The cartoon empire built by Dilbert creator Scott Adams is quickly crumbling.
The latest fallout came Monday, when Adams’ distributor, Andrews McMeel Universal, announced it would cut ties with the cartoonist following his racist tirade about Black Americans.
In a joint statement, Andrews McMeel chairman Hugh Andrews and CEO and president Andy Sareyan said the syndication company was “severing our relationship” with Adams and condemned his remarks, saying “we will never support any commentary rooted in discrimination or hate.”
Last week, in a video shared to YouTube, Adams called Black Americans a “hate group” and suggested that white people should “get the hell away” from them. He was commenting on a poll from the right-leaning Rasmussen Reports that said 47 per cent of Black respondents disagreed with the statement, “It’s OK to be White.”
“If nearly half of all Blacks are not OK with white people — according to this poll, not according to me,” he said in the Feb. 22 video. “That’s a hate group.”
Hundreds of newspapers across North America have announced they will no longer run Dilbert on their funny pages, and Penguin Random House imprint Portfolio announced Monday it was dropping Adams’ forthcoming book, Reframe Your Brain.
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Portfolio published Adams’ previous titles, including How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big and Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America.
Adams said Monday on YouTube that his distributor didn’t really have a choice because clients and other cartoonists were mad.
“They were just forced into it,” he said.
On Twitter, he said his book publisher and book agent had “canceled” him.
Adams has long been active on Twitter, whose CEO, Elon Musk, was among the few to publicly back him. Adams also blogs regularly and puts out a regular podcast on YouTube.
He’s attracted attention for comments he’s made in the past, including saying in 2011 that women are treated differently by society for the same reason as children and those with mental disabilities — “it’s just easier this way for everyone.” He said 2016 GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina had an “angry wife face.”
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Adams became a vocal supporter of former president Donald Trump, saying Trump had a hypnotist’s skill in attracting followers. He said that stance cost him money in lost speaker’s fees.
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He said he lost the primetime animated Dilbert series that ran on UPN for two seasons for “being white” when the network decided to target a Black audience, and that he lost two other corporate jobs because of his race.
The Anti-Defamation League said the phrase at the centre of the question was popularized as a trolling campaign by members of 4chan — a notorious anonymous site — and was adopted by some white supremacists.
(Rasmussen Reports is a conservative polling firm that has used its Twitter account to endorse false and misleading claims about COVID-19 vaccines, elections and the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.)
Adams repeatedly referred to people who are Black as members of a “hate group” or a “racist hate group” and said he would no longer “help Black Americans.” On his podcast Monday, he called his “hate group” remark “hyperbole,” but maintained his advice that white people should “get the hell away” from Black people.
Meanwhile, many cartoonists have applauded the industry’s condemnation of Adams, and some have shared that they’re not surprised he’s being held to account.
“I’m proud and happy to see publishers, magazines, and newspapers are dropping him because there should be no tolerance for that kind of language,” Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell, a cartoonist for The New Yorker, told NPR.
“It’s a relief to see him held accountable.”
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The editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, which dumped Dilbert last year, told The Associated Press that the comic strip “went from being hilarious to being hurtful and mean.”
Editor-in-chief Emilio Garcia-Ruiz said in the newspaper that he had objected to a strip that said that in an effort to diversify workplaces, straight men should pretend to be gay.
“He kind of ran out of office jokes and started integrating all this other stuff so after a while, it became hard to distinguish between Scott Adams and Dilbert,” said Mike Peterson, columnist for the industry blog The Daily Cartoonist.
— With files from The Associated Press
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