Two owners of Missouri paper step down over racially insensitive cartoon

Two owners of a Missouri newspaper have stepped down from the news organization controlled by their father over an editorial cartoon the publisher later acknowledged was racially insensitive.

"We saw the cartoon at the same time as our readers and were just as outraged and horrified as our staff and community," Susan Miller Warden and Jeanne Miller Wood, two of the owners of the Washington Missourian, wrote in a public apology titled "We're Sorry."

"Had we known we would have vehemently fought against publishing it. We believe this is the reason we were kept in the dark about its publication," they wrote.

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The cartoon shows a black man wearing a mask and a hoodie stealing a purse from a white woman.

“Help!! Somebody call 911!” reads the cartoon.

“Good luck with that lady, we defunded the police," the man replies.

 

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Susan Miller Warden and Jeanne Miller Wood said their father, Bill Miller Sr., serves as the paper's publisher and editor and that he made the decision to run he carton without their knowledge.

"Even more painful for us is the fact that this hits close to home because this is our father. Many families have been having these painful discussions in the privacy of their homes. We unfortunately have to have this debate in a more public way," they wrote.

"Because we do not have the editorial control to assure our readers that this won’t happen again, we have resigned in protest. We cannot continue to work for an editor who fails to see the pain this causes and we believe this issue is too important not to take a stand."

The elder Miller, who is facing calls to step down, also issued a statement of apology.

"I ran a nationally syndicated editorial cartoon in the June 10 edition of The Missourian that was racially insensitive,” Miller wrote. “It was poor judgement on my part and for that I sincerely apologize.”

The cartoonist responsible for the cartoon, Tom Stiglich, told KSDK-TV in St. Louis that the nation needs “more law and order right now, not less.”

"First and foremost, may George Floyd rest in peace. He did not deserve to die like that. I do not condone racism or police brutality of any kind. I feel it's such a hostile environment we're living in right now, one that needs more law and order, not less," Stiglich said Wednesday. "The rioting and looting was extremely disheartening. That cartoon was based solely on violent crime numbers here in the US. To ignore that would be doing a disservice to the reader."