Writers Guild West Censures Showrunner Over Facebook Post Using Lynching Image

The Writers Guild of America West issued a censure of showrunner Tim Doyle on Thursday after a committee of its members found that one of his Facebook posts was “conduct prejudicial to the welfare of the Guild and unfair dealing.”

The union’s board of directors revealed in a statement sent to members that it had conducted an internal trial over its charges that in August of 2023 Doyle posted an image to a Facebook group “that members perceived as a racist and offensive depiction of a lynching.” Following a hearing that included Doyle’s testimony, “a trial committee of Current members in good standing found Mr. Doyle guilty as charged.” The verdict was that “Mr. Doyle’s conduct warrants public censure,” the board added.

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The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Doyle for comment.

The post in question, as THR reported in August of 2023, was an Aug. 9 response to a post commemorating the 100th day of the WGA’s 2023 strike. In response, Doyle — who has worked on shows including Schooled, The Kids Are Alright, Last Man Standing and Roseanne — posted “I just got my tree up!” alongside a black-and-white image of someone hanging from a tree in an image highly suggestive of a lynching. The backlash was almost immediate, with page administrator Keith Powell (Keith vs) writing that the post was an “epically horrible, racist, self-martyring, vile, clueless, out-of-touch, boneheaded, disturbing and toxic post.”

In an interview with THR in the summer of 2023, Doyle said he was “very sorry” about the post and said it was a botched joke that resulted from inactivity during the strikes. “I’m bored at the moment, and I write a lot of jokes. I’m a comedy writer. I was brain dead in that moment, and I picked the wrong piece of clip art to go with a silly joke about killing myself after 100 days on the picket line,” he explained. I Googled the words ‘cartoon man hanging from a tree’ and that’s what came up. I really think this has been a misunderstanding.”

He said that when he learned about the backlash, “my stomach dropped.” Doyle added, “There’s a part of my brain that, in the spirit of creativity, I don’t always censor myself quickly enough. My imagination didn’t take me to the place where other people would interpret from that awful drawing. Now I look at it and I get it. Again, I know that seems clueless, but my brain did not go there.”

The page’s administrator, Powell, said at the time that Doyle had gotten a “strike” from the post, and that the page operates from a three-strikes rule. Powell said, “A man of his age and stature should know the history of lynching in America. The image he posted so clearly is of a man with his hands tied behind his back.” He said that Doyle had sent an apology to the group and apologized to Powell. Powell added, “We told him to please consider what has happened and be considerate and thoughtful about what you post in the future. He agreed.”

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