Cartoonist who cited political conflicts with paper is fired

Rob Rogers

Rogers tweeted the news Thursday afternoon, saying, "Today, after 25 years as the editorial cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, I was sacked".

In a statement, the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists said the Post-Gazette's responsibility was to its readers, "and to the open and ongoing search for truth in contending opinions".

Burris and other editorial leaders at the Post-Gazette did not immediately return HuffPost's request for comment on Rogers' ouster.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers says he has been fired.

The Thursday meeting in which he was sacked, Rogers said, was the last of several he'd had with the human resources department since the paper's editorial director, Keith Burris, began cracking down on his cartoons.

Rogers publicly acknowledged last week that his cartoons were being rejected because they did not align with the political views of the newspaper's leadership. The Post-Gazette instead published cartoons by Kirk Walters of the sister paper Toledo Blade and syndicated cartoons. "I can't really talk about that aspect", said Rogers, who at that point was taking personal days off and awaiting a resolution with management.

Rogers estimated that about 90 percent of the rejected cartoons were Trump-related.

A broader push for less negative Trump coverage in the paper has been linked to John Block, its conservative publisher, and to Burris, the editorial director.

The Pittsburgh mayor spoke to the larger political backdrop of Rogers's firing: "This is precisely the time when the constitutionally protected free press - including critics like Rob Rogers - should be celebrated and supported, and not fired for doing their jobs". Block told The Washington Post last week that the matter "had little to do with politics" or Trump but primarily involved "working together and the editing process".

Rogers' firing, following so closely after President Trump declaring that the news media is "Our Country's biggest enemy" has been cited by others as worrisome in a time when freedom of speech and the press are more vital than ever. That has never stopped him from publishing cartoons that are critical of me, of my policy positions, or of my actions (or inactions) in office. "But I think the people and the readers of Pittsburgh, and even beyond Pittsburgh ― because my voice has been silenced and opinions on the page have been silenced ― I think it does a disservice to those readers, and that actually makes me even sadder than losing my job".

The Newspaper Guild of America of Pittsburgh said that "Rob Rogers is a true talent we were honored to know as a colleague and friend. He deserved much better treatment".

Mr. Burris said Mr. Rogers was offered a deal in which he would be an independent contractor and produce two cartoons per week for the paper's op-ed page along with his weekly strip, "Brewed on Grant".

Unlike the mysterious disappearance of his work from its pages, the Post-Gazette acknowledged his firing on its own website.

He said it's a political cartoonist's job to criticize politicians who are in power.

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