Rob Rogers says he was fired by newspaper for his anti-Trump cartoons
The New Pittsburgh Courier has learned that veteran Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers was fired by the newspaper, according to a Twitter post on Rogers’ Twitter page, @Rob_Rogers.
The tweet, posted at 1:05 p.m. June 14, read: “Sad to report this update: Today, after 25 years as the editorial cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, I was fired.”
According to Rogers, the Post-Gazette has not published 19 of his cartoons since March, and readers began catching on that Rogers’ mostly anti-Trump cartoons were not being published. Other national outlets picked up on the story, including CNN host Jake Tapper, who had Rogers as a guest on his show, “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” June 6.
On the broadcast, Rogers told Tapper that he felt the Post-Gazette’s publisher, John Robinson Block, and newly-appointed editorial director, Keith Burris, wanted him to be “a cartoonist that he’s not.” Tapper pressed the issue, asking bluntly if the newspaper wanted Rogers to be more of a pro-Trump cartoonist. “Yes, in a way, or at least less negative to Trump,” Rogers responded.
On June 12, Rogers told supporters in a tweet he was not at work; instead, taking “personal days off until my employment status at the paper is resolved. Thank you for your continued support.”
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto responded to the June 14 firing with a statement: “The move today by the leadership of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to fire Rob Rogers after he drew a series of cartoons critical of President Trump is disappointing, and sends the wrong message about press freedoms in a time when they are under siege.
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. This decision, just one day after the President of the United States said the news media is ‘Our Country’s biggest enemy,’ sets a low standard in the 232-year history of the newspaper.
I’ve known Rob a long time. 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. He’s even made fun of my weight. But he is one of the best in the world at his time-honored craft, and I know people of all political persuasions stand with me in support of him, even if the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette regrettably does not.”
The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh released the following statement to the Courier at 4:38 p.m.: “The members of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh were saddened today to learn from a tweet by Rob Rogers that he had been fired as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial cartoonist. There is much we still do not know. Given the recent killing of a number of Rob’s cartoons critical of President Trump and conservative positions, favorites of the publisher and the editorial director, it perhaps is not surprising that this sad day for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pittsburgh community and journalism has arrived.
“Honored by national awards, including being a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Rob worked with verve and aplomb at both the Pittsburgh Press and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He is a true talent we were honored to know as a colleague and friend. He deserved much better treatment. It appears Rob’s only transgression was doing his job—providing satirical comment based on his political views of the world. There never was a problem before but with the new order of the Post-Gazette editorial pages, those who do not follow the pro-Trump, pro-conservative orthodoxy of the publisher and editorial director are of no use.
“The public should be assured that PG newsroom employees—150 reporters, photographers, copy editors, artists and others represented by the Guild–will continue to produce award-winning, unbiased journalism. Democracy depends upon it. As we do so, we mourn the fact that the PG editorial pages apparently are no longer the free marketplace of ideas.”
The Post-Gazette has yet to release a public statement about the matter.
See Rob Rogers’ appearance on CNN: https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2018/06/06/cartoonist-anti-trump-sketches-cut-from-paper-tapper-lead.cnn