Longtime Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cartoonist Rob Rogers announced Thursday afternoon that he had been fired by the newspaper, after a number of his recent political cartoons had been killed.
“Sad to report this update: Today, after 25 years as the editorial cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, I was fired,” Rogers wrote on Twitter.
Sad to report this update: Today, after 25 years as the editorial cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, I was fired.
— Rob Rogers (@Rob_Rogers) June 14, 2018
Rogers has said he went on vacation earlier this month after Keith Burris, the newspaper’s editorial director, killed six of his cartoons in a row. Since Burris took over in March, Rogers has seen a total of`19 cartoons and ideas spiked, most involving criticism of President Trump.
“The Post-Gazette’s leadership has veered away from core journalistic values that embrace diverse opinions and public discourse on important issues,” Rogers said in a statement Thursday. “I fear that today’s unjustified firing of a dissenting voice on the editorial pages will only serve to diminish an opinion section that was once one of America’s best.”
Stephen B. Spolar, the Post-Gazette’s chief human resources officer, said the newspaper “does not provide details about employment matters, but in light of Mr. Rogers’ public comments today, we do want to acknowledge his long service to the newspaper and our community.”
Burris, who stoked controversy in January by writing an editorial defending Trump’s criticism of immigrants from “s–hole countries,” was made the editorial director by John Robinson Block, who is a Trump supporter. Rogers told the Inquirer and Daily News last week that he had worked under Block for nearly 25 years without any problems until the last few months.
Burris and Block have not responded to requests for comment.
Burris told the Post-Gazette that Rogers was offered a deal in which he would be an independent contractor, producing two op-ed-page cartoons a week and his weekly strip.
“We tried hard to find a middle way, an accommodation to keep him the paper,” Burris said. He also said, “For an in-house staff cartoonist, editing is part of it. Rob’s view was, ‘Take it or leave it.’ ”
While Rogers hasn’t drawn any new cartoons for the Post-Gazette since June 5, he did pen a cartoon critical of Trump’s summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un that was syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate.
Things with my paper are still unresolved but I decided to draw this one for syndication only. Enjoy. Summit cartoon: https://t.co/gGOKCq5thp #TrumpKimSummit #KimJongUn #Trump #TrumpKim #nukes #HumanRights #NorthKorea pic.twitter.com/9eA1gnnfzO
— Rob Rogers (@Rob_Rogers) June 13, 2018
The very public dispute between Rogers and his editors drew the attention of many readers, including Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who was a frequent target of the cartoonist’s work.
He takes digs at me. He makes fun of my weight & chin(s). He is critical when he believes I can do better. He is a master of his craft & Pittsburgh is lucky to have a talent like @Rob_Rogers as a political satirist. Will Rogers would be proud. https://t.co/wMjau2DbVQ
— bill peduto (@billpeduto) June 7, 2018
“I get excited about the possibility of drawing another cartoon and afflicting the comfortable and speaking truth to power,” Rogers said last week. “That’s what I’m hoping they’ll let me do. And if not, then I’ll have to find another way to do it.”