For the past few weeks, Rob Rogers, longtime editorial cartoonist of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, has been in purgatory. Several of his cartoons with an anti-Trump viewpoint were killed in late May and early June, leading to local media speculation that his newspaper was cracking down on dissenting opinions about the president. The liberal-leaning cartoonist told his Twitter followers soon after that he was taking some time off until things settled down.
Today, Rogers shared another update:
Rogers has yet to respond for my request for comment today on what exactly went down, but he did sit for an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on June 6. Still employed at the time, Rogers didn’t explicitly say his cartoons had been killed because they were critical of Trump. But he did hint at it:
ROGERS: I’m feeling, at least, that they want me to be a cartoonist that I’m not.
TAPPER: They want you to be a pro-Trump cartoonist, that’s what you feel?”
ROGERS: Yes, in a way, or at least less negative to Trump. But it also applies to some other cartoons that kind of puzzled me as well, like the FBI or race.
Since March, Rogers added, he had 19 cartoons killed by the leadership of the Post-Gazette’s editorial page. The new head of that section, Keith Burris, did not respond to my request for comment when Rogers’ cartoons were initially killed. And he’s yet to answer an email today inquiring why Rogers was fired. But the paper’s management did issue this statement to a Post-Gazette reporter writing about the controversy: “This is an internal, personnel matter we are working hard to resolve. It has little to do with politics, ideology or Donald Trump. It has mostly to do with working together and the editing process.”
The newspaper’s opinion section has been much friendlier to Trump than many of its counterparts; its greatest hit came in the form of a bizarre MLK Day editorial defending the president’s criticism of immigrants from “shithole countries.” In the Toledo Blade—the Post-Gazette’s sister paper—Burris himself has previously described feminism as “a step back toward barbarism.”
On Wednesday, a day before he announced his firing, Rogers tweeted out another Trump cartoon that didn’t make it into the newspaper:
I’m looking forward to all the pearl-clutching in national media over this apparent silencing of political speech.