The last time we heard from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the newsroom’s union and the paper’s owning family formed an odd coalition to criticize publisher John R. Block’s decision to run a bizarre MLK Day editorial arguing that calling out racism is the real racism. Now it appears that its opinion section may have stopped publishing work by its longtime cartoonist that’s critical of President Donald Trump.
Rob Rogers, a 25-year Post-Gazette veteran, hasn’t appeared in the newspaper since May 24, making for six consecutive ‘toons killed. The paper has been mum on what’s up and Keith Burris—editorial director of the Post-Gazette and its sister newspaper, the Toledo Blade—has not responded to my request for comment.
The left-leaning Rogers has nevertheless been posting his recent work on social media.
Rogers told me by email Monday that that he “can’t really talk about any of this yet,” and he’s been steadily no-commenting local media in the past few days. But he did share the Roseanne-Ambien cartoon on Facebook with a brief caption: “Another killed cartoon. 4th in a row.” Rogers also hinted to a Facebook commenter in March that a cartoon on the Stormy Daniels case had similarly been spiked:
Rogers’ parnter, Sylvia Rohr, likewise said the cartoons had been killed in a Facebook post of her own, according to Pittsburgh NPR affiliate WESA. “Rob is not on vacation,” she wrote. “His cartoons haven’t made it to the paper over the last week because they have been killed by the [Post-Gazette].”
The Post-Gazette’s opinion section has been friendly to Trump compared to that of other newspapers. And Burris, who joined the outlet after helming the editorial board at the Toledo Blade, has written that feminism is “a step back toward barbarism.” If the ban of Rogers’ Trump-critical work is indeed due to “political differences” as Rogers says, it would seem to conflict with the mission statement Burris outlined for his op-ed pages less than two months ago:
Opinion writers should be journalists, par excellence. They are solemnly bound by the written and unwritten codes of their profession. They must not be biased, partisan, or corrupt. If we are any of those things, we fail you the reader and we fail our craft and our consciences.
It is good if we have a values system, a philosophical direction, an intellectual consistency. But, no matter the stakes, we should never have a permanent side.
It must be nice to be the boss.
Update, 6/5/18: This story has been updated to include a no-comment from Rob Rogers.