A longtime Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial cartoonist said he was fired Thursday after the newspaper declined to print a number of his cartoons, including several that were critical of President Donald Trump.
Rob Rogers, whose cartoons often appeared in national publications, had worked at the Post-Gazette since 1993. He announced his firing on Twitter.
Rogers said he had nine cartoon ideas killed and 10 finished cartoons withheld from publication since March — including six that were spiked between May 25 and June 4 — according to the Washington Post.
One of the cartoons that wasn’t published depicts Trump laying a wreath in front of a grave market that reads “Truth, Honor, Rule of Law.”
Rogers’ cartoons normally appeared in the Post-Gazette five days a week, according to the Columbia Journalism Review. The newspaper last published one of his cartoons on June 5.
“A political cartoonist is meant to be provocative, and is meant to cover people in power and keep those people accountable,” Rogers told CJR. “When I was hired by the Post-Gazette 25 years ago, it was to come up with my own ideas and draw those ideas, not to be an illustrator of someone else’s ideas.”
Another nixed cartoon depicts a character in a white hood asking a doctor, “Could it be the Ambien?” — a nod to Roseanne Barr’s defense for a racist tweet.
It’s normal for cartoonists to have their work withheld from publication at some point in their career, Rogers said, “But they usually only happen a couple of times a year.”
“I’ve never heard of anybody having more than two or three,” he added. “Never in my career have I had two in a row killed, or six in a row.”
In a statement provided to AngleNews, Stephen Spolar, chief human resources officer for the Post-Gazette, declined to comment on Rogers’ firing, saying the newspaper “does not provide details about employment matters.”
The statement continued, “in light of Mr Rogers’ public comments today, we do want to acknowledge his long service to the newspaper and our community. Any further discussions will be conducted with Mr. Rogers as a private matter.”
A spokeswoman for the newspaper declined to comment about why Rogers’ cartoons were withheld from publication.
The CJR pointed out that Rogers’ work started disappearing from the Post-Gazette’s editorial pages around the same time that Block Communications, the paper’s parent company, appointed Keith Burris as editor, vice president and editorial director.
The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists’s board linked the arrival of Burris, who they called “Trump-supporting,” to Rogers’ cartoons being held from the paper.
“We would take this opportunity to remind all editorial page editors that their responsibility is to the readers (among whom in Pittsburgh, Rogers cartoons are wildly popular) and to the open and ongoing search for truth in contending opinions,” the board said in a statement. “The editorial pages are a public forum, not a members-only private resort in Florida.”
Burris did not immediately respond to a request for comment from AngleNews.