This afternoon, award-winning political cartoonist Rob Rogers stunned his many fans in Pittsburgh and beyond by tweeting that he has been fired by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after 25 years.
“I’m literally trying not to throw up,” the Post-Gazette’s Tony Norman tweeted in response.
The Post-Gazette’s initial story only referenced Rogers’ Tweet about the firing. But later in the day they confirmed the firing and they included this statement from the company, attributed to the paper’s chief human resources officer, Stephen Spolar: “The Post-Gazette 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. Any further discussions will be conducted with Mr. Rogers as a private matter.”
As we’ve reported in recent days, Rogers’ political cartoons which so many readers look for each day had been missing recently from the Post-Gazette’s pages. The resulting uproar over the editorial decision to suppress his cartoons has been drawing responses from across the nation, including a tweet from Barbra Streisand and a strong rebuke from the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.
“It doesn’t take much to connect the dots between the absence of Rob’s left-leaning cartoons and the recent arrival of a Trump-supporting editorial page editor,” the AAEC board said in a public statement. “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 editorial pages are a public forum, not a members-only private resort in Florida.”
As news was spreading about Rogers’ firing, it was announced this evening that Rogers will appear at the free First Amendment conference scheduled for next week in Pittsburgh which has been organized as a forum for discussing and protecting “the bedrock of AmerAmerica’s rights of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
“During his 34 years as a political cartoonist in Pittsburgh — including a career at the Post-Gazette spanning four supervising editors — Rogers had two to three cartoons a year, on average, killed by his editors,” reported the Washington Post.
“But Rogers told Comic Riffs last week that he had 19 cartoons or cartoon ideas spiked this year, under new supervisor (Keith) Burris. And between May 25 and June 4, not a single one of his cartoons was deemed worthy of publishing in the paper. The Post-Gazette instead published cartoons by Kirk Walters of the sister paper Toledo Blade and syndicated cartoons.”
Later this afternoon, Mayor Bill Peduto released the following 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.”
On NEXTpittsburgh’s Facebook page, many commenters said they would cancel their subscriptions to the Post-Gazette. One expressed frustration and got this reply:
This evening, Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman pleaded with readers to not cancel their subscriptions:
Rogers had shared this cartoon yesterday: