Cartoonist Rob Rogers was fired from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for refusing to do cartoons extolling the virtues and accomplishments of Trump. According to The Association of American Cartoonists; “Rob Rogers is one of the best in the country and his cartoons have been a wildly popular feature of the Post-Gazette. Readers looked forward each morning to opening their papers to see Rogers’ latest pointed commentary.”
Things changed for Rob when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hired Keith Burris as its Editorial Page Editor. Just weeks earlier and before Rob Rogers was let go, Editor Keith Burns had written about meeting a self-proclaimed classical liberal; ”To be a liberal: five principles
2) Free speech is essential.
Freedom of speech and expression is the sine qua non of tolerance and pluralism — the grammar of tolerance; the way we make the principle work.
Liberals fight for the right of every thinker and seeker to pursue his truth, to share it, and to be heard.
The greatest liberal thinker of the 20th century, Isaiah Berlin, said: “The first people totalitarians destroy or silence are men of ideas and free minds.”
Perhaps this rational by Mr. Burris did not apply to Rob Rogers and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had a different idea of what liberalism meant within the confines of its employment. One commenter to Burris’s editorial claimed “Keith wants us to be the ‘right’ kind of liberals” and another said “Keith Burris defining a liberal is like Donald Trump defining femininity.”
Keith Burris in an editorial for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette came out in defense of Donald Trump calling some nations “shithole countries.” Entitled “Reason as racism,” Keith Burris argued that calling someone a racist is “the new McCarthyism” defending the sentiment behind President Donald Trump’s reported suggestion the United States take immigrants from an overwhelmingly white country such as Norway rather than “shithole countries” like Haiti or from continents such as Africa.
Representing 150 employees at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh in a letter to the editor it was “collectively appalled and crestfallen by the repugnant editorial.”
It may be that Rob Roberts no longer meets the qualifications of being a cartoonists at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by not conforming to the political stance taken by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Keith Burris and the publisher John Robinson Block. “Cartoonists are not illustrators for a publisher’s politics,” Rogers quips in reply to Blocks and Burris’s critique of his performance at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“If I drew Trump more often than Block would have liked, it was because I base my cartoons on the most urgent topics at hand. Sadly, Trump provides that fodder every day.”
Some recent cartoons by Rob Roberts the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette would not publish:
Publisher John Robinson Block is a Trump supporter who said during a 2013 community forum on racism that people of color need to pull themselves up “by their bootstraps” like they did in the “old days.” Both Block and Burris met with Trump on his private plane at Toledo Express Airport in September 2016 after a campaign rally.
It is pretty obvious which way the wind blows today at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.