A newspaper cartoonist has been fired from his job of 25 years, and he thinks it's because his work is searingly critical of Donald Trump.
Rob Rogers, who has worked as a political cartoonist for 34 years, worked at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette until Thursday, when his contract was terminated.
Rogers believes that his criticisms of Donald Trump are the reason for his termination, especially after his last six cartoons were spiked. Taking to Twitter, he announced his sacking:
Speaking to the Washington Post, Rogers explained how since March 2018, he'd had nine cartoon ideas killed, and ten finished drawings spiked.
From 25 May to 4 June, not a single one was published. Ideas that were rejected include a cartoon about immigrant children, which shows a likeness of Donald Trump snatching children from their parents.
After he was fired, Rogers drew a cartoon of Trump shaking hands with Kim Jong-un standing on a pile of skulls with the caption "You’re so talented and your people love you, look how they’re smiling!"
Suppressing voices in any situation is bad. You want to have as many voices as you can and they are starting to have only one voice of the paper, and I think that goes against what a free press is all about – especially when silencing that voice is because of the president.
The Pittsburgh Post Gazette appears to have taken a lurch to the right since a new editorial director was hired. Earlier this year, there was a media furore after it defended Trump's alleged 's**thole countries' comment in an editorial named 'Reason as racism'. In his defence, they wrote:
It is not racist to say that this country cannot take only the worst people from the worst places and that we want some of the best people from the best places, many of which are inhabited by people of color. That’s not racism, it is reason.
In an editorial for the New York Times, Rogers said that an unusual lunch he had with his new boss foreshadowed his demise from the paper.
When I had lunch with my new boss a few months ago he informed me that the paper's publisher believed the editorial cartoonist was akin to an editorial writer, and that his views should reflect the philosophy of the newspaper.
That was a new one to me.
I was trained in a tradition in which editorial cartoonists are the live wires of a publication – as one former colleague put it, the 'constant irritant'.
Since his dismissal, many of his fans have taken to Twitter to share their disgust at the paper's decision. One said:
So much for press freedom. Shame on you Pittsburgh PG.
In 1999, Rogers was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, for cartoons that skewered the then-president Bill Clinton, and the unravelling the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
In his first interview since the firing, John Block - the published and editor-in-chief of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, told Politico:
He’s just become too angry for his health or for his own good.
He’s obsessed with Trump.