A cartoonist who was terminated by his employer of 25 years on Thursday believes his provocative portrayals of President Donald Trump were the cause of his firing.
Rob Rogers, a cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, was let go by the paper after six of his cartoons in a row were spiked and his employer tried to change his terms of working, he told the Guardian.
His final cartoon showed a bloated man representing the United States, impaled on a steel girder with “trade war” written on it, waving the Stars and Stripes and saying: “Take that, Canada, Mexico and Europe.”
Another cartoon depicts the president laying a wreath with the letters “RIP” by a monument inscribed with “Truth, Honor, Rule of Law.”
Rogers told Fox News that he's gotten "ovewhelming support" from the public since his firing.
"This includes a lot of people who disagreed with my point of view, but who recognize the importance of diverse voices on the page," Rogers said. "This event made me realize that it's not just my voice that is getting muffled, it's a large percentage of the population. It has made me more dedicated than ever to my work and to my readers."
His departure prompted uproar from fans of his work, including Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who said in a 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.”
Peduto, who said he has known Rogers a long time, also noted that he’s been a target of the cartoonist’s ire as well.
Rogers was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1999, for cartoons that went after Bill Clinton, primarily for the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Prior to his stint at the Post-Gazette, he worked at the Pittsburgh Press for 9 years. He has lambasted and satirized six different presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan.
After leaving the Post-Gazette, Rogers penned an editorial for the New York Times in which he wrote that he was told the publisher wanted editorial cartoonists to be more akin to editorial writers—and therefore reflect the views of the paper.
"Personally, this feels like a betrayal. My integrity, politics and work ethic never changed. The paper did," Rogers told Fox News. "As a cartoonist, and as a citizen, I have to stay on top of changes in politics and government and always maintain a critical eye."
John Robinson Block, the Post-Gazette’s longtime publisher, did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment. Block has been seen shaking Hillary Clinton’s hand and also standing next to President Trump on his private jet.
Editorial director Keith Burris was quoted in the Post-Gazette's coverage of the firing as saying Rogers had been offered a new contract and that a “middle way” had been looked for, only for Rogers to be unwilling to “collaborate.”