Pittsburgh’s Other Mister Rogers

June 15, 2018
Posted by Jay Livingston

Rob Rogers is was the political cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  The paper just fired him.

Here are some of his recent cartoons.

(Click for a larger view.)

The Post-Gazette is the only print daily left in Pittsburgh. The others that I grew up with, the Press and the Sun-Telegraph, were eroded by the demographic, economic, and technological changes. So it goes.

The paper is owned by Block Communications, which combined the Post-Gazette’s editorial pages with that of its other paper, the Toledo Blade. The Blade’s editorial director, Keith Burris, took over the Post-Gazette as well. Block and Burris are conservative. Burris had been killing Rogers cartoons on a regular basis, though they ran in syndication.

This does not seem like a complicated story. If you have enough money to buy up newspapers, you can hire editors to publish ideas that you like and to get rid of people who express ideas you don’t like.

Of course, Burris doesn’t think he was telling Rogers what to put in the cartoons. It was merely a matter of “collaboration.”             

“We never said he should do no more Trump cartoons or do pro-Trump cartoons,” said Mr. Burris. “For an in-house staff cartoonist, editing is part of it. Rob’s view was, ‘Take it or leave it.’”

[Burris] said he did not “suppress” Mr. Rogers’ cartoons but that Mr. Rogers was unwilling to “collaborate” with him about his work and ideas. [from the Post-Gazette’s story on the firing, here.]

Maybe Jeff Bezos should collaborate more with George Will.

The more media outlets a corporation can buy up, the more it can control what people see and hear. Block Communications is not Sinclair, with its 200 (and counting) radio stations. But it does control 100% of the daily press in Pittsburgh. For Rob Rogers and Pittsburghers, today is not a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

1 comment:

Arnie said...

This scenario is another confirmation of A. J. Liebling’s statement that “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”