The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has hired a new editorial cartoonist to replace Rob Rogers, who was fired amidst controversy over the paper's refusal to publish work by him criticizing the Trump administration. The paper announced today that its new cartoonist is Steve Kelley, a veteran of newspapers in San Diego and New Orleans.
Rogers, whose work has been syndicated nationally, had drawn for the Post-Gazette for 25 years. He was fired in June after six straight of his cartoons were spiked by the paper's new editorial-page editor, Keith Burris. Rogers attributed his firing to the paper's new rightward tilt under Burris. The Post-Gazette denied Rogers' firing was ideological.
The award-winning Kelley -- who also co-authors the comic strip "Dustin" -- has described himself as "fairly right of center." The hiring is unusual in that staff jobs for editorial cartoonists at daily newspapers have been dwindling for years.
Rogers says he admires Kelley's work, but adds, "It doesn't surprise me that the Post-Gazette would hire somebody like him. It only confirms the reasons I believe they fired me. ... It was about politics."
Kelly himself was fired by the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2001 after a newsroom controversy over a cartoon he drew depicting the partially exposed rear ends of two teenagers wearing sagging pants. (The cartoon was never published.) His most recent staff job was with the New Orleans Times-Picayune, where he was pink-slipped during a round of layoffs in 2012.
The Post-Gazette announced Kelley's hiring in a front-page article in today's edition. "I am confident that [Kelley] will be worthy of the legacy of the great Cy Hungerford," said publisher and editor-in-chief John Robinson Block, summoning the name of the paper's cartoonist from 1927 to 1977.
The article was accompanied by a cartoon Kelley did in 2016, depicting a pollster asking a couple, "Do you prefer the presumptive nominee who's despised by 58% of Americans or the one loathed by 54%?"