After publisher John Block, who owns the Toledo Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, combined the editorial page operations of the two newspapers and made Keith Burris the editor of the two pages, the content started shifting right, as with an editorial that called charges of racism the “new McCarthyism.” Last week came the firing of Pittsburgh cartoonist Rob Rogers, after several of his cartoons poking fun at Donald Trump were killed.
Washington Post cartoonist Ann Telnaes, a Reno High School graduate, used her pen for writing for a change, to respond to the firing in a Post essay that read in part:
“ ‘Oh, good lord.’ That was my reaction the day after the election of Donald Trump in November of 2016, when it dawned on me that I would be serving my year as president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists during the same time as the guy who wanted to ‘open up’ libel laws and weaken the First Amendment so he could sue journalists more easily. Instead of the usual loss of jobs for editorial cartoonists that a president of the AAEC has to address during his or her tenure, now I’d be dealing with a much more fundamental threat to our profession: a president of the United States who has no idea or respect for the institution of a free press and its role in a democracy. …
“I realize now I didn’t recognize this other danger of an authoritarian president: his enablers and the willing supporters who squash dissent and help attack the free press and subvert the Constitution. The fact that Trump will use any opportunity to spread lies and whip up hatred toward journalists only enables his powerful supporters in the media to do his dirty work for him. In April, another disturbing example of journalistic manipulation was exposed when a video surfaced showing news anchors from 45 Sinclair-owned stations reciting word for word the same script criticizing the mainstream media and spouting the ‘fake news’ accusations that Trump uses in his diatribes. While Trump used the opportunity to blast its critics and offer his support for the ‘superior’ Sinclair Broadcasting, he hadn’t orchestrated this abuse of journalistic integrity. He didn’t have to; there were others willing to do it for him.
“Through satire, humor and pointed caricatures, editorial cartoonists criticize leaders and governments that are behaving badly. The purpose of an editorial cartoonist is to hold politicians and powerful institutions accountable—and we all know how little President Trump thinks he, his family or his sycophants should be held accountable. Rogers was the first American editorial cartoonist to lose his job as a result, but he won’t be the last. Trump has many ‘fixers.’”