Post-Gazette newsroom union blasts ‘misogynistic editorial cartoons’

The newspaper won’t publish this letter, which says the work of Rob Rogers’ replacement “display[s] a contempt for women and an obvious deep-seated prejudice against them.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette office on the North Shore.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette office on the North Shore.

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline

Updated 4:11 p.m.

The union representing Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newsroom employees says higher-ups refused to print a letter from the union criticizing a recent string of Post-Gazette editorial cartoons as “misogynistic” and disgraceful.

The cartoons were penned by Steve Kelley, who replaced former P-G cartoonist Rob Rogers, whose public criticism of the paper’s pro-Trump publisher and its new editorial director ended with his termination last year. Kelley’s conservative voice is in stark contrast to Rogers’ liberal commentary for the paper.

Kelley’s editorial cartoons in question published Jan. 13, Jan. 14, Jan. 17, and Jan. 20. (He is not a member of the union.)

The first has a woman in a restaurant saying to her male dining partner, “As a modern woman, I’m all for eliminating traditional gender roles, at least until the waiter brings the dinner tab.”

The second shows a young woman reading news of Jeff Bezos’ pending $137-billion divorce and wondering aloud, “Maybe one day I’ll grow up and divorce a man like Jeff Bezos.”

The third addresses Gillette’s “toxic masculinity ad” like so:

And the fourth shows a stare down between President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, in which her vanity — not the president’s — is the object of ridicule. (See more of Kelley’s work here.)

The cartoons have prompted editorials of their own in other publications. They have also prompted letters to the editor from readers angered by the content, and at least two of those letters were published by the Post-Gazette.

But the letter from the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, the union representing 150 newsroom employees, hasn’t and won’t be printed, the Guild says. (A copy of the letter sent to The Incline and other news outlets by the Guild is included in its entirety below.)

Reached for comment by The Incline, Post-Gazette Marketing Director Tracey DeAngelo said she was unfamiliar with the issue and the Guild’s letter and that she would follow up with comment if the paper’s owners and managers decided to make one.

The Post-Gazette was the scene of an similar flap exactly one year ago, with the paper refusing to print in-house criticism of an editorial penned by now editor and vice president of the Post-Gazette, and editorial director for Block Newspapers, Keith Burris.

Contract negotiations between the Guild and the paper’s owners also continue, having prompted an unfair labor complaint against the paper by the union.

This week’s letter from the Guild addressing the Kelley controversy follows here:

To the Editor:

We write you on the one-year anniversary of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette publishing what was widely considered in our community to be a racist editorial. In response, the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh broke with more than eight decades of not weighing in on editorial positions and wrote a letter to the editor, which the PG refused to publish. We did so because the editorial was so repugnant and outrageous that we would be remiss as human beings and as employees of this newspaper not to speak out.

Sadly, one year later, we find ourselves in the same position. This time, the publication of three misogynistic editorial cartoons within a week has disgraced the reputation of the newspaper we and the community love. The cartoons display a contempt for women and an obvious deep-seated prejudice against them. The cartoons are not witty, insightful or funny. They are a puerile recycling of ridiculous, outdated and hurtful tropes about women that have rightfully brought scorn upon this newspaper.

Did you not read the letters to the editor that were highly critical of the first two cartoons? Why would there be a third one on Sunday? Do you even care that, as they did following the racist editorial, subscribers and advertisers are cutting ties with us?

Our editorial page should reflect our community. It should treat everyone with dignity, respect and human kindness. It should engender thoughtful discussion about issues we face. These cartoons do none of that. They are misogynistic, pure and simple. This cannot stand. It is wrong, it is hateful, it is a disgrace.

The 150 talented, dedicated, committed newsroom employees represented by the Newspaper Guild respectfully request this childish, unseemly, intellectually dishonest behavior cease immediately. Only then can we attempt to re-establish the respect for this newspaper that your actions may have irreparably harmed.

Michael A. Fuoco, President
Jonathan D. Silver, Unit Chairman
and members of The Newspaper Guild Executive Committee