infamous editorial titled "Reason as Racism." The piece argued that calling someone a racist is "the new McCarthyism" and that the only people that can be deemed racists are mass murders like Dylann Roof, who killed nine people in a church because they were Black. That editorial provoked a significant backlash from Pittsburgh's foundation community and even the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, the labor union that represents P-G employees.
It was also under Burris that cartoonist Rob Rogers was fired for what Rogers said were his critical cartoons of President Donald Trump. Rogers was replaced by cartoonist Steve Kelley, who recently received criticism for drawing three sexist cartoons within one week.
As shown in letter, Burris will maintain his role managing the opinion pages of both the P-G and its sister publication The Toledo Blade. Nolan Rosenkrans, reporter at the Blade and President of Newspaper Guild/CWA #34043, was not thrilled with the move and called Burris a "puppet" for Block.
Block has defended the opinion section's sharp shift to the right in recent years, and says he believes there are people in the Pittsburgh region who appreciated the far-right content. One of them is KDKA talk radio host Wendy Bell, but most chatter on social media condemns the P-G's new tactics, mostly because the P-G was considered the city's left-leaning paper for decades.
This is a huge conflict of interest, and just an other in a line of unethical acts taken by Block Communications. But this is really no surprise, as Keith Burris is and has been a puppet for John Block. https://t.co/0WbpCyLPmS— Nolan_Rosenkrans (@NolanRosenkrans) February 18, 2019
The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, which Silver chairs, has been at odds with Burris since he started at the P-G. The guild has issued official rebukes of his editorial decisions, including his editorial on racism and Kelley's sexist cartoons. The guild is currently in a years-long contract negation with Block. Guild members haven't received a raise in more than a decade.
On Feb 9., Block threw a tantrum in the P-G offices after seeing a poster the guild put up that said "Shame on the Blocks." The guild filed an NLRB complaint shortly after.