Employees at book publisher Simon & Schuster filed a petition demanding the company cut ties with authors associated with former President Donald Trump.
The petition managed to garner 216 internal signatures and nearly four thousand external supporters including, according to Fox Business, “well-known Black writers.”
The petition took aim specifically at former Vice President Mike Pence who signed a two-book deal with the company that Axios notes are “part of a strategy to be vocal and visible ahead of a possible 2024 presidential race.”
The letter requests that the publisher avoid treating “the Trump administration as a ‘normal’ chapter in American history.”
Is this part of larger phenomenon of people and ideas being “cancelled” from the realm of book publishing and other speech outlets, reminiscent of individuals getting booted and banned from social media platforms?
Axios notes, “The free speech debate that has engulfed social media platforms is now extended to any information gatekeeper, even those not obligated to host anyone’s speech.”
Simon & Schuster currently employs roughly 1,500 people, meaning roughly 15 percent of a company that relies on publishing and some form of free speech believes it is okay to shut down political opponents.
Hundreds of Simon & Schuster Employees Demand No Book Deals for Authors Tied to Trump Admin https://t.co/wKuGPRBxDb
— Yashar Ali (@yashar) April 26, 2021
Simon & Schuster Exec Fights Back Against Trump Petition
Jonathan Karp, a Simon & Schuster Chief Executive, sent an internal letter to employees upon first getting wind of the anti-Trump petition, rejecting their demands.
“As a publisher in this polarized era, we have experienced outrage from both sides of the political divide and from different constituencies and groups,” Karp wrote.
“But we come to work each day to publish, not cancel, which is the most extreme decision a publisher can make, and one that runs counter to the very core of our mission to publish a diversity of voices and perspectives.”
Simon & Schuster rejects employees’ call to drop Pence book deal: “We come to work each day to publish, not cancel” https://t.co/zp8SyBBBHm
— The Hill (@thehill) April 21, 2021
Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) scoffed at Karp’s letter, noting his book, “The Tyranny of Big Tech,” was canceled by Simon & Schuster.
The publisher cited the Capitol protest in January explaining, it “cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat.”
“‘We come to work to publish, not to cancel,’” Hawley quoted before adding, “Since when?”
Woke mob pressuring Simon & Schuster to cancel more books. Head of S&S replies, “We come to work to publish, not to cancel.” Since when? Order here the book Simon & Schuster tried to cancel! https://t.co/CUHpkvMIrI
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) April 21, 2021
Karp’s letter also notes Simon & Schuster dropped distribution of a book being written by a Louisville police officer involved in the deadly shooting of Breonna Taylor after a public outcry.
“That decision was immediate, unprecedented, and responsive to the concerns we heard from you and our authors,” Karp wrote. “At the same time, we have contractual obligations and must continue to respect the terms of our agreements with our client publishers.”
Axios also notes that the company canceled its book deal with controversial conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos in 2017.
Dropping the officer’s book, along with Hawley’s, is simply blood in the water for people trying to cancel different viewpoints. The mob won’t ever stop.
Publishers picking and choosing which voices they want to be heard based on the author’s politics or simply because they have a different take on current events creates a slippery slope.
Simon & Schuster CEO refuses to cancel Mike Pence’s book deal despite pressure from employees https://t.co/RZrzkUims5
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) April 21, 2021
It isn’t just the publishing industry being pressured into canceling anyone associated with the Trump administration.
An op-ed by the staff at Forbes in January threatened companies who plan to hire members of President Trump’s inner circle that they will immediately be dismissed by the magazine as liars.
“Let it be known to the business world: Hire any of Trump’s fellow fabulists above, and Forbes will assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie,” the column reads.
The chief content officer of @forbes warns any company that hires “Trump’s fabulists” — naming Conway, McInaney, Spicer, Grisham, etc. — they will “assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie.”
— Carl Quintanilla (@carlquintanilla) January 9, 2021
The staff of a top business magazine then issued an explicit threat to companies trying to hire qualified individuals.
“Want to ensure the world’s biggest business media brand approaches you as a potential funnel of disinformation?” they cautioned. “Then hire away.”
Axios, in addressing the Simon & Schuster petition states: “The book industry has been forced to reckon with the role it plays in publishing content that could be offensive or immoral.”
If one is not willing to publish ideas from people whose only offense is having a different political view then it may be time to find a new line of work.
Now is the time to support and share the sources you trust.
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