In the ongoing rush by mainstream publications to hire conservative opinion writers who don’t support Trump but have no shortage of loathsome views on almost every other issue, The Atlantic’s EIC Jeffrey Goldberg announced last week that his magazine had hired The National Review’s Kevin Williamson. The move was made in the interest of ideological diversity, that wonderful principle that somehow seems to exclude anyone from the democratic-socialist political left. Anyway, it provoked quite a backlash, including here at Paste, and it appears that the heat was a little too much for Goldberg. He capitulated today, and per The Guardian’s Jessica Valenti, Williamson is toast:
Goldberg’s big problem here was Williamson’s belief, first expressed in a now-deleted tweet, that women who have abortions should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. How full is fullest? To Williamson, that means the death penalty, and specifically death by hanging. What Goldberg didn’t realize, after initially excusing the “impulsive tweet,” was that Williamson also appeared on a podcast where he doubled down on his assertion, and seemed to take a certain amount of glee in the idea of killing these women:
KEVIN WILLIAMSON (CO-HOST): But yeah, so when I was talking about, I would totally go with treating it like any other crime up to and including hanging — which kind of, as I said, I’m kind of squishy about capital punishment in general, but I’ve got a soft spot for hanging as a form of capital punishment. I tend to think that things like lethal injection are a little too antiseptic —
CHARLES C.W. COOKE (CO-HOST): Sure, if you’re going to do it.
WILLIAMSON: — quasi-medical — yeah, if the state is going to do violence, let’s make it violence.
All of this, of course, ignores the other disgusting views Williamson has espoused over the years, helpfully compiled here by Media Matters. Apparently comparing black kids to apes or insulting Mexican immigrants or heaping scorn on poor people didn’t hit Goldberg’s “red flag” standard. Or maybe it did, and he’s using the abortion issue as an excuse to atone for his terrible decision. In any case, better late than never.
As for Williamson, he’ll be fine. There are no shortage of safety nets for those mercenaries with a very slight spark of writing ability willing to espouse far-right views. Real journalism is engaged in a bitter struggle for survival, but writers who spend their time bolstering the powerful and disdaining the unfortunate will never struggle to eat.