Roughly two weeks after announcing his hiring, The Atlantic has announced that they have cut ties with Kevin Williamson. The change in direction came after Williamson’s views on abortion and the death penalty resurfaced and were the subject of intense criticism.
On his since deleted Twitter account and National Review podcast, Williamson had advocated using the death penalty on people who have had an abortion. Jeffrey Goldberg, the editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, wrote in an internal memo that initially they felt this view was contained to the tweet and that “no one’s life work should be judged by an intemperate tweet.” However, the podcast and “conversations with him in recent days” indicated that those views were “his carefully considered views.” Thus, Williamson’s language “callous and violent” and against “The Atlantic’s tradition of respectful, well-reasoned debate, and to the values of our workplace.”
The memo also seems to indicate that Williamson had initially misrepresented the nature of the tweet to The Atlantic. Goldberg wrote that (bold ours) “The tweet was not merely an impulsive, decontextualized, heat-of-the-moment post, as Kevin had explained it.” Later information then caused The Atlantic to realize that was not the case.
Efforts to reach Williamson by publication time were unsuccessful.
In his time at the time at The Atlantic, Williamson wrote one piece– on the libertarian movement. Half an hour after Williamson was fired from The Atlantic, National Review (his employer until roughly two weeks ago) published a piece criticizing his first and now only column. The piece by Victor David Hanson ripped Williamson frequently, calling his columns “incoherent and cruel” and wrote that “Kevin has expressed himself freely both in print and in interviews in ways that many thought were antithetical to the values of many conservatives.” Nonetheless, Hanson concluded that “Sadly, I think Kevin Williamson will soon find that National Review was far more tolerant of his controversial views than will be true at The Atlantic.” Although by the time that piece was published, the future tense should have be changed to past.