The Atlantic Fires Conservative Writer Over Abortion Views

Kevin Williamson / Twitter
• April 5, 2018 4:24 pm


The Atlantic fired Kevin Williamson on Thursday over past comments he made on abortion, ending the conservative columnist's time at the magazine only two weeks after the publication hired him.

The Atlantic‘s editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, informed the publication's staff of Williamson's departure via email, according to multiple press reports.

Goldberg's initial decision to hire Williamson as a columnist last month drew rebuke from liberals, who argued that previous columns Williamson wrote for National Review, where he worked before The Atlantic, showcased racist sentiments. They specifically cited a 2014 column in which Williamson "described an encounter with a young black boy using racially loaded terms like ‘three-fifths-scale Snoop Dogg' and describing the boy as a ‘primate,'" the Daily Beast reported.

Critics of the hire also cited a tweet in which Williamson wrote that "the law should treat abortion like any other homicide." The writer added that hanging would be an appropriate punishment.

Goldberg defended his hire, dismissing the abortion comment as "extreme tweeting." But The Atlantic‘s editor in chief changed his stance after Media Matters for America, a left-wing advocacy group, revealed prior comments Williamson made on abortion.

In a 2014 podcast recorded for National Review, the conservative writer said he supports the death penalty for individuals who have an abortion. Williamson argued that current methods of execution, like lethal injection, are "too antiseptic" and that a punishment like "hanging" is more appropriate.

The revelation was enough for Goldberg to jettison his prior defense of Williamson and fire the writer.

"Late yesterday afternoon, information came to our attention that has caused us to reconsider this relationship," Goldberg wrote in his email to staff. "Specifically, the subject of one of Kevin's most controversial tweets was also a centerpiece of a podcast discussion in which Kevin explained his views on the subject of the death penalty and abortion."

"The language he used in this podcast—and in my conversations with him in recent days—made it clear that the original tweet did, in fact, represent his carefully considered views," Goldberg continued. "The tweet was not merely an impulsive, decontextualized, heat-of-the-moment post, as Kevin had explained it."

In his email, Goldberg wrote that The Atlantic did not fire Williamson for being pro-life, but rather because the magazine worried his views and prior statements would result in a negative work atmosphere for female staff members who may have had an abortion.

"Kevin is a gifted writer, and he has been nothing but professional in all of our interactions," Goldberg said. "But I have come to the conclusion that The Atlantic is not the best fit for his talents, and so we are parting ways."