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Conservative writer fired from The Atlantic for his comments on abortion — here's what he said

Conservative writer Kevin Williamson was fired from The Atlantic for comments he made about abortion during a 2014 podcast. (Image source: YouTube video screenshot)

The Atlantic fired conservative writer Kevin Williamson on Thursday after a 2014 podcast surfaced Wednesday. In the podcast, Williamson said women who get abortions should be subject to hanging, The Hill reports.

What happened?

The Atlantic hired Williamson last month after he previously worked for the National Review.

On Wednesday, Media Matters dug up a 2014 episode of Williamson’s podcast, where he made some inflammatory comments about punishing women who get abortions.

What did he say?

“And someone challenged me on my views on abortion, saying, ‘If you really thought it was a crime you would support things like life in prison, no parole, for treating it as a homicide.’ And I do support that, in fact, as I wrote, what I had in mind was hanging,” Williamson said in 2014.

“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,” Williamson said. “I tend to think that things like lethal injection are a little too antiseptic … quasi-medical — yeah, if the state is going to do violence, let’s make it violence. Let’s not pretend like we’re doing something else.”

This viewpoint from Williamson was not new information; Williamson had tweeted (and since deleted) before that “the law should treat abortion like any other homicide,” saying, “I have hanging more in mind.” Those comments circulated through the media when Williamson was hired in March.

Atlantic editor Jeff Goldberg told the staff in a memo when Williamson was hired that he wanted to “give people second chances and the opportunity to change.”

What did The Atlantic say in its statement?

The Atlantic issued a statement to the staff Thursday about Williamson’s firing. Some excerpts:

“Late yesterday afternoon, information came to our attention that has caused us to reconsider this relationship,” the statement read. “Specifically, the subject of one of Kevin’s most controversial tweets was also the 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.”

“We remain committed to grappling with complex moral issues in our journalism. Some of our colleagues are pro-life, and some are pro-choice; we have pro-death-penalty and anti-death-penalty writers; we have liberals and conservatives. We obviously understood that Kevin himself is pro-life when we asked him to write for us. This is not about Kevin’s views on abortion.”

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