A New York City book editor who worked on a number of high-profile conservative titles — including "Triggered" by Donald Trump Jr. — recently was shown the door at Hachette Book Group, allegedly over her politics, the New York Times reported.
What are the details?
Kate Hartson, the 67-year-old editorial director of the publisher's conservative Center Street imprint made a "tidy profit for her employer," the Times said, adding that she grabbed manuscripts that most big-name publishers wouldn't touch. She also shepherded Corey Lewandowski's "Trump: America First: The President Succeeds Against All Odds" and titles by Fox News host Jeanine Pirro and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the paper added.
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But Hachette, like The New York Times and other media companies, has been torn in recent years between the politics of its staff and its historic commitment to publishing conservative speech. Its liberal proprietors, of course, always abhorred the conservative content while cashing the checks. At Hachette, this meant employees having their salaries paid by Donald Trump Jr. while objecting to publishing liberals who had fallen out of favor, like Woody Allen or J.K. Rowling.
Ms. Hartson's list was a somewhat more direct attack on her colleagues' politics. The last book she bought was the forthcoming "Woke Inc.: Inside Corporate America's Social Justice Scam," by Vivek Ramaswamy. And so last month, even as Ms. Hartson was riding high with the best-selling political book on Amazon, "Unmasked: Inside Antifa's Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy," Hachette fired her.
The official reasons for Ms. Hartson's termination, two people familiar with it said, were mundane. But she told associates that she believed she'd been fired for her politics. In a Zoom meeting with employees on Jan. 26, the chief executive of Hachette Book Group, Michael Pietsch, and Daisy Hutton, the executive who oversees Center Street, didn't mention Ms. Hartson. But they reassured employees that they had learned the lessons of the Capitol siege of Jan. 6: no hate speech, no incitement to violence, no false narratives. And they've separately made clear to both editors and agents that they're shifting back toward think tank conservatives, and away from fire-breathing politicians. (Ms. Hartson didn't respond to questions about her views and her firing.)
For his part, Ngo tweeted Tuesday that "Hartson was a great editor. I never knew her politics. She was only concerned with making sure my writing was accurate & professional."
"The conservative movement is in a state of flux, and the next few years will be a particularly rich time for conversation about the future of conservatism in America," the Nashville-based Hutton, whose background is primarily in Christian publishing, told the paper in an email. "Center Street will continue to publish thoughtful, provocative, lively and informative books that contribute meaningfully to the shaping of that conversation."
We've already seen Simon & Schuster cancelling its book deal with U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley last month over the Missouri Republican's "role" in events that led to rioting at the U.S. Capitol. Simon & Schuster also will stop publishing conservative figure Candace Owens, the Times said, citing two sources familiar with its plans.
However, Simon & Schuster announced earlier this month that one of its imprints will publish a memoir from Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, who recently acknowledged he's under federal investigation.
In addition, hundreds of American publishing industry professionals — editors, authors, agents, and others — signed a "letter of intent" demanding that publishing houses blacklist members of former President Donald Trump's administration.
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These tensions are, in part, about free speech. An older generation of publishing executives had long argued that they had a responsibility to publish voices they disagreed with as part of their function in a democracy. Thomas Spence, the president of the conservative publisher Regnery, said he regarded the shift by the Big Five (soon to be four, when Penguin Random House completes its acquisition of Simon & Schuster) as a "form of blacklisting." [...]
In the new media world, many publishing employees see their companies not as powerful gatekeepers but as workplaces and consider these political questions to be labor issues, not speech issues. They don't feel any obligation to help authors who they believe are hostile, in particular, to their ethnic or sexual identities. They're part of a trend across the publishing industry that became visible in 2017 when employees and writers pushed Simon & Schuster to cancel a book by the far-right writer Milo Yiannopoulos, said Dennis Johnson, a founder of the left-leaning publishing company Melville House. "The current state of politics, just like it's riven the country, is doing the same to publishing," he said.