Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg said Thursday the magazine was “parting ways” with newly hired conservative writer Kevin Williamson after fresh evidence emerged that he had endorsed hanging women who get abortions.
Goldberg had initially defended hiring Williamson from National Review despite complaints about his previous writing, some of which critics said was racially insensitive or offensive to transgender people. Much of the criticism involved a 2014 tweet that suggested women who had abortions “should face capital punishment, namely hanging.”
On Wednesday, the liberal research group Media Matters unearthed a podcast in which Williamson expressed the same position.
“The language he used in this podcast — and in my conversations with [Williamson] in recent days — made it clear that the original tweet did, in fact, represent his carefully considered view,” Goldberg told staff in a Thursday memo.
“The tweet was not merely an impulsive, decontextualized, heat-of-the-moment post, as Kevin had explained it,” Goldberg continued. “Furthermore, the language used in the podcast was callous and violent. This runs contrary to The Atlantic’s tradition of respectful, well-reasoned debate, and to the values of our workplace.”
Goldberg described Williamson — who only joined last month after a decade at National Review — as “a gifted writer." But Goldberg said he came to the conclusion “that The Atlantic is not the best fit for his talents, and so we are parting ways.”
“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,” Goldberg wrote. “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.”