Simon & Schuster Brushes Off ‘Woke’ Employees, Will Not Cancel Mike Pence Book Deal
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Vice President Mike Pence presides over a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress has reconvened to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump, hours after a pro-Trump mob broke into the U.S. Capitol and disrupted proceedings. (Photo by Erin Schaff - Pool/Getty Images)
Erin Schaff – Pool/Getty Images

Simon & Schuster, the publishing house that, earlier this year, canceled Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley’s book, citing the January 6th riot at the United States Capitol, drew the line on its own “woke-ness” Monday, refusing to bend to employees demanding they similarly “cancel” former Vice President Mike Pence’s two-book deal.

“Simon & Schuster Chief Executive Jonathan Karp said Tuesday the publisher would proceed with a book by former Vice President Mike Pence despite objections from some of its employees, saying he wants to preserve a culture that presents different perspectives,” The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

“The publisher responded to petitions being circulated by its employees internally and on social media,” the outlet added. “They demanded that the company cancel Mr. Pence’s book, refrain from signing deals with other Trump administration figures, and cut off a distribution relationship with Post Hill Press, a publisher of conservative books.”

The petition, circulated online but without visible signatories, accused Simon & Schuster of engaging in “complicity in perpetuating white supremacy by publishing Mike Pence and continuing to distribute books for Post Hill Press,” and claimed Simon & Schuster was “legitimizing bigotry” and “rehabilitating fascists” by inking a book deal with the former Vice President.

“By choosing to publish Mike Pence, Simon & Schuster is generating wealth for a central figure of a presidency that unequivocally advocated for racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Blackness, xenophobia, misogyny, ableism, islamophobia, antisemitism, and violence. This is not a difference of opinions; this is legitimizing bigotry,” the petition claimed.

“Rehabilitating fascists is antithetical to the statements released by Simon & Schuster in support of AAPI/Black lives. It puts all of our BIPOC, women, LGBTQ+, disabled, neurodivergent, immigrant, working-class employees, and the greater bookseller/reviewer/reading community in immediate and long-term danger and dismisses the generations of violence that have contributed to our direct oppression,” the petition went on. “Your attempts to silence us by refusing to answer questions at the town hall or even dedicate a full hour to this matter, will not work.”

Taking aim at Post Hill Press, which publishes titles marketed to conservatives, the employees accused Simon & Schuster of participating in and normalizing “violence against minors, Black women, and all Black people by individuals and the state.”

Although Karp announced last week that the company would drop plans to publish a book written by one of the officers who responded to Breonna Taylor’s Louisville, Kentucky, apartment the night she was shot and killed, Karp refused to budge on the company’s deal with Pence.

“Regardless of where authors sit on the ideological spectrum, or if they hold views that run counter to the belief systems held by some of us, we apply a rigorous standard to assure that in acquiring books, we will be bringing into the world works that provide new information or perspectives on events to which we otherwise might not have access,” Karp said in response to the petition.

“As a publisher in this polarized era, we have experienced outrage from both sides of the political divide and from different constituencies and groups,” Karp said in his response. “But we come to work each day to publish, not cancel, which is the most extreme decision a publisher can make, and one that runs counter to the very core of our mission to publish a diversity of voices and perspectives.”

In the final paragraph of Karp’s letter, though, he does admit that the company is “making progress” towards a more “inclusive” future, opening the door, possibly, to further efforts to “cancel” conservative authors and others whose perspectives do not align with those of Simon & Schuster’s woke employees.

“Over the last year, we have done much work to make Simon & Schuster a more open and inclusive workplace,” Karp noted. “We remain focused on how we can change our culture for the better and improve our publishing programs. The conversations we’ve been having will help us evolve as a company. The pace of change may not be as fast as some of you would like, but we remain committed to progress.”

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