The Atlantic has fired conservative writer Kevin Williamson after a past episode of his podcast resurfaced in which he called for women who have abortions to face the death penalty.
The Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg made the announcement to staff in a memo Thursday, according to multiple media reports.
Williamson’s hiring last month had already drawn scrutiny over past tweets in which he stated that “the law should treat abortion like any other homicide” and that for punishment, “I have hanging more in mind." Those tweets have since been deleted.
"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 wrote in the memo.
"The tweet was not merely an impulsive, decontextualized, heat-of-the-moment post, as Kevin had explained it. 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."
Full memo from Atlantic editor Jeff Goldberg to staff on Kevin Williamson pic.twitter.com/8R7rtEoS5L— Max Tani (@maxwelltani) April 5, 2018
The former National Review writer’s firing comes one day after Media Matters resurfaced an old episode of Williamson’s podcast in which he reiterated his calls for women who have abortions to be hanged.
“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 the 2014 podcast episode, according to Media Matters.
“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. 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.”
Goldberg had initially defended Williamson's hiring in a memo to staff last month, saying he likes to “give people second chances and the opportunity to change.”