Much has been said about The Atlantic’s decision to terminate the employment of Kevin Williamson, but one aspect I do not think has been highlighted nearly enough is the fundamental dishonesty of the entire process. This seriously undermines the credibility of everything published by The Atlantic.
When Williamson was hired, there was a lot of complaining – from the publication’s readers and its staff. (As well, I am sure, from people who do not read it.) Under pressure, The Atlantic fired Williamson. But now they are spinning it as if they did not know about Williamson’s beliefs regarding capital punishment for women who have had abortions. Of course, this is an obvious lie.
Everyone knew what Williamson had said for years before he was hired by The Atlantic. This was not a surprise. His works, his opinions and his “firebrand” style were well known when he was offered a job. To pretend that any of this is new information is disgusting and repulsive. No so-called “journalist” should be spewing such obvious lies, especially when everyone knows they are lying.
The truth is the backlash over hiring Williamson led them to believe it was a “mistake.” Faced with the rebellion of readers and staff, the leadership at The Atlantic decided that keeping him was not worth the flack they were getting for hiring him in the first place. Everyone knows this to be a fact. Let me repeat: Everyone knows this. To pretend otherwise is to be a liar.
So why not just be honest about it? I would not agree with the decision, and I would think the editors of The Atlantic are cowards, but at least I could respect them for having the integrity to admit what they did. It is impossible to respect a publication led by people who are both cowards and liars. With this credibility-shredding dishonesty in full view, how can anything The Atlantic publishes be trusted? If they will lie so brazenly about this, how can we trust they will not lie in their “news” coverage? Simple: We can’t.