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Simon & Schuster employees start petition to ban authors associated with Trump administration

More than 200 employees of Simon & Schuster have signed a petition demanding that the company stops publishing authors affiliated with the Trump administration.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the petition collected 216 internal signatures and more than 3,500 signatures from outside supporters, including two-time National Book Award winner, Jesmyn Ward.

The petition was submitted to top executives on Monday, just a week after Simon & Schuster’s CEO Jonathan Karp announced in a letter that the company would move forward with former vice president Mike Pence’s multi-million dollar book deal.

In the petition, the employees demands that the company refrain from publishing Pence’s memoir and that Simon & Schuster not treat ‘the Trump administration as a “normal” chapter in American history’.

The 216 employees who signed the petition represent about 14 per cent of the publishing company’s workforce, which equates to around 1,500 people. 

More than 200 employees of Simon & Schuster (file image) have signed a petition demanding that the company stops publishing authors affiliated with the Trump administration

Petition from the employees of Simon & Schuster

A statement from the workforce of S&S:

The events of the past week have affirmed that Simon & Schuster has chosen complicity in perpetuating white supremacy by publishing Mike Pence and continuing to distribute books for Post Hill Press, including predator Matt Gaetz’s FIREBRAND.

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.

Long before his Vice Presidency, Mike Pence made a career out of discriminating against marginalized groups and denying resources to BIPOC and LGBTQA+ communities. From advocating for legalized discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, to eroding the teaching of science in favor of Christian theology in public-funded schools, to ending energy efficiency programs, to pushing for guns to be in schools and cars, to taking away funding for and shutting down clinics treating HIV patients, to promoting conversion therapy, to denying bodily autonomy to pregnant people, to abandoning a nation in crisis as the coronavirus ran rampant and killed more than half a million Americans. Mike Pence has literal and figurative blood on his hands. We demand you cancel Mike Pence’s book deal.

Even though S&S cancelled its distribution of the book by white supremacist and murderer Jonathan Mattingly, by choosing to continue to distribute Post Hill Press, whose titles include Matt Gaetz’s racist manifesto, the company openly supports and normalizes violence against minors, Black women, and all Black people by individuals and the state. This is unacceptable in light of the recent murders of Daunte Wright, Peyton Ham, Adam Toledo, Ma’Khia Bryant*, Andrew Brown Jr*, and countless others, over the centuries of harm caused by people in positions of power. We demand you drop all distribution ties with Post Hill Press.

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. 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. As the employees who are the reason that Simon & Schuster exists, we demand the following:

1. Cancel the two-book deal with Mike Pence and do not sign any more book deals with former members of the Trump administration.

2. End Simon & Schuster’s distribution deal with Post Hill Press.

3. Commit to ongoing reevaluations of all clients, authors, distribution deals, and all other financial commitments that promote white supremacist content and/or harm the aforementioned marginalized communities.

We impart to you the sad and unfortunate truth that we are actively making history right now: people will look back on this one day, and see that through our complicity, we chose to be on what is clearly the wrong side of justice. 

The employees also demand the company reviews all of its deals and ‘financial commitments that promote white supremacist content and/or harm the aforementioned marginalized communities’. 

Additionally, the staffers want Simon & Schuster to end its affiliation with an imprint that had planned to distribute a book written by one of the officers involved in the fatal Breonna Taylor raid in Louisville. 

The publishing company announced earlier this month that Pence had signed a two-book deal. 

The deal, which would see the first book published in 2023, was estimated to be worth between $3million to $4million and will recall his four years in the White House. 

In response to the demands that Pence’s deal be canceled, Karp said in a letter to his employees: ‘As a publisher in this polarized era, we have experienced outrage from both sides of the political divide and from different constituencies and groups. 

‘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.

‘We will, therefore, proceed in our publishing agreement with Vice President Mike Pence.’  

The news came on the same day Pence revealed he was back at work after undergoing surgery to have a pacemaker.  

Simon & Schuster's CEO Jonathan Karp

Mike Pence

Simon & Schuster’s CEO Jonathan Karp told employees last week that the company would be going ahead with Mike Pence’s two-book deal despite the petition from staffers 

In the letter sent to employees on Tuesday, Karp said: '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 letter sent to employees on Tuesday, Karp said: ‘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’

Karp’s decision came less than a week after Simon & Schuster announced it was dropping plans to distribute a book by Louisville police officer Jonathan Mattingly, who was shot by Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend during the raid that killed her. 

The book is being published by Tennessee-based Post Hill Press, which has distributing deals with Simon & Schuster.

Simon & Schuster released a statement following the backlash surrounding the book saying they had ‘decided not be involved in the distribution’. 

Employees of the company then started the petition and called on Simon & Schuster to forego any future deals with former members of the Trump administration.

It also called on Simon & Schuster to end its distribution deal with Post Hill Press. 

Part of the petition read: ‘The events of the past week have affirmed that Simon & Schuster has chosen complicity in perpetuating white supremacy by publishing Mike Pence and continuing to distribute books for Post Hill Press. 

‘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 said that by continuing to distribute Post Hill Press, even after canceling the book by Mattingly, the publisher was supporting and normalizing violence.

Reports of the Mattingly book deal were met with widespread anger on social media, with Simon & Schuster authors Jennifer Weiner and Saeed Jones among those condemning it.

Louisville police officer Jonathan Mattingly

Breonna Taylor

Karp’s decision came less than a week after Simon & Schuster announced it was dropping plans to distribute a book by Louisville police officer Jonathan Mattingly (left), who was shot by Breonna Taylor’s (right) boyfriend during the raid that killed her 

Simon & Schuster released a statement following the backlash surrounding the book saying they had 'decided not be involved in the distribution'

Simon & Schuster released a statement following the backlash surrounding the book saying they had ‘decided not be involved in the distribution’

Karp went on to address the decision to not distribute Mattingly’s book in his letter to staff, saying it ‘was immediate, unprecedented and responsive to the concerns we heard from you and our authors’.

He added: ‘At the same time, we have contractual obligations and must continue to respect the terms of our agreements with our client publishers.’

Karp also noted Simon & Schuster applies ‘rigorous standard’ to acquiring books ‘regardless of where those authors sit on the ideological spectrum or if they hold views that run counter to the belief systems held by some of us. 

‘The judgement each of us renders about particular books is inherently subjective. Discussing how we perceive various works is one of the joys of our business.

‘When we share an enthusiastic consensus about a title, we are a positive and powerful force in the culture. 

‘When we allow our judgement to dwell on the books we dislike, we distract ourselves from our primary purpose as a publisher – to champion the books we believe in and love.’ 


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