Editor’s Note: The following is Michael Huling’s weekly Highlight.
On Thursday, The Atlantic announced that they had parted ways with conservative columnist Kevin Williamson, after hiring him two weeks prior. Williamson has been a prominent conservative commentator and prolific columnist for the past decade, becoming a recognizable figure at National Review. His hiring represented a glimmer of hope for a more balanced media, an industry that is dominated by the left. It’s no secret that the vast majority of mainstream media coverage is biased to the left, but many people do not understand just how overwhelming the homogeneity of journalists has become. A well documented 2014 survey revealed that a mere seven percent of journalists identify as Republicans, a number that can likely only be rivaled by Hollywood.
The reluctance of many mainstream publications to hire conservatives has been obvious for years. The New York Times made waves in 2017 by bringing in both Bret Stephens and Bari Weiss. When Stephens wrote his first op-ed column for the paper, one in which he expressed the slightest skepticism over climate change alarmism, many readers responded by cancelling their subscriptions. Stephens didn’t deny the existence of climate change, nor did he say that humans aren’t the primary contributing factor. He simply shared his observations of the over-the-top climate change hysteria that was impeding discussions that are desperately needed for the sake of science and humanity. It was clear that readers who felt compelled to cancel their subscription had no genuine interest in debate, or even simply tolerating a perspective that wasn’t synonymous with their own.
Another interesting aspect of this is that Williamson, Stephens, and Weiss are all very critical of President Trump. Each of them would likely tag themselves as loyal members of the Never Trump™ clique. It begs the question of whether they would’ve been hired in the first place had they been openly pro-Trump, as that may be the baseline litmus test for conservatives who wish to work with left-leaning publications. Folks on the left often point out that Trump is a uniquely divisive and repulsive Republican, justifying their constant attacks against him. I mostly agree with this, but when asked about typical Republicans like Vice President Mike Pence or Sen. Ted Cruz, they often respond with a similar level of disgust. The hatred that they have for Trump appears to have less to do with his abhorrent character, and more to do with the fact that he’s a Republican.
While many of us on the right cheered the news of having Williamson bring his ideas and perspectives to a highly regarded publication, some of the leftist columnists and readers of The Atlantic were disgusted by the idea of having a conservative within their ranks. The opportunity for ideological diversity was not an area of interest for these people, and countless other left-leaning publications jumped on their high horses and raced to the condemnation finish line as fast as they could.
Slate asked “Why would The Atlantic hire Kevin Williamson?” Media Matters exclaimed that “The Atlantic hiring him is even worse than you think.” Observer said “It turns out publishing ‘My Family’s Slave’ wasn’t The Atlantic’s worst decision of the year.” The Slot responded with “Conservative ding-dong gets to talk about abortion now.”
During his extremely short tenure with The Atlantic, Willamson wrote one column for the site, titled “The Passing of the Libertarian Moment.” Like much of what he has written over the years, the piece brilliantly analyzes the political tides of our nation with complete clarity. While Williamson can be controversially provocative, which is part of his appeal, there’s no denying his writing talent or political knowledge. He develops arguments through evidence and reasoning, pulling no punches in explaining his thoughts on any subject. His views mostly fall in line with typical conservatism, and he doesn’t hesitate to vilify abortion or castigate the absurdity of transgenderism.
USA Today argues that “Kevin Williamson wasn’t fired by ‘The Atlantic’ for being anti-abortion or having ‘mainstream’ conservative views. He was fired for wanting women to suffer.” This is inane and utterly dishonest. This same article later explains that The Atlantic hired him “knowing he was an articulate conservative who opposes abortion rights.” Other than the slight of hand pushing “abortion rights,” this point is correct. It’s also what makes this entire story so chilling.
Williamson was hired for his phenomenal writing skill that seamlessly captivates readers, and fired after leftists both inside and outside of the publication called for his head. The heckler’s veto proved to be successful once again, a disgustingly intolerant phenomenon that has become ubiquitous at universities across the nation. Conservative speakers and authors are routinely censored and silenced, not for being violent, hateful, or bigoted, but for their audacity of simply being conservative. When uncontroversial figures like Ben Shapiro, Dennis Prager, and Jordan Peterson are met with violent riots at college campuses, we correctly attribute this to radical leftists who aren’t representative of the left as a whole. However, the attacks on Williamson over these past couple weeks have primarily come from prominent left-leaning commentators and publications. The rhetoric and behavior that was unique to the fringe left has been adopted by broader swaths of the mainstream left. That’s extremely concerning, to say the least. Not just for conservatives or free speech advocates, but for the country as a whole. The more that the right and left get sucked into the fringe movements on their respective sides, the more our discourse will decline into the tribalism that is already tearing out society apart.
In the words of Kevin Williamson, thanks “to those of you who from time to time are kind enough to take a few minutes out of your day to support us writers.” It may just be a few minutes to you, but I’m grateful to everyone who continues to read and support my work.
The Fun Stuff:
Last week, I correctly predicted that Villanova would win the national championship, and I was correct, as usual. As much as I wanted Loyola-Chicago to pull it off against all odds, it simply wasn’t to be. It was a thrilling tournament from beginning to end, and it’s safe to say that after I spend all of next college basketball season not watching a single game, I will excitedly watch March Madness again.
The Yankees are off to a decent start this season, although I’ve already found myself yelling and throwing things around the house while watching them play. I attended my first baseball game of the year on Monday, seeing my hometown Padres lose, again. There’s nothing like being at the ballpark, with the sites, sounds, and smells making each visit that much more memorable. For anyone who doesn’t believe that a ballgame isn’t my favorite place to be, I spent my birthday last year at a Dodgers vs. Cardinals game that went 13 innings. My birthday happens to fall in the middle of finals week, and you better believe I stayed for all 13 innings until the last pitch.
I was also accepted to UC Santa Barbara, which may very well end up being where I finish my college years. I’ll have a final decision on this within the next few weeks, pending a final college (UC San Diego) that I’m waiting to hear back from.
I don’t think I have anything else for this week, so I’ll leave you with a great video explaining how hurricanes actually begin:
Have a great weekend and God bless.
Follow the author on Twitter