By Mike Murphy
Simon & Schuster said Thursday it has canceled an upcoming book from Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, who has been widely condemned for stoking disinformation that culminated with a pro-Trump mob storming the U.S. Capitol.
The publisher cited Wednesday’s “disturbing, deadly insurrection” as the reason. “We did not come to this decision lightly,” Simon & Schuster said in a statement. “As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints: At the same time we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat.”
Hawley’s book, “The Tyranny of Big Tech,” was scheduled to be published in June. Simon & Schuster is a unit of ViacomCBS Inc. /zigman2/quotes/200340870/composite VIAC +3.19% .
Hawley responded late Thursday by blaming “cancel culture” and calling Simon & Schuster’s move “a direct assault on the First Amendment.” In fact, the First Amendment protects individuals from government infringements of their free speech; publishers are free to do book deals with whomever they like.
The Missouri senator has been excoriated for pushing false claims of election fraud, undermining the democratic process and encouraging a crowd of pro-Trump supporters in front of the Capitol on Wednesday morning.
On Wednesday, the Kansas City Star published an editorial saying Hawley “has blood on his hands,” blaming him for a “coup attempt.” On Thursday, former Republican Sen. John Dansforth of Missouri said his support for Hawley’s Senate bid was “the worst mistake I ever made in my life.”