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Simon & Schuster CEO Rejects Calls to Cancel Mike Pence Book, Says Diversity Is 'Healthy'

Michael Foust | Contributor | Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Simon & Schuster CEO Rejects Calls to Cancel Mike Pence Book, Says Diversity Is 'Healthy'

Simon & Schuster CEO Rejects Calls to Cancel Mike Pence Book, Says Diversity Is 'Healthy'

The chief executive of Simon & Schuster said this week the company will go ahead with plans to publish two books by former Vice President Mike Pence, despite calls from some employees to cancel the deal.

CEO Jonathan Karp, rejecting pressure from some employees and bucking a trend, urged employees to embrace “diversity” of thought in the publishing world.

Simon & Schuster had announced in early April it would publish an autobiography and another book by Pence.

“As a publisher in this polarized era, we have experienced outrage from both sides of the political divide and from different constituencies and groups,” Karp wrote in a letter to employees. “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.”

An employee-led petition had argued Simon & Schuster would be making money off a “central figure of a presidency” that advocated for “racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Blackness, xenophobia, misogyny, ableism, islamophobia, antisemitism, and violence.”

Further, the petition said, Pence himself was guilty of “advocating for legalized discrimination against LGBTQ+ people,” “eroding the teaching of science in favor of Christian theology in public-funded schools” and “denying bodily autonomy to pregnant people.”

Pence, as governor of Indiana and as a congressman, supported pro-life policies and opposed same-sex marriage.

“For those who think some of our titles are a step backward,” Kemp wrote, “let’s appreciate the many Simon & Schuster books that are taking us two steps forward. Let’s also acknowledge that we don’t agree on which titles are taking us forward and backward! That tension – that push and pull – is a healthy part of the dialectic provided by classically liberal publishing companies.”

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla/Staff

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.