Publishers’ and authors’ manifesto: We won’t publish books by people who were in the Trump administration

January 19, 2021 • 9:00 am

Regardless of what you think about canceling book deals with those Republicans who urged an audit of the election—as Simon and Schuster did with Josh Hawley’s book (now picked up by Regnery)— surely most readers can’t agree with the letter below, which says that no publisher should put out books by anyone considered part of the Trump administration. (That also holds for those who stormed the capitol, whether or not they were arrested.)

At least that’s the way I interpret the letter, which is genuine and appeared on the website of Barry Lyga, an author of books for young adults(click on screenshot). Lyga, who did not sign the letter, titled his post “No book deals for traitors“, and I presume is opposed to the letter. But it’s already been signed by more than 500 authors, agents, and people who work in publishing; and miscreants are still signing on here. (Click on screenshot to enlarge.)

As I’ve said repeatedly, while publishers have the right to publish whatever books they want, and can reject books based on not just their content but their authors, this is completely unwarranted censorship of authors based on their politics. It means, of course, that not only do the signers oppose publishes accepting Trump’s memoirs, but books by anyone who was part of his administration, including Robert Mueller, Nikki Haley, Anthony Fauci (who did not “scoff at science”), Ben Carson, James Mattis, and so on.And not just books about Trump—books about anything.  (Don’t forget that Obama’s administration also “caged children” as well as killing civilians with drones.)

And it assumes that anybody who worked for the Trump administration agreed with all its policies, which is simply a lie.

This is an attempt to censor works by people who have political opinions different from yours. It is an attempt to silence those who disagree with you and to suppress their views. Beside that, it’s an attempt to punish people for being on the “wrong” side politically. Yet think of all the people who worked in the Trump administration and weren’t big fans of his. Some of these people, or even the “criminals” more closely aligned with Trump, may have worthwhile things to say and to hear.

The 500+ signers of the letter don’t want to hear them, though—indeed, they don’t want anybody to hear them!

This is an example of Woke Fascism: the worst behavior of the Authoritarian Left. They call anyone associated with the Trump administration a criminal, for those who were part of the administration are accused of “enabling, promulgating, and covering up crimes.” Talk about hyperbole!

I won’t reproduce the list of signers (I don’t recognize any of them), but here are some of the houses with Pecksniffian editors and employees. I’ll stop at the J’s:

Jessica Awad (Media Assistant Editor, W. W. Norton & Company)
Kat Bennett (Senior Cartographer, Hachette Book Group)
Rachel Blaifeder (Editor, Cambridge University Press)
Sam Brody (Editorial Assistant at Hachette Book Group)
Megan Carr (Senior Sales Support Associate, HarperCollins Publishers)
Henna Cho (Digital Sales Associate (SImon & Schuster))
Angelica Chong (Editorial Assistant, Macmillan
Mia Council (Assistant editor, Penguin Random House)—MY PUBLISHER!
Michella Domenici (Springer Nature)Rachel Dugan (Publicity Assistant, Penguin Random House)  ANOTHER!
Carl Engle-Laird (Editor, Macmillan)
Leah Gordon (Senior editor, Avalon Travel, an imprint of Hachette Book Group)
Sarah Grill (Associate Editor, Macmillan)
Stephanie Guerdan (Assistant Editor, HarperCollins)
Sarah Homer (Assistant Editor, HarperCollins Publishers)
Madeline Houpt (Editorial Assistant, Macmillan)

I’ll stop now, but have to add that these people do not deserve their jobs in publishing—not when they decide to reject in advance books by anyone who was in the Trump administration. This bodes ill for the future of publishing, for these are reputable houses, and they control a lot of books who go to the public. It’s a metastasis of the cancer of Wokeism.

And if you respond, “Tough. These editors and authors did the right thing in trying to silence Republicans,” then I have no use for you. And I have only marginally more use for those who say, “Nobody’s entitled to a book deal; publishers are doing the right thing by ruling out a priori books by any of these people.” That is an extraordinarily punitive and close-minded point of view.

h/t: cesar

76 thoughts on “Publishers’ and authors’ manifesto: We won’t publish books by people who were in the Trump administration

  1. Ridiculous. Anyone involved in the entire Trump administration? What if their proposed book will be lifting the lid on improper or unconstitutional actions that they witnessed and which the public needs to hear about? Words fail me…

    1. +1 I think some of the most interesting potential books over the next few years are going to be the ones by T***p administration employees. I don’t think the people who drafted the letter really thought it through.

      1. The people who drafted the letter were too busy preening themselves on how woke they are by trying to enslave half the population of the US by forcing them into subjugation. So very woke…

    2. I completely agree. It seems to me there were folks who worked for the Nixon administration whose books about that regime benefited us. Thankfully publishers and their editors didn’t engage in the witch hunts then that we are seeing today.

    3. Yes indeed. In their haste to appear virtuous they are in the process of doing a grave disservice to anyone in the future who might be interested in the history of the Trump presidency and how such a dysfunctional Whitehouse came about, by shutting down people who might have valuable insights into those questions.

      1. I never watched his TV show, but the least familiarity with it should have served as a warning for those thinking of accepting a job working for him in any capacity.
        My understanding is that working for Elon Musk can be a similarly maddening experience. But working for Musk can come with the payoff of being on the cutting edge of design and manufacturing. Buck Rogers made real.
        I have to think that a person wishing to work in diplomacy or government service might, over the last four years, have found that their chosen career path runs through the Trump administration.

        I notice that the document does not distinguish between those brought in for their political views from those hired for other reasons. Must we be expected to purge the White House calligrapher? How about Dr. Adams, the Surgeon General? He seems to have much stronger feelings about the dangers of addiction than any public politics.

    4. Can we assume Obama’s books are going to be banned? After all it was his administration that put children in cages. Or is hypocrisy alive and flourishing in the publishing sector too?

  2. I have no problem with publishers choosing to limit who or what they publish. Curating their portfolios is an essential part of the business, as it is with museums or libraries. 12 is a good example of a highly selective and highly curated publishing company. But, and there is always a “but”, it seems more than a bit childish and short sighted to put forth a blanket ban on an entire group of people, regardless of the subject or what they have to say, never mind the quality or writing. As pointed out in the post, this would include Dr. Fauci, who is the farthest thing from being a fascist tRumper, while technically still being part of the administration. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is censorship or that none of these people should have jobs, since there are other publishing houses that will gladly pick up the books and the money to be made from them. They are private companies, not part of the government and they can choose or reject whatever they wish. Not sure this makes good business sense but that’s their problem.

    1. Interesting choice of a word there. At my work we had to stop using the words ‘blacklist’ and ‘whitelist’ for denoting which IP addresses our web application would and would not accept. I always thought of these words in physical terms (photons get through or not), but others seem to see race in everything.

      1. I always though about blacklist and whitelist in terms of the classic black and white hats worn in old westerns by bad guys and good guys respectively. Of course, they could have their roots in racism but I can’t remember ever thinking of them in terms of race. And, of course, they were all white guys in the westerns. So what names do you use now for blacklist and whitelist? I know we discussed this on another post here some months ago.

      2. Boy! That is woker than an alarm clock at sunrise with a rooster in the room!
        How do you deal? I can only assume there’s more woke nonsense assaulting your sanity every day at work.
        How did you enjoy the compulsory Diversity/Equity/Inclusion workshops I BET they force you to attend and have you decided to stop keeping slaves? (sigh).

        A few years ago I didn’t think the woke thing was a problem – I’m a big time liberal and I saw criticism of it as a Fox news hard right circle jerk. How wrong was I? To quote Andrew Sulivan: “We all on campus now.”

  3. Happily, the signers are individual authors, editors, etc., who are entitled to their own unfortunate opinions and NOT the publishing and printing houses whose position as the Fourth Estate requires them to publish and disseminate all opinions. Simon & Schuster should have reviewed Hawley’s book for incitement/fraud and, if none found, completed their contract to publish. I’m holding out for the pendulum swing back to rational-factual-science based thinking. (… but not holding my breath.)

  4. The main worry I have with a ban like this is that it is a blunt instrument that doesn’t counter the false ideas that this administration foisted on half the voters in this country. Instead, it reinforces the divide and continues the culture wars. This kind of thing does nothing to fight disinformation. Perhaps it is better that the books these people fear actually get published so the presumably bad ideas they present get discussed. Hey, that’s free speech!

  5. This is also just an absolutely LOVELY way to bolster the conspiracy thinking and victimhood culture – to say nothing of the polarization tendencies – of those who lean toward the right. It’s ill advised and ill considered.

    1. Yes, it is not only offensive to free speech, it also reinforces the conspiratorial and paranoid movements that we are upset about. It is mind-bogglingly counterproductive.

  6. The second part basically says they won’t publish anything in support of the Jan 6 insurrection. The first part probably tacitly assumes that anyone who was part of the Admin would be writing in support of it or an apologia, and I don’t think that would be the case. But it doesn’t say that. If it did, on a whole the thing would come under the heading of, “It would look better on your resume than ours.”

    I would like to read an insider’s account of being in the WH during the last 4 yrs, but not one that attempts to justify the regime. (I briefly had a GF during the Nixon era who was a WH secretary, attached to Leonard Garment’s office. I remember her saying that she wouldn’t trust Haldeman to walk across the street to mail a letter.)

    1. Turns out even the other half of Nixon’s Prussian guard — John Ehrlichman — couldn’t trust Haldeman, either, since the tapes show that Nixon and Haldeman would meet before inviting Ehrlichman into the Oval to decide how much to tell him.

      And Nixon threw both of them to the wolves as his defensive perimeter shrunk, eventually to himself alone.

    2. I was alone with Haldeman and his famil, as their guide in the Amazon jungle for a week-long trip. We avoided politics of course but he did tell stories that showed he thought the end justifies the means. His family was really nice. His kids were very liberal Democrats.

  7. I have no objection to individual publishers deciding they’d prefer not to have any association with anyone from the Trump administration. (For comparison purposes, I don’t think Regnery published any memoirs by Obama administration officials.)

    But for the entire US publishing industry to endeavor to form a cartel boycotting Trump administration manuscripts is inimical to fundamental notions of free expression.

    1. There are publishers that will print anything. I don’t think these former Trump employees will have their right to speak and be heard seriously curtailed.

      1. My guess is the market for exposés telling us of the real horrors that went on inside the Trump administration will be much greater than that of puff pieces about how great it was working for Trump. The inevitable books that follow the end of his administration may contribute greatly to the weakening of his power. Some have already been published, of course, but there may be many more released after the fear of retribution by a sitting president has passed.

    2. My thoughts exactly. This is mob action, and creates the impression of pressure. Now, anyone who decides to publish such authors will look bad – almost as bad as if publishing the next book of J. K. Rowling ;-).

  8. It is strange that publishers and journalists are so gung-ho about restricting expression. One would expect that they would have a big interest in protecting free speech.

    1. Committed leftists seem to place ideology above everything else, even when doing so contradicts a basic function of their occupation or vocation.
      A perfect example is when a well-known feminist published an article claiming that a horrible sexual assault on a child was not really rape, because the demographics of the perpetrators put them in the “oppressed” category. The victim, a little girl, was White, and thus a class enemy.

  9. Such a sweeping proclamation seems unwarranted. I do think it is irresponsible (and, increasingly, dangerous) for publishers to spread the hysteria and misinformation that fuels the political right in America. That, however, should be addressed piecemeal, with publishers holding individual authors’ feet to the fire over manuscripts riddled with outrageous claims and likely falsehoods, rather than just lazily blackballing an entire administration.

  10. So reassuring to know that we will be protected from the danger of books by authors who remained in the post office or the NIH during Trump’s presidency. This gesture by editors and authors is so short-sighted, thoughtless, and spiteful that, as others have pointed out, it is merely childish. Revise that: it
    is beyond childish, it is infantile.

    But infantile behavior seems now to be absolutely au courant in the USA. For two months, the country’s chief executive has been throwing the temper tantrum (YOU DIDN’T WIN! I WON!) of a 3-4 year-old. A large part of the Republican Party joined him in the tantrum. On the other side, employees of some media whine that the mere presence of opposing opinions subjects them to “harm”. For more than a decade, the campus wokies have been cowering in fear of unchurched words in books, allusions without trigger warnings, and professors or visitors who might subject them to the terror of a heterodox view. Other Leftists announce that “silence is violence” but looting is not.
    What is going on? Is it something in the bottled water? Or does increased atmospheric CO2 produce regression to infancy along with climate warming?

  11. I’ve expected this and similar measures since 2016 😐
    The motive here seems to be revenge, not genuine moral concern.

  12. What is the mentality that says if you don’t like something being sold, ban it? I was brought up to believe that if I didn’t like something, don’t buy it.

      1. There’s a distinction regarding encouraging others not to buy something. (Such economic boycotts have a long, if often feckless, tradition in this nation.) It’s quite another thing to encourage others not to publish something so that others who wish to cannot buy it to read.

    1. Yeah…I have the same attitude towards gay marriage and abortion. If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get gay married…if you don’t like abortions, don’t get an abortion, etc.

  13. “Josh Hawley’s book (now picked up by Regnery)”

    I called it, in a previous post.

    An unintended consequence of this woke screed, if taken seriously by actual publishers, would be lots of business for Regnery.

    1. > […] would be lots of business for Regnery.

      Most reputable publishers lean left so that one can hardly escape them. My concern: You’d end up with a few crackpot publishers who accept every crazed right-wing screed yet exclude the more moderate parts of the right who will have no voice because they want to remain socially acceptable. No more Twitter, more Parler.


  14. I am a liberal and you are absolutely right in everything you said. The extreme woke and cancel culture must stop. And it is completely hypocritical. I feel like some of it is generational; the liberals of Gen X and older don’t seem to be as much a part of this mindset as the younger ones. They also have a tendency to demonize whole other groups of people, such as men (I’m a woman FYI). Not only is it ideologically wrong, but it makes liberals just look worse and even more unreasonable to conservatives–and in that, they’re sadly not wrong. While criminals must be held accountable and “working together” doesn’t mean “ignoring everything they do wrong,” I hope that Biden’s conciliatory efforts will have some effect on our overall culture.

    1. Yes Lt T.M.:
      I’m no ambassador or spokesperson BUT….
      I’m GenX (b. 1971 so I’m 50) and I agree with you – there is a big cultural difference between ourselves and the kids younger than us. Anecdotally, the “border” of woke seems to be folks under or over 30-35 years old at the moment. I wonder if there was a big change in elementary/high school curricula at the turn of the century?

      Though… grain of salt here… I’m a liberal who has lived 25 years in Manhattan. Chelsea no less, so I’m firmly “bubbled”.


  15. I can’t believe that anyone has even thought about writing such a letter – and from the publishing world? My only hope is that the publishing industry in the US is so big that 500 signatures is a small drop.
    What a dystopian world we seem to be heading to.
    Sorry – not very constructive. Just a gasp of unbelief and despair…

    Anyway: wishing you all on that side a festive Wednesday.

  16. As is common, arguments from waaay over to the left (and waaaaay the hell over to the right) tend to come from emotions and not reasoning. What passes for reasoning is motivated reasoning.

  17. I’ve just finished reading “Inside the Third Reich”, the memoirs of Albert Speer, Hitler’s court architect and Minister of Armaments. It’s a fascinating account detailing the inner workings of the Nazi regime and Hitler’s leadership of it, both before and during the war. Aspects of it have to be taken with a large dose of salt – I think historians are now generally agreed that Speer minimised and covered-up his own awareness of the crimes committed by the most evil regime in history but it’s nevertheless a document of great importance to historians and anyone else seeking to understand the period. If you follow the reasoning of this cabal of American literati, I assume they think it should never have been published.

    The Trump White House is in no way comparable to Nazi Germany, but I can imagine that future historians will benefit from the insights and recollections of its participants , in much the same way as we benefit from Speer’s.

    1. I look forward to reading “Inside the Trump Reich,” by Kellyanne Conway. I want to know the truth behind the Bowling Green Massacre!

      1. HAHAHAH! I’d totally forgotten about the Bowling Green Massacre! hahaha
        Goodness – there’s so much to want to forget about the last 4 years even if we shouldn’t forget it.
        Even not writing books – what are these toadies, moral whores and enablers going to DO now? Kelly Anne, for instance….?

        Thank our lucky stars what turned out to be a toss-up election (could have EASILY gone the other way) came out OK in the end. Phew. And remember those who fought against the result. Burn the name “Ted Cruz” into the part of your brain responsible for revenge.

        Enjoy tomorrow, I sure will and I have the Champaign in the fridge already!


    2. I imagine there is far more similarities to the Nazis from the Left – banning Free Speech, burning books they don’t agree with, controlling what information the people are allowed to see, cleansing a segment of the population (at least expressing the desire), putting that segment of people in camps (re-education camps in the Left’s case). Pretty sad that so many aren’t concerned where this is going.

  18. I’m not sure it means anything, but I noted that at least 13 of the 15 signatories that Jerry listed are female.

    1. Females are known to be – on average – more conformist than males. For the same reason, as we commented recently, they tend to obtain better grades at exams (other things equal).

      1. “Females are . . . more conformist than males. For the same reason . . . they tend to obtain better grades at exams (other things equal).”

        Is this true of, say, math (and chemistry and physics)?

        1. In my country, this is true for every single discipline except sport until the end of high school.
          Then males move ahaid in math and physics. In chemistry, not.

    2. “He [Winston] disliked nearly all women, and especially the young and pretty ones. It was always the women, and above all the young ones, who were the most bigoted adherents of the Party, the swallowers of slogans, the amateur spies and nosers-out of unorthodoxy.” – George Orwell (1984)

      I blame evolution 😐

  19. Ditto to other comments critical of the letter. Don’t publish and be damned.

    To which can be added two cents of what-aboutery. Are the signatories aware that caging illegal immigrant children began under Obama?

  20. If I’m a publisher I’m looking at this list of signatories for any employees of mine. I would then sit them down and ask them straight up what it is they think they’re doing here. That is, what does it mean to be a publisher?

    If their answer is “publish books I either don’t care about, or if I do, I agree with,” then I’d tell them “We’re going to publish book by people you agree with, and by people you disagree with. We’re going to publish books by people you respect, and by people you find loathsome. If you can’t live with this, you need to resign, because we are not going to make our publication decisions based on what you find objectionable.”

  21. It could be the publishers are doing us a service although not by design. 10 years down the track it might be more interesting to hear/ read what went on.
    What more is there to know about the orange guy that’s going to make any difference… he rolled through town, burnt some down, erected walls in more ways than one and retreated grudgingly to somewhere to maintain his insanity.
    Are we done yet!

  22. The goal appears to be to prevent the “objectionable” right from expressing their opinion anywhere.

    No books, No Twitter. No Facebook. No Podcasts. Google and Apple say no access on you smart phone. Amazon says no creating your own alternatives. Paypal says no payments to them. Boycott Goya because they support Trump.

    75 million voters are completely justified to believe there is a conspiracy against them. The only major outlet left for them is Fox News and, of course, all virtuous people are supposed to boycott their advertisers.

    Here is the Associated Press advocating the removal of Podcasts.

    “Major social platforms have been cracking down on the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories in the leadup to the presidential election, and expanded their efforts in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. But Apple and Google, among others, have left open a major loophole for this material: Podcasts.”

    1. If it’s a conspiracy against “the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories in the leadup to the presidential election”, I’m there. Sounds good to me.

  23. Agreed Jerry!

    The manifesto is wrong for the reasons you articulate very well. But also, I have seen in various forums that this type of censorship and overreach has the “other side” feeling “see, this is EXACTLY what Trump warned of and which we were afraid of. Viewpoints outside the Leftist narrative will no longer be tolerated!”

    1. I think the “other side” is quite right here. 2-3 years ago, Yahoo!News – my major source for international news, as well as most other news sources I visited, allowed comments. Now, the only major English-speaking news source known to me that still allows comments is good old Daily Mail.

        1. Vaal,
          I write for 2-3 new sites and comments are a big headache for editors: they have to employ people to curate them. Mine do, but they complain all the time. 🙂
          You’re right: even The Atlantic quit comments a few years ago and the comments editor wrote an article about his time there. Horror. A terrible job.

          Just look at the youtube comments (on Jerry’s talks alone) for examples.
          Even a classic music clip’s comment list can become unhinged crazy rants after a little while.

  24. If I were in the publishing industry, particularly in Canada or Mexico, I’d view this as an opportunity to make an inroad into the American publishing market.
    Now, I’m not particularly bothered about the “Murika Thirst” sloganeers, but if I were in this business, I’d be circling, vulture-like, to swoop like a good little unprincipled capitalist.
    There’s definitely too many interviews with Trump supporters on the News – their attitudes are like tinnitus.

    1. The recurrent feature articles one found in liberal publications like the NYT after Trump’s 2016 victory, in which reporters ventured from coast into the nation’s interior to interview Trump supporters, became known in the trade as “Cletus safaris.”

      So I guess the syndrome you identify might be called “Cletus tinnitus” (which, come to think of it, would be a good name for a Roman emperor or a thrash-metal band).

    2. If you try to publish a physical book by an author that holds political views I oppose, I might exert pressure on the paper wholesalers and ink manufacturers to prevent them from selling to you. I might also, in congress with other large publishing firms, refuse to allow sales of my books to any bookseller who might choose to carry your products.

      1. You’d be cutting the throat of your industry. Unless, of course, you have customs officials standing by searching all incoming traffic for undesirable literature, flame throwers in hand and “Montag” written across their jacket’s shoulders.
        You’d do wonders for the PR and “reputation management” industries though. At your cost.

  25. What is it going to take for reasonable people on the Left to realise that they’re on the wrong side of a battle for the future? It is still astonishing to me that anyone of sense voted for Biden. Now we begin to see a horrifying abyss opening up. Many will say ‘Oh, they’re just private opinions’. What do you think a climate of opinion looks like? Why do you think these people will draw the line at physical persecution of political opponents?

    1. What is it going to take for reasonable people on the Right to realise that every thing you promote always seems to be framed as a battle? Your way or the highway.

  26. Remember the “Don’t Buy Books from Crooks” campaign?

    “A group of 19 people led by carpet cleaner Tom Flanigan and restaurateur Bill Boleyn gathered money and produced t-shirts, bumper stickers, and buttons with the slogan “Don’t Buy Books By Crooks”. The campaign’s newspaper ads were turned down by the New York Times and the Washington Post, but they did get media attention, including their shirt being seen on Saturday Night Live (wiki).”

    It did make a really nice poster!

  27. Bloomberg reneged publishing a book on Delhi riots when interceded by the left in the form of Darlymple and by the Islam in the form of a man refused visa to India.

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