Ms. Hartson’s list was a more direct attack on the policies of her colleagues. The last book she bought was the upcoming Wokenomics: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam. And so, Hachette fired her last month when Ms. Hartson was aiming high with Amazon’s best-selling political book, Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy.
The official reasons for Ms. Hartson’s resignation, as two people who were familiar with her said, were banal. But she told staff that she believed she had been fired for her policies. In a Zoom employee meeting on January 26, Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch and Daisy Hutton, Center Street director, didn’t mention Ms. Hartson. But they assured staff that they had learned the lessons of the January 6th siege of the Capitol: no hate speech, no incitement to violence, no false stories. And they have separately made it clear to both editors and agents that they are turning back to the think tank conservatives and moving away from fire-breathing politicians. (Mrs. Hartson did not respond to questions about her views and her dismissal.)
“The Conservative movement is on the move and the next few years will be an especially rich time to talk about the future of conservatism in America,” said Ms. Hutton, who lives in Nashville and whose background is primarily Christian publishing, said in an e- Mail. “Center Street will continue to publish thoughtful, provocative, vibrant, and informative books that will make a meaningful contribution to shaping this conversation.”
Hachette is hardly the only mainstream publisher to turn away from MAGA books. Simon & Schuster invoked the “morals” clause to cancel the publication of a book by Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, after objecting to the November election results and cheering protests just before the violence broke out. Simon & Schuster, two sources familiar with his plans, will also stop publishing right-wing activist Candace Owens.
Some of these tensions are about freedom of speech. An older generation of publishing directors had long argued that they had a responsibility to publish votes they disagreed with in the context of their function in a democracy. Thomas Spence, president of conservative publisher Regnery, said he viewed the Big Five (soon to be four if Penguin Random House completes acquisition of Simon & Schuster) postponement as “blacklisted form”.