Simon & Schuster says it has decided not to publish a forthcoming book by Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, citing the lawmaker’s role in fomenting this week’s “disturbing [and] deadly insurrection” at the U.S. Capitol.
Hawley quickly fired back at the publisher, calling the move “Orwellian” and an “assault on the First Amendment.”
In a statement issued via tweet Thursday evening, Simon & Schuster said it was canceling publication of the book, The Tyranny of Big Tech, following Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol by supporters of President Trump who aimed to upend the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Nov. 3 election victory.
Hawley, a Republican and outspoken Trump ally, has been accused of helping incite the throng of rioters who stormed the House and Senate chambers, smashing windows, ransacking offices and forcing frightened lawmakers to take shelter in secure locations. Hawley was also one of six senators who raised objections to the certification of Electoral College votes confirming Joe Biden as the next president.
“We did not come to this decision lightly,” Simon & Schuster said.
“As publisher, it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints,” the announcement read. “[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 to our democracy and freedom.”
Hawley — who was photographed early Wednesday afternoon offering a raised fist in apparent solidarity with the crowd that would later attack the houses of Congress — responded on Twitter to the decision by “the woke mob @simonschuster.” He threatened legal action and accused the publisher of quashing free speech.
“This could not be more Orwellian,” Hawley wrote. “I was representing my constituents, leading a debate on the Senate floor on voter integrity, which they have now decided to rebrand as sedition.”
“Only approved speech can now be published,” he added. “This is the Left looking to cancel everyone they don’t approve of. I will fight this cancel culture with everything I have. We’ll see you in court.”
Simon & Schuster’s decision comes as former Missouri Republican Sen. John Danforth, commenting in the wake of the assault on the Capitol, described his recruitment of Hawley to run for the U.S. Senate in 2018 as “the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my life.”
“I thought he was special. And I did my best to encourage people to support him,” Danforth said Thursday.
The senator who represented Missouri for nearly two decades until 1995 said if it had not been for Hawley’s key role in objecting to the Electoral College votes, Wednesday’s chaos “wouldn’t have happened.”
“But for him the approval of the Electoral College votes would have been simply a formality,” Danforth said. “He made it into something that it was a specific way to express the view that the election was stolen. He was responsible.”
Hawley’s office did not immediately respond to Danforth’s charges, but in a more general statement, the senator said he would “never apologize for giving voice to the millions of Missourians and Americans who have concerns about the integrity of our elections. That’s my job, and I will keep doing it.”