Carlson said he turned against Simon & Schuster after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, when the company accused Hawley of contributing to “what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom” to explain why it wasn’t publishing the book. But while Hawley eventually found a new publisher for “The Tyranny of Big Tech,” Carlson says he was contractually obligated to keep writing “The Long Slide” for Simon & Schuster, which also published his best-selling 2019 book, “Ship of Fools,” as part of a two-book deal with the company.
In the introduction to “The Long Slide,” Carlson revealed details of a private Zoom conversation he had with Simon & Schuster’s president, Jonathan Karp, and publisher Dana Canedy, after Hawley’s book deal was canceled. The senator had been widely accused at the time of encouraging the Capitol riot by spreading baseless claims of election fraud.
“I switched tacks and once again asked what Josh Hawley had done wrong. What was his crime?” Carlson wrote. “It’s a business decision, Tucker,” Karp replied, according to the book.
In an interview with the political commentator Dave Rubin this month, Carlson called Karp “dishonest,” “not super smart” and “absolutely awful.” He declared he would never write another book for the publisher, which he said “[hates] me more than they’ve ever hated anybody” and “threatened to sue” Carlson when he said he didn’t want to write the book.
“A company I was working for was doing harm, not just to one person, Josh Hawley, but to our entire system, to the idea of a free country,” Carlson told a Fox News media reporter last month.
Literary agent Esther Newberg told The Washington Post that it’s very unusual for an author to publicly criticize a book publisher using such vitriolic language. And like many others in the publishing world, she defended Simon & Schuster’s leadership. “Jonathan Karp is a very smart publisher,” she said. “For Tucker Carlson of all people to suggest that he’s not smart is beyond the pale.”
But like others in the industry who spoke to The Post, Newberg predicted that mainstream publishers will increasingly face conflicts with authors who represent a conservative movement that continues to embrace denialism about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. Publishers are also facing increasing criticism both externally and from company employees who would rather them not publish such authors. “We’re in a new phase politically,” said a conservative book publisher who spoke on the condition of anonymity to give a candid assessment. “Both sides are so agitated, and so people are much more reactive and a little less committed to the idea that ideas are best if exposed to the light.”
“The Long Slide” was published by Simon & Schuster’s Threshold Edition imprint — essentially a sub-company that caters to conservative audiences. Most of the publishing mega-houses have their own conservative imprints: Penguin Random House has Sentinel, HarperCollins Publishers has Broadside Books and Hachette Book Group has Center Street, which published Donald Trump Jr.'s 2019 book, “Triggered.”
“One of the problems, I think, is when a publisher decides that they’re going to make money publishing things that they don’t agree with but everybody agrees that they deserve to be published. You get into a situation like this,” Newberg said.
Simon & Schuster, which declined to comment on the dispute and has remained strategically silent, has signed several other conservative authors just within Carlson’s circle of co-workers. The company published Fox News host Mark Levin’s book “American Marxism,” which spent nine weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list. And when Fox News host Greg Gutfeld hosted Carlson for a promotional interview late last month, he mentioned that he, too, has a book deal with Simon & Schuster.
“I owe [Karp] a book, so I think actually he’s doing quite well,” Gutfeld said, jokingly. “Tucker, I think you’re being a little hard on the guy.”
(Representatives for Fox News did not return a request for comment on this story.)
During a radio interview last month, Carlson got an assist from Alex Marlow, the Breitbart News editor in chief who had a book published this spring by the same publishing imprint as Carlson. Marlow called Carlson’s book introduction ripping Simon & Schuster “one of the most unbelievable things [he’s] ever read.”
Carlson, 52, told Marlow that he has “the luxury” of criticizing his own publisher at this stage in his career. “All my kids are out of the house,” he said. “If I were 35, and I had 4 kids in private school, which I did when I was 35, I’d be a little more cautious, I think. I get that people are really hamstrung because you have to make a living, and you’re dependent on these awful, stupid people in order to do that. And, so, it’s hard to exercise your freedom of speech. So, I’m just in this hyper-privileged position where I can say whatever the hell I want, and my view is: I’m just going to.”
Marlow, however, said the publisher had been “decent” to him. “I had no issues with Simon & Schuster going through my process,” he said.
Carlson has occasionally given credit to Simon & Schuster for actually releasing the book — which aside from its attacks on the company consists mostly of magazine essays lamenting the decline of free speech. “They come off as craven and dangerous, but they’re still publishing it, so good for them,” he said during a virtual book-signing event last month.