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Simon & Schuster has pulled out of distributing a proposed book by a Louisville police officer who fired at Breonna Taylor during the deadly raid at her apartment following a social media backlash.
The publisher issued a statement Thursday night addressing Post Hill Press’ plans for a book from Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly titled The Fight for Truth: The Inside Story Behind the Breonna Taylor Tragedy. “Like much of the American public, earlier today Simon & Schuster learned of plans by distribution client Post Hill Press to publish a book by Jonathan Mattingly. We have subsequently decided not to be involved in the distribution of the book,” the statement said.
The news of Mattingly’s book drew fierce criticism Thursday. Phoebe Robinson, 2 Dope Queens star, who also launched her own Tiny Rep book imprint, took to Instagram to criticize the publisher for contradicting the “Black Lives Matter” and “Black Stories Matter” statements shared on its social media channels last year. “Dear @simonandschuster, Fix this mess you’ve made. It’s embarrassing and revolting,” Robinson wrote, sharing photos of the publisher’s tweets.
Kentucky state Rep. Attica Scott, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter that, “People love to profit off of Black pain and tragedy. It sells.” Other authors who spoke out against the publisher included Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner, who tweeted, “Add my name to the list of @simonandschuster authors very disappointed my publisher made a deal to distribute this book. Hoping writers and readers can change their mind.”
Also on Twitter, The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood became embroiled in the controversy after she promoted the work of another author published by Simon & Schuster. The author’s back and forth with users about the issue was full of strident criticism of the publisher. Following Simon & Schuster’s announcement, Atwood tweeted, “So it seems @simonandschuster are no longer distributing that book. Could our lively conversation/mudpieMargaret episode tonite have had anything to do with that? If so, thank you all.”
Mattingly and another officer fired the shots that hit Taylor during a March 13, 2020 narcotics raid on her apartment. Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical worker, died at the scene. No drugs were found in the apartment. Mattingly was shot in the leg by Taylor’s boyfriend. He was recently reprimanded by Louisville’s police chief for a September email that was critical of department leadership and protesters. Two officers who fired their guns during the raid have been dismissed, although Mattingly remains in the department.
According to its website, Tennessee-based Post Hill Press publishes books that have a Christian or conservative angle and its roster of authors includes conservative radio host Dan Bongino and scandal-plagued Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz.
Simon & Schuster has been dogged by controversy in recent times. Earlier this year, the publisher announced that they would cancel the June publication of Senator Josh Hawley’s The Tyranny of Big Tech after the former attorney general of Missouri and Republican senator was accused of helping incite the mob of Trump supporters that resulted in the violent riot that took place on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
In a statement at the time, Simon & Schuster said it “did not come to this decision lightly.” “As a publisher, it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints: 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,” the statement read.
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