St. Louis Post-Dispatch will no longer publish George Will’s twice-weekly columns.
The final straw was Will’s June 5 column. “The column was offensive and inaccurate; we apologize for publishing it,” editorial page editor Tony Messenger wrote.
The column, “Colleges become the victims of progressivism,” said that sexual assault “victimhood” has become “a coveted status that confers privileges” on college campuses.
Will said that there was “the soft censorship of trigger warnings to swaddle students in a ‘safe,’ ‘supportive,’ ‘unthreatening’ environment, intellectual comfort for the intellectually dormant.”
The Post-Dispatch’s Messenger noted that the newspaper’s “change has been under consideration for several months.”
Messenger told the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple the editor’s note apologizing for Will’s column was so the newspaper could have “thoughtful analysis.”
Messenger said that the paper doesn’t “edit our syndicated columns” but could have opted against publishing it and didn’t realize the column’s impact.
“Part of it is just the reality of the news business these days. Nothing gets as much of a look as it used to. That’s our reality and we have to live with that. That’s why it was important to include ‘We apologize’ in that note because we didn’t want readers to think that we were shirking our responsibility,” he told Wemple.
The Post-Dispatch is replacing Will’s columns with those by Michael Gerson.
iMediaEthics asked Messenger how readers responded to the decision and if he’s heard from Will about the decision. Messenger pointed iMediaEthics to his comments to Jim Romenesko, in which he said he received “in the range of 250 emails and I’ve gone through about 40 voice mails and have a bunch more now.” Messenger said the majority of the response from readers has been “in favor of our decision.”
Will responded to the decision in an interview with C-SPAN, the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple reported. Will said, “They know how to propitiate the rabble,” and commented that readers were so upset about his column because:
“Indignation is the default position of certain people in civic discourse. They go from a standing start to fury in about 30 seconds.”
See Will’s interview below:
Mediaite noted that the Washington Post, which also publishes Will’s work, is “standing by Will for now.” The Washington Post‘s editorial page editor said in a statement to Media Matters that the column was “well within the bounds of legitimate debate.”
“I welcomed his contribution, as I welcome the discussion it sparked and the responses, some of which we will be publishing on our pages and website,” Fred Hiatt said.
iMediaEthics has written to Will for further comment.