Columnist For The Guardian Says He Was Fired After Tweeting Joke About ‘US Military Aid To Israel’

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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The Guardian columnist Nathan Robinson said Wednesday on Twitter that he was fired from the publication after he “joked about U.S. military aid to Israel on social media.”

The tweet surrounding his apparent firing, according to Robinson, was a comment where he quipped: “Did you know that the US Congress is not actually permitted to authorize any new spending unless a portion of it is directed toward buying weapons for Israel? It’s the law.” Robinson noted in a follow-up tweet that his comment was “not actually the written law,” he wrote in an article published by Current Affairs.

Robinson said that after his tweet, editor-in-chief for the Guardian US, John Mulholland, emailed him with a subject line stating the information was “private and confidential.” The email, which Robinson provided in his Current Affairs article, began with Mulholland stating that Robinson “partly present[s]” himself as a columnist for the publication and that he was emailing to “express” his “concern” regarding the tweet.

“Given the reckless talk over he last year – and beyond – of how mythical ‘Jewish groups/alliances’ yield power over all forms of US public life I am not clear how this is helpful to public discourse,” Mulholland wrote according to Robinson. “And I am not sure why singling out financial aid to Israel in a tweet and devoid of any context – and without mention of aid to other countries either currently or historically  – is a useful addition to public discourse.”

Robinson said he deleted the tweet and apologized, but over the next few weeks began hearing less and less from the Guardian. Eventually, he wrote that his editor called on Tuesday and said following conversations with Mulholland, his column would no longer continue.

“On Tuesday, my editor called me and told me that after a conversation with Mulholland, it had been decided to discontinue my column altogether,” Robinson wrote. “I asked if it was possible for me to talk with Mulholland and work something out. My editor said it was not, and that Mulholland had indicated the paper would not work with me in the future either, meaning that I should not even bother to send occasional freelance pitches.”

“There was no effort to offer any criticism of my performance; in fact, the editor indicated directly that my pitches would have been accepted if Mulholland had not been displeased with my tweet. It was made very, very clear to me: your tweet about Israel annoyed the editor in chief. Now you are fired. Do not come back,” he continued.

A spokesperson for the Guardian pushed back on the assertion that Robinson was “fired,” writing that he “was neither a staff employee nor on contract,” according to a statement provided to Reason. (RELATED: NYT Reporter Originally Given ‘Another Chance’ Forced Out After Co-Workers Express Outrage To Managers)

“Nathan Robinson has written regularly for Guardian US but was neither a staff employee nor on contract. It is not true therefore that he was ‘fired,'” the spokesperson said according to Reason. “As we enter a new political era, we believe it’s important to publish diverse and original voices in our opinion pages. We continually review the range of regular columnists we publish and we would welcome further contributions from him in the future.”

“The Guardian supports its columnists to express a variety of perspectives on all topics, which are published on the site every day. Mr Robinson recognised that the tweets in question were ill-considered and it was his decision alone to delete them,” the statement continued.

Robinson, who is currently the editor of Current Affairs, was listed as “a Guardian US columnist” on the Guardian’s website, he wrote on Twitter after learning of the publication’s statement.

“The editor in chief told me, in writing, that I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone that he was policing my tweets because officially I was ‘free to speak,'” Robinson also wrote. “He tried to ‘confidentially’ patrol my public speech. But I am not going to keep something like that silent.”