Hijacking TNR

Magazine’s new owner intimately involved in editorial decisions

• July 9, 2012 11:31 am


Insiders at the New Republic say that the magazine’s new owner, wealthy socialite Christopher Hughes, has hijacked the editorial process and created tension by firing the magazine’s respected editor-in-chief, the Washington Post reported in a recent profile of Hughes.

The 2,000-word report corroborates a June Free Beacon report in which insiders discussed similar concerns about Hughes’ invasive oversight.

"Despite the generally warm reception for Hughes, his tenure has thus far produced one unsettling development, at least within the magazine’s corridors. Staffers were shocked in May when Hughes fired [Richard] Just as editor and replaced him with Franklin Foer, who had been TNR’s editor from 2006 to 2010," the paper reports.

Just first recommended that Hughes purchase the struggling magazine and helped broker the deal, according to the report. Soon after the purchase was finalized, however, Hughes fired Just.

The move came as a shock to TNR insiders, the Post reports:

Timothy Noah, a senior editor, calls Just’s firing "weird" in light of his role in bringing Hughes in. "I was very dismayed to see Richard fired," says Noah, "and I was very happy to see Frank hired. The net result was perfect neutrality."

Another writer, who asked not to be identified, called the change "totally jarring." He notes "there was some sense that things were not going well between Chris and Richard. There was head-butting over covers. Chris was taking more interest in the day-to-day [editing] than Richard was comfortable with. I think Richard was very surprised that he’s no longer at the helm."

Another staff member analyzed the firing this way: "I think Chris felt like Richard wasn’t thinking big enough or aggressive enough about the future of the magazine. . . . It didn’t help that their personalities didn’t mesh."

The comment suggests the extent of Hughes’s involvement in his new enterprise. Hughes has been a hands-on presence. Staffers say he attends about half of the magazine’s editorial meetings, commuting from his estate in Garrison, N.Y., or his loft in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood.

Others, however, have praised Hughes for moving the magazine in a new direction, one that breaks with its well-established pro-Israel bent. One left-leaning media critic hailed a recent TNR article that painted Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as a "visionary."