The venerable New Republic turned 100 this year, and despite its ups-and-downs over the decades (such as being virtually pro-Soviet for a time in the late 1940s under the Communist editor and KGB agent Michael Straight), it was an important publication for thoughtful liberalism. It does not appear the magazine will make it to its 101st birthday, at least not in any recognizable form that a serious person will ever want to read.
The remaining glory of The New Republic ended today, with the firing of talented editor Franklin Foer and long-time literary editor Leon Wieseltier. More purging of TNR’s editorial ranks is likely to happen before the week is out. It was also announced that the magazine will move to New York.
Jonathan Chait offers a “eulogy” for the magazine today in New York magazine:
Frank Foer isn’t leaving TNR because he wasn’t a good enough editor. He’s leaving because Chris Hughes is not a good enough owner.
Frank is also not the only person leaving TNR. Leon Wieseltier, the magazine’s literary editor for more than three decades, departs as well, and I expect many others will follow them (as I would, if I still worked there). . .
Hughes and [new editor Guy] Vidra are afflicted with the belief that they can copy the formula that transformed the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed into economic successes, which is probably wrong, and that this formula can be applied to The New Republic, which is certainly wrong.
Several weeks ago, Vidra communicated the new vision to the staff in what I am told was an uncomfortable stream of business clichés ungrounded in any apparent strategy other than saying things like “let’s break shit” and “we’re a tech company now.” His memo to the staff predictably uses terms like “straddle generation” and “brand.” It promises to make TNR “a vertically integrated digital media company,” possibly unaware that “vertically integrated” is an actual business concept, not a term for a media company that integrates verticals.
Hughes and Vidra have provided no reason at all for anybody to believe they have a plausible plan to modernize The New Republic. If they did, Frank Foer would still be editor. My only hope now is that one day this vital American institution can be rebuilt.
Dylan Byers has more at Politico.
I think this is another sign of the bankruptcy of liberalism heading toward 2016.