The Fall of The New Republic?
December 4, 2014 4:12 PM   Subscribe

Today, The New Republic's editor-in-chief Franklin Foer and literary editor (and thirty-year veteran of the magazine) Leon Wieseltier both resigned in a shake-up that also includes moving the magazine to New York from Washington and reducing its number of print issues from 20 to 10 per year. Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker reports that "the top editors are gone & mass resignations are imminent." The impetus for the resignations, according to Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine, is apparently that Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder who purchased the magazine in 2012 at age 28, and Guy Vidra, its new CEO, "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."

As Foer wrote earlier this year, the magazine founded in 1914 in Teddy Roosevelt's living room "was born wearing an idealistic face. It soon gathered all the enthusiasm for reform and gave it coherence and intellectual heft. The editors would help craft a new notion of American government, one that now goes by a very familiar name: liberalism."

Chait provides additional background on the business-speak-packed meeting that may have prompted the resignations:
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.
Reactions to today's resignations have varied from "please immediately remove me from your masthead as a Contributing Editor" (Lizza) and
"please remove me from your contributing editors" (Chait) to "Time to cancel the subscription" (New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker) to "So for Chris Hughes, 100 years of The New Republic was apparently enough" (Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic) to "White Men Upset Wrong White Man Placed in Charge of White-Man Magazine" (Gawker, which the new editor-in-chief of TNR, Gabe Snyder, once edited) to:
Sorry whenever journos lose jobs, but some of us colored folk will always remember @tnr with mixed feelings. In all seriousness, I understand people who worked at TNR feeling sad, it's human and understandable.. . . When @tnr wrote about felt like someone talking about you as though you weren't in the room--because you literally weren't. . . . When you run cover stories questioning the intelligence of 40 million people, because of their skin color, some among them tend to remember.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (individual tweets linked at the end of each sentence).
posted by sallybrown (143 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
It will be interesting to see what happens with TNR.
posted by flippant at 4:15 PM on December 4, 2014


Conservative magazine rankled by mildly innovative scheme to prevent closure.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:22 PM on December 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


"are afflicted with the belief that they can copy the formula that transformed the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed into economic successes,

Reminds me of what Tina Brown tried to do with Newsweek and Daily Beast. It didn't work, but I guess all ended well, as Newsweek once again offers a print copy.
posted by Nevin at 4:26 PM on December 4, 2014


I look forward to the demise of an awful Conservative rag with shitty writers long past their due date continuing on high commissions to cover booze and bride orders. I give credit to this young band of (probably equally awful) Conservatives who succeeded in 1. Convincing the owners to sell; 2. Forcing through a business plan so preposterous they can get away with paying very little severance; 3. Are willing to bet that a bundle of words that make up the title will bring people to a new website backed by people who would throw tossers out on the street and shake up the establishment. Probably going to be an awful website. But damn, it makes you proud to be an American when people effect tranformational change like that.
posted by parmanparman at 4:32 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


My allergy to business-speak is such that sitting in through a meeting like the one Chait describes is enough to send me running. Although "straddle generation" sounds somewhat...exciting.

I also wonder at the self-confidence (ego? foolishness?) Hughes must have to think it's advisable to purchase and run a century-old magazine at age 28.
posted by sallybrown at 4:33 PM on December 4, 2014


I look forward to the day when the magazine rights are bought and The New Republic is reborn as the tourism magazine for East Timor
posted by parmanparman at 4:36 PM on December 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


an awful Conservative rag

TNR is an awful Liberal rag, not a Conservative one. Maybe you guys are thinking of The National Review.
posted by briank at 4:40 PM on December 4, 2014 [11 favorites]


Jonathan Cohn, who is at TNR is good. And no conservative. Chait was there before, too. Also not a conservative.
posted by persona au gratin at 4:41 PM on December 4, 2014


I also like Rebecca Traister's work. Hope she stays visible, whether at TNR or not.
posted by sallybrown at 4:43 PM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


I wonder if Hughes is going to bring back The New Republic for Kids.
posted by Flashman at 4:46 PM on December 4, 2014


Remember when TNR devoted a whole issue to The Bell Curve? Awesome!!!

I only started paying attention in the 90s, but TNR has always seemed the definition of neoliberal.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 4:46 PM on December 4, 2014 [12 favorites]


So this isn't a Star Wars Expanded Universe reference?
posted by JARED!!! at 4:53 PM on December 4, 2014 [18 favorites]


> TNR is an awful Liberal rag, ...

From the 100th Birthday article:
introducing the several previous editors in attendance (Michael Kinsley, Charles Lane, and a dazed and amused Andrew Sullivan),
It went Neo-Con in the 80s, in order to maintain some access while Reagan was in office, and though I haven't followed it closely, I don't think it's come that far back. To call it Liberal is wildly incorrect.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:53 PM on December 4, 2014 [18 favorites]


.
posted by shivohum at 4:55 PM on December 4, 2014


Exactly. I would accept they are not deeply conservative but I would characterise it as a conservative magazine.
posted by parmanparman at 4:59 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I too thought it was a very liberal magazine. Can someone clarify with facts?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:59 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Chris people, TNR is a liberal rag. Know something before you shit on it.
posted by xmutex at 5:02 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I too thought it was a very liberal magazine. Can someone clarify with facts?

Slightly to the left of most Democrats. Conservative by MeFi standards. Radical lefties by Fox standards
posted by tyllwin at 5:03 PM on December 4, 2014 [28 favorites]


"Even The New Republic" is a standing joke for a reason — the magazine's deliberately cultivated but paper-thin veneer of liberalism. As explained by FAIR in 2004:
Once TNR, along with The Nation, was indeed a leading journal of left opinion. But when Martin Peretz, a Harvard instructor best known for his outspoken pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian views, purchased it in 1974 with money from his wife's inheritance, the magazine's politics swung unmistakably rightward [...] TNR 's decisive departure from the left is old news, perhaps best illustrated by its editorial support for every major U.S. military intervention in the last two decades [...]

Hertzberg, a former TNR editor, balks at the characterization of TNR as a progressive journal. In February 2003 he told the New York Observer (2/24/03): "The old 'even The New Republic ...' scam was getting a little old in the 1980s; now it's a quarter of a century old." And as far back as 1990, former TNR editor Michael Kinsley admitted that the magazine was basically "centrist" (Extra! , 6/90).
posted by RogerB at 5:04 PM on December 4, 2014 [34 favorites]


You know though? I don't even care. If I have to choose sides between boozed up expense account abusing old writers and fresh young business genius who want to transform a dying print magazine into an innovate data corp I know which one I'm picking every damn time, and it doesn't matter one shit to me who is conservative and who is democrat. I'm on the side of journalism, not money, now and forever, or until everyone forgets what that word means, next year.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:04 PM on December 4, 2014 [15 favorites]


Slightly to the left of most Democrats. Conservative by MeFi standards. Radical lefties by Fox standards

It varies by issue. Marty Peretz is quite hawkish, for example, and opposed Obama's nomination and most of his foreign policy to date.
posted by kewb at 5:05 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


TNR hasn't been even remotely liberal for a long time.
posted by octothorpe at 5:06 PM on December 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


They call themselves 'liberal', but it is only recently with the W Bush administration that they began to notice income inequality and other factors as being important. I can't think of a time I looked at the New Republic and saw a left-liberal focus over a long term period.
posted by parmanparman at 5:08 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Marry Peretz is less "hawkish" and more "racist against Palestinians and other Arabs".
posted by PMdixon at 5:09 PM on December 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Anyone who came of age after Marty Peretz bought it would have a hard time characterizing as liberal, unless you were oblivious to the existence of The Nation, Z, MoJo, The Progressive, In These Times, etc., etc.

TNR is liberal in a universe where "triangulation" and "welfare reform" are the cornerstone of Democratic victories over the past twenty years (in other words, in Mickey Kaus' head).
posted by 99_ at 5:10 PM on December 4, 2014 [17 favorites]


So you would continue it so that people who write garbage should get paid? That is idiotic. Journalism is a way of working, but TNR was so trusting of its calling that it was more often than not willing to allow for errors of judgments, allowing in people who could write but did not tell the truth.
posted by parmanparman at 5:12 PM on December 4, 2014


Meanwhile, National Review still puts out birdcage liner on a regular basis...
posted by Renoroc at 5:19 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Talking about conservative versus liberal is the wrong way to conceptualize this change. It is really between Top Stories and Most Recent.
posted by srboisvert at 5:19 PM on December 4, 2014 [24 favorites]


The New Republic was always a magazine of controversy, not interested in being politically correct, and not easily categorizable as either liberal or conservative, though probably slanting center-left.
Things could get heated, as they did—to take a paradigmatic example—when we debated what to say about how the United States should treat Nicaragua’s Sandinista regime. The subsequent lede, titled “The Case for the Contras,” was published in the issue of March 24, 1986. It was an unqualified endorsement of the Reagan administration’s policy of trying to overthrow the Sandinistas by any means necessary, starting with military aid to the Contra guerrillas. The motives it attributed to critics of the Reagan policy were limited to isolationism, defeatism, willful blindness, and selective “scrupulousness” about the sovereignty of “states ruled by pro-Soviet Leninists.”

Considering that those critics included a substantial majority of the staff, one may justly infer that The New Republic’s form of government, like Nicaragua’s, was less than perfectly democratic. But it certainly wasn’t the kind of non-democracy that stifles dissent.

In the very same issue that featured “The Case for the Contras,” the weekly “TRB from Washington” column disdained its arguments as “preposterous,” “fatuous,” and shot through with “deception.” Although the TRB column, like the editorial, was by tradition unsigned, its author at the time, as every alert reader knew, was Michael Kinsley. In other words, the first person to attack the editorial position of The New Republic was the editor of The New Republic, in The New Republic.

But not the last. The following issue (March 31, 1986) carried another strong dissent, by associate editor Jefferson Morley. The issue after that (April 7) contained, along with a second, more nuanced pro-Contra editorial, a second Kinsley TRB column, this one arguing that people like Norman Podhoretz, who had accused Reagan’s critics of being “objectively” pro-Soviet, were guilty of McCarthyism. It also contained a back-page “Diarist” by Martin Peretz, in which Marty rejected the McCarthyism parallel—and acknowledged ruefully that “our view” (i.e., the view expressed in “The Case for the Contras”) “is something my wife and at least one of my children have been disclaiming quite vigorously whenever the topic of Nicaragua has come up lately—certainly when it has come up in my presence.”

The issue after that—dated April 14, 1986—carried several letters to the editors attacking the editorial. One of them, drafted and circulated by me, was a letter from the editors—specifically, from 13 of the then 18 contributing editors: Abraham Brumberg, Robert Coles, Henry Fairlie, Vint Lawrence, R.W.B. Lewis, Mark Crispin Miller, Robert B. Reich, Ronald Steel, Richard L. Strout, Anne Tyler, Michael Walzer, C. Vann Woodward, and, at the time, me.
posted by shivohum at 5:19 PM on December 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


Maybe they can rebrand it as Shitster
posted by trunk muffins at 5:27 PM on December 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


In other words, Hughes is continuing a tradition that goes back nearly 30 years of a largely uncredentialed wealthy owner overruling the strongly held position of his accomplished, professional staff?
posted by 99_ at 5:27 PM on December 4, 2014 [10 favorites]


This reminds me of the time I used the word epistemology in a conversation with a boss. His response was to grab his nut sack and say "Piss on this."
posted by CincyBlues at 5:31 PM on December 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


Debating whether TNR is (or perhaps now we should say was) liberal or conservative when both of those words can mean half a dozen contradictory ideologies apiece is sort of pointless. As much as people like to throw the word "neoliberal" around in these parts, though, it's funny that only one one person has used it to describe TNR so far, since I would say that it did as much as anything to found and define the movement.

Anyway, I can't say I'm too broken up about this, even if Hughes does want to turn it into BuzzFeed for people with master's degrees (isn't that our territory, though?), it's hard to see how it could be any worse.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 5:36 PM on December 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


Don't like the mag?ok...don't read. But the snark here is disgusting and churlish
posted by Postroad at 5:49 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


HOW TO TELL APART THE REPUBLICS ON THE INTERNET

New Republic = Kinda-leftist, we think, maybe, and annoying
Free Republic = Conservative and annoying
posted by Spatch at 5:51 PM on December 4, 2014


I think people are confusing New Republic, a left-leaning news magazine with Free Republic, a right-wing echo chamber for right wing people to chat online.
posted by sopwath at 5:53 PM on December 4, 2014


But the snark here is disgusting and churlish.

Apparently you aren't familiar with the rhetorical stylings of Leon Wieseltier.
posted by 99_ at 5:54 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Who cares where on the left-right spectrum TNR positions itself? Are we lacking in left-wing reading matter? If it follows the HuffPo template it'll likely move left, but that is wholly secondary to its likely move down-market and down-quality.
posted by topynate at 5:58 PM on December 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think people are confusing New Republic, a left-leaning news magazine with Free Republic, a right-wing echo chamber for right wing people to chat online.

There may also be some National Review confusion going on (TNR vs. NR).
posted by sallybrown at 5:58 PM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


So... Palpatine just took over?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:59 PM on December 4, 2014


transformed the Huffington Post

Well, who *wouldn't* want to emulate the trajectory of the Huffington Post?
posted by uosuaq at 6:02 PM on December 4, 2014


Well, who *wouldn't* want to emulate the trajectory of the Huffington Post?

Writers, presumably.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:03 PM on December 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


I don't mind TNR, but I'm pretty sure my social world overlaps with zero of its other readers, so that's probably something. On the other hand, I find The Atlantic, which leaks out into IRL a little more for me, absolutely insufferable, especially since, but not only because, Ta-Nehisi Coates became everyone's touchstone figure of moral righteousness. He's like the Radiohead of liberal internet people who love to discuss racism.
posted by batfish at 6:03 PM on December 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


As God is my witness, I thought...
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:03 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Does that make him wrong?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:05 PM on December 4, 2014 [12 favorites]


I used to love Coates, but the longer he was at the Atlantic, the more of an Atlantic writer he became---at once oversharing and detatched, good at research but weirdly blind to the people he was researching. In fact, I'd say his writing started to wither during the argument over the Atlantic not paying their staff. On an issue that had some pretty clear class and race implications, he sided with his employer, and did some very ugly pulling up of the ladder behind him, along with the sort of bootstraps rhetoric that he would mock coming from anyone else. I don't think his work has ever recovered.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:12 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Once again: TNR had Andrew Sullivan heading it for a while (who did a whole thing on The Bell Curve, as mentioned), endorsed Bush during the Florida recount, endorsed the Contras, and published this cover.

There is a pattern here is all I'm saying.
posted by PMdixon at 6:12 PM on December 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


I like Ta-Nehisi Coates. And Radiohead. But I liked them both before it was cool.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 6:13 PM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Couldn't care less about Radiohead, but as for Coates, "The Case for Reparations" was the best piece of magazine writing I read this year (maybe in a couple years). I also think his Twitter is stellar--funny and thought-provoking.
posted by sallybrown at 6:18 PM on December 4, 2014 [19 favorites]


This is eerily similar to one of the principal plot-lines on The Newsroom right now. Eerily similar. Too bad nobody watches The Newsroom anymore...
posted by parallax at 6:26 PM on December 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Only on MetaFilter would The New Republic's liberal credentials be questioned. Perhaps they should adopt the Amy Goodman business model in order to get better liberal creds.
posted by Nevin at 6:27 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Slightly to the left of most Democrats. Conservative by MeFi standards. Radical lefties by Fox standards

So in other words, like The New York Times or The Washington Post?
posted by zardoz at 6:33 PM on December 4, 2014


It didn't even occur to me until this thread that anyone had considered The New Republic liberal for at least a generation. Andrew Sullivan was the editor for most of the nineties for cripe sake.
posted by octothorpe at 6:36 PM on December 4, 2014 [11 favorites]


It gets even funnier when you consider Andrew Sullivan is a conservative.
posted by phaedon at 6:39 PM on December 4, 2014


Only on MetaFilter would The New Republic's liberal credentials be questioned.

Yeah, all liberals loved The Bell Curve, right?
posted by kmz at 6:44 PM on December 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


New Republic = Kinda-leftist, we think, maybe, and annoying
Free Republic = Conservative and annoying


Old Republic = much maligned but actually surprisingly decent MMO. Also occasionally annoying.
posted by kmz at 6:45 PM on December 4, 2014 [10 favorites]


Does that make him wrong?

No of course not. I don't claim that makes him wrong (although I think he may be wrong).

Couldn't care less about Radiohead, but as for Coates, "The Case for Reparations" was the best piece of magazine writing I read this year (maybe in a couple years). I also think his Twitter is stellar--funny and thought-provoking.

I read that piece and much of the echo when it came out and it is just not compelling to me in the way I took it as being supposed to be. But yours is the better subscribed opinion among people I take be allies, so I dunno... maybe I'm being blind or reactive in some way, but either way I just cannot bring myself to pretend there's something precious about each of his droppings. These tweets, for instance, seem like total nothing to me, yet... predictably, here they are. I'm with you on Radiohead though!
posted by batfish at 6:46 PM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Are people here really intent on kicking the liberal-conservative can around without, say, looking at the Wikipedia entry to see who was editor and what they were behind when? Andrew Sullivan hasn't been with them for eighteen years. (And he was always more of a contrarian and/or attention whore than solidly of any particular political alignment. Read up on his theory about Sarah Palin's last pregnancy, for example, then remind yourself that his subscription-only site is doing quite well.) Crazy, I know, to think that a century-old magazine with several changes of ownership might have different biases at different times, but the evidence is there.

Then again, if dismissing Coates as "the Radiohead of liberal internet people" or writing him off because he failed your single-issue purity test is your thing, then maybe Sullivan is exactly the type of writer that you deserve.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:01 PM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


I haven't read TNC much lately but what I have seems... fatalistic. Like he no longer sees even a utopian solution to shit.
posted by PMdixon at 7:02 PM on December 4, 2014


These tweets, for instance, seem like total nothing to me, yet... predictably, here they are.

He does tweet A LOT so some stuff gets lost - he had a set of tweets the other night questioning how we talk about the Civil War that I thought was illuminating (why refer to it as a tragedy when it ended a centuries-long practice of death and subjugation? because people implicitly value white lives lost in the War over black lives lost in the slave trade and system), and one a couple months ago discussing U.S. Grant, his autobiography, his presidency, and Andrew Johnson that went in an interesting direction. I like the way he is not afraid to delve into something from a perspective different from the norm (albeit not new or even surprising) without doing the whole Gladwell dance of "you thought it was x...but it's THE OPPOSITE OF X."

So, uh, bringing it back to the topic at hand - I find Coates pretty skilled at both "old" and "new" media in a way that could be a model for The New New Republic. Rembert Browne and Mallory Ortberg are even more new media than Coates but still write about issues of value in a way that doesn't make you feel like you're reading the equivalent of empty calories.
posted by sallybrown at 7:03 PM on December 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


(also I like to consider myself fluent in Corp speak and I cannot render a meaning to "vertically integrated digital media company" any more than I can "colorless green ideas sleep furiously." Are they going to sell tablets? Or enslave the writers? WTF is there to integrate?)
posted by PMdixon at 7:12 PM on December 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


The thing got pretty unreadable during the latter Martin Peretz years, but i thought they had been publishing some interesting stuff recently. Shame. Hardly seems to matter whether you'd have called it liberal or conservative in the 1990s --- as of the moment, it's a business model in search of an ideology.
posted by Diablevert at 7:16 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Domestically, TNR has always been all over the place depending who it is editing. Its generally contrarian-liberal, so reads right-wing. Mostly pro-war, and definitely pro-war if the war is against Arabs.

And when that horrible sack of shit named Andrew Sullivan ran the mag, it was way more right wing than it ever was before, in every possible respect: racist, anti-welfare, etc.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:24 PM on December 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


In other words, good fucking riddance.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:25 PM on December 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have long been interested in The New Republic. When I was a teenager it seemed the height of sophistication to me, and in fact when I was sixteen Martin Peretz gave me a free subscription just because I wrote him a letter and asked. I understood it to be a liberal bastion when I first started reading it in the mid-80s, and it was actually big news that a conservative (Andrew Sullivan) was appointed editor. I wasn't so concerned with the magazine's place on the political spectrum ... it had a unique voice that struck me as intelligent and interesting.

When I was in college I was more interested in TNR's literary section. Whatever you may think of Leon Wieseltier, he gave assigned reviewers to works that were demanding and didn't get a lot of attention ... TNR was a place where you would find reviews of things like Harold Brodkey's The Runaway Soul and William Vollmann's Butterfly Stories, or considerations of authors like William Gass or Danilo Kis. It seemed as though almost every issue had reviews of some very serious, interesting literary work. I found Jed Perl's art criticism highly readable.

As I think about those "old days" it occurs to me that I don't really know whether Jed Perl is considered a "good" art critic or not. I know that I enjoyed reading him. In some ways, the New Republic seemed like a throwback to an older model of the man of letters, where one is not so concerned with a journal's political orientation, but rather that it provides you with interesting and provocative material to read. If a journal is reviewing works by Brodkey, Vollmann, and Gass, it is of little moment to me whether I agree with their take on them; it's admirable enough that they take the life of the mind seriously enough to consider those works at all. And in the old days I felt that TNR actually did take the life of the mind seriously, such that its political positions were not really a concern -- it was interesting to read.

If you have ever read some of the more outlandish Stephen Glass pieces, they absolutely read like fiction, but oddly enough they really did fit with the tone of TNR at that time. It was an idiosyncratic, wry tone that I enjoyed.

This news about the gutting of TNR is pretty disheartening, because it pretty much settles what I had suspected for some time, which is that TNR is just a shadow of its old self. I haven't looked at a print issue in years, but I see the link-baity TNR stuff on Facebook. It reminds me of Jaron Lanier's lament in You are Not a Gadget about how big web properties like Facebook tend to eradicate idiosyncrasy and uniqueness in favor of a bland monoculture. The demise of TNR seems like a result of the process Lanier describes.
posted by jayder at 7:30 PM on December 4, 2014 [13 favorites]


Googled "The New Republic NSA" to see if The New Republic had any helpful opinions about what I should think about the NSA.

Got "We Need an In Invasive NSA" and "The NSA Defense the Administration Isn't Using."

A couple years ago TNR asked me to write a piece for them on a subject I'd written a book about. I turned them down mostly because I remembered their eager participation in the "I Can't Believe I'm A Hawk Club."

Membership in which Jonathan Chait has since apologized for.

TNR does have some good book and movie critics. Maybe the new version will be good.

Wonder if the current controversy has anything to do with this link-bait TNR web slideshow that Gawker made fun of.
posted by johngoren at 7:32 PM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Didn't Sullivan leave something like 20 years ago? That's not really proof TNR is conservative.

Slightly to the left of most Democrats. Conservative by MeFi standards. Radical lefties by Fox standards

So in other words, like The New York Times or The Washington Post?


Both are those are to the right of most Democrats, and lazy punching bags for MeFi and Fox, just from different directions. So, no.

questioning how we talk about the Civil War that I thought was illuminating (why refer to it as a tragedy when it ended a centuries-long practice of death and subjugation? because people implicitly value white lives lost in the War over black lives lost in the slave trade and system

I agree that people tend to think of it that way, but seriously doubt that's why people call the Civil War a tragedy or are harboring any denial of how bad slavery was when the say it. People are pretty much conditioned to describe any war that way; horrible, sad, tragic, necessary evil, etc.
posted by spaltavian at 7:48 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


To be clear, I agree with the point behind that: the Civil War was bad, but not as bad as slavery.
posted by spaltavian at 7:51 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd classify TNR as neoliberalcon. I won't miss it.
posted by Auden at 7:53 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


TNR was a place where you would find reviews of things like Harold Brodkey's The Runaway Soul and William Vollmann's Butterfly Stories, or considerations of authors like William Gass or Danilo Kis.

Sorry, but given what an arrogant prig Wieseltier is, I feel like it gives me license to be sharp when saying that Brodkey didn't get a lot of attention is frankly just not credible if you spent even a little time amongst what I'm sure is the exceedingly finite circle of peers Wieseltier would deign to recognize. I feel like we spent the entirety of the eighties waiting for The Runaway Soul to get published so we could stop hearing about it.
posted by 99_ at 8:08 PM on December 4, 2014


This debate over where exactly TNR falls on the ideological spectrum seems rather irrelevant to the larger point of the FPP, which seems to be about whether or not journalism/longform reporting is susceptible to the brogrammer "break shit and disrupt" mentality. Or rather, what are the effects of subjecting journalism to such a mentality on the part of the owners.
posted by modernnomad at 8:14 PM on December 4, 2014 [14 favorites]


The fact that nobody in this thread seems to be able to agree on/nail down what ideology TNR peddled (which indeed was by design) indicates to me that maybe it was time to "break shit," to put it in the words of the smarmy new bosses, whether TNR was a venerable all-holy sacred cow or not.

Andrew Sullivan hasn't been with them for eighteen years. And he was always more of a contrarian and/or attention whore than solidly of any particular political alignment.

Distinction without a difference in his case.
posted by blucevalo at 8:30 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


In some ways, the New Republic seemed like a throwback to an older model of the man of letters, where one is not so concerned with a journal's political orientation, but rather that it provides you with interesting and provocative material to read.

We had similar teenagedoms, I think. The thing is that at some point TNR realized that this was a marketable shtick and made the best of it. Once you get to a place where your marketing pitch is "we are a liberal mag that is contrarian," and you do it enough and you do it consistently, you become "conservative", at least in an establishmentarian sense.

Like at this point, I think that being "provocative"/"contrarian" is a cheap way to gain credibility. Atlantic Monthly will at least write stuff that you won't see very often. But wanting to cut welfare, support the contras, hating Al Gore, and mindlessly supporting the Iraq war was pretty mainstream conservative stuff you could find anywhere... to the point where very, very few people interested in politics and policy read TNR. By 2004 or so, any liberal blogger capable of writing well and thoughtfully managed to put together an audience several times larger than TNR could hope to achieve.
posted by deanc at 8:43 PM on December 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


also I like to consider myself fluent in Corp speak and I cannot render a meaning to "vertically integrated digital media company"

I think it just means "we will own both the production and distribution of content and move towards online-only." I.e. "work for hire at cheap rates just like HuffPo" but it sounds much more impressive.

It was an interesting magazine years ago. Not one I always agreed with, but smarter than most of what I had easy access to in those pre-internet days. Thus,

.
posted by tyllwin at 9:25 PM on December 4, 2014


Or rather, what are the effects of subjecting journalism to such a mentality on the part of the owners.

Even in the days prior to the internet there was always a bit of tension between the editorial side and the biz side in the media/publishing world. So that aspect of the matter is nothing new, imo. Likewise the tendency of owners to tweak and fiddle with ideology and other elements of their publication. (As is their right and obligation, I think.)

What is new is that since the advent of the internet, the ground has shifted to such an extent that it seems as though we have gone right through the province of McLuhan and deep, perhaps irretrievably so, into M.T. Upharsin territory. Imo, independent of ideological persuasion, the more serious issue here is that this represents another inflection in the process of the dumbing-down of our culture. It's hard to make a buck off the bath water, so out with the baby, too.

Despite this tendency, I hold out hope that a viable business model develops in such a way that will allow "serious" publications to successfully carve out their appropriate niche in the new digital world. I think micro-payments are a good candidate for this, but regaining some solid ground for this kind of publication (as well as for music and other arts) will mean changing the current zeitgeist which prevails in the land right now: "Why should I pay when I can get it for free?" Let's hope that that part of our current societal attitude gets turned around before it is too late. I'd hate to live in a world in which it becomes more difficult to find relatively popular material that challenges the mind and nurtures the soul.
posted by CincyBlues at 9:47 PM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'd classify TNR as neoliberalcon.

I'd say it's objectively pro-neoliberalcon.
posted by thelonius at 12:33 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I couldn't care less about the New Republic, but the snark against Radiohead in this thread is disgusting and churlish.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:56 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Ta-Nehisi Coates has never done anything to deserve the insult or indignity of being compared to Radiohead.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:34 AM on December 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


feel like it gives me license to be sharp when saying that Brodkey didn't get a lot of attention is frankly just not credible if you spent even a little time amongst what I'm sure is the exceedingly finite circle of peers Wieseltier would deign to recognize.

that's why I preceded my comment with "whatever you may think about Leon Wieseltier ...

and re: Brodkey: if you grew up where I grew up, you appreciated the attention TNR gave to writers like Brodkey. Even if "everyone" in certain rarefied circles was discussing him, they weren't where I lived.

the vitriol against Wieseltier has been going on forever. there was a huge Vanity Fair takedown of him in the 90s, replete with allegations of cocaine abuse, discussion of why he didn't finish his Oxford PhD, where he sold review copies of books sent to TNR, and various and sundry dissolute habits and crappy behavior.
posted by jayder at 2:49 AM on December 5, 2014


I read that piece and much of the echo when it came out and it is just not compelling to me in the way I took it as being supposed to be. But yours is the better subscribed opinion among people I take be allies, so I dunno...

Coates has successfully auditioned for Matt Yglesias chair of race relations... I mean, how can you be an "editor" at the Atlantic, publisher of such luminaries as David Frum and still live with yourself.
posted by ennui.bz at 4:03 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I agree that people tend to think of it that way, but seriously doubt that's why people call the Civil War a tragedy or are harboring any denial of how bad slavery was when the say it. People are pretty much conditioned to describe any war that way; horrible, sad, tragic, necessary evil, etc.

I think Coates' point is that with WWII, in addition to whatever sentiments of tragedy we express, there is an overwhelming sense that entering the war was right and necessary due to the evils of Nazism. Liberating the concentration camps is celebrated as a deed worthy of the travails of battle. But we don't typically hear the Civil War discussed the same way, even though it ended hundreds of years of slavery. The tragedy of the war is the dominant note, and the celebration that the slaves were freed is remarkably muted.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:10 AM on December 5, 2014 [15 favorites]


If you're far enough left, every magazine is conservative.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:30 AM on December 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


When observing the skeletal remains of an old friend one should observe "A place to read, perchance to think...ah, there's the rub..."
No amount of "he said she said" can displace the contribution TNR made to our intellectual history.
I , for one, just hope any serious writing can replace Jon Stewart as the zeitgeist of a nation's concience.
posted by NoemaSlur at 5:59 AM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


But we don't typically hear the Civil War discussed the same way, even though it ended hundreds of years of slavery. The tragedy of the war is the dominant note, and the celebration that the slaves were freed is remarkably muted.

The U.S. Civil War resulted in 620,000 military deaths and over 1 million dead or wounded, not counting civilian deaths, all of whom were Americans. It was a war that divided families, especially in border states. Of course it's remembered first and foremost as a tragedy. We were eating our own. We do and should celebrate the end of slavery (duh), but it was a good born out of devastating loss felt by everyone. When both winning and losing "sides" of a war are your own, that tends to change the context in which war is remembered.
posted by echocollate at 6:07 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'll miss TNR, mainly for the book reviews and academic articles in the back half. I don't think the political front half has lived up to its august history for some time. Maybe nerdy aspiring academic teenagers don't need these types of magazines anymore, but when I was growing up it was one of the few bridges from mass media to the more insular world of academia, and it opened a lot of doors in the reading I did.

Yeah, Wieseltier was an "arrogant prig," as somebody mentioned above, but I like to think that there's space in America's republic of letters to publish even arrogant prigs. And as infuriating as Wieseltier could be, he curated an excellent selection of academic book reviews, the like of which really doesn't exist in any form any more.
posted by kingoftonga86 at 6:08 AM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


If you're far enough left, every magazine is conservative.

You don't have to be very far left at all to see that TNR has published a lot of indisputably conservative stuff, especially on certain subjects. But I'm pretty sure the reason the Left thinks it's right-wing and the Right thinks it's left is that it's actually what you might call "consciously centrist-contrarian."
posted by atoxyl at 6:23 AM on December 5, 2014


TNR certainly has been heterodox in the past, but since Chris Hughes took over it has been relentlessly mainstream liberal (if that makes sense), and has cheer-leading Obama's and the Democratic Congressional leaders' agendas with few exceptions.

Hughes lavishly financed his husband's Democratic campaign for Congress which is hardly a move for someone who intended to be much out of that mainstream.

My guess is that he's realized that after his husband's loss last month, he was willing to come to terms publicly that owning TNR is not going to make him the second coming of Katherine Graham (media mogul doyen of all Georgetown parlors) and he's now trying to figure out a Plan B for the investment.
posted by MattD at 6:30 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I used to pick up TNR at libraries for Stanley Kauffman's film reviews alone.

You have too many websites built on TNR template, full of opinion journalism on the same topics as everyone else, only now mixing it in with the same stupid Taylor Swift Grammy news or whatever (at Vox today) that a zillion other places have. Ezra Klein is exactly the sort of too-young-to-have-any-wisdom pundit/wonky sort who would've worked for them. I await a new template. I scan through Pulse news and get bored looking at all the same stuff.

Kauffman was unique, though, and if he were around today I hope I could find him on some quiet corner of the web. Not sure about that, though.
posted by raysmj at 7:32 AM on December 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


You have too many websites built on TNR template, full of opinion journalism on the same topics as everyone else,

To my mind, this isn't an indictment of those websites, it's an indictment of TNR-- TNR marketed itself as providing a unique value proposition that was so unusual that it could only appeal to a small niche audience and couldn't even make a profit. But it turned out that what TNR offered wasn't unique at all: not only were there plenty of writers willing to do it online, but the writing was so good and interesting that these writers attracted an audience many times larger, more sustainable, and in some cases more influential than TNR.

Plus, honestly, their unapologetic, mindless support for the Iraq war really did them in. When they made that stance their calling card (along with endorsing Lieberman for the democratic nomination in 2004), there wasn't much worth reading them for. You have to keep your core audience to be contrarian-- people who are going to keep reading you even when they see an occasional article or two that they find a bit off the wall. When you're all-contrarian, all-the-time, people are going to tune out and go elsewhere.
posted by deanc at 8:14 AM on December 5, 2014


That said, I have a soft spot in my heart for TNR for this article on Delaware containing the choice line:
It presents itself as a plucky underdog peopled by a benevolent, public-spirited, entrepreneurial citizenry. In truth, it is a rapacious parasite state with a long history of disloyalty and avarice.
posted by deanc at 8:20 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Literally yesterday I was catching up on TNR's piece on Scott Walker from earlier this year and wondering if maybe TNR had really stepped up their game lately. I guess it was a fluke, but seriously, go read that one, it's great!
posted by naoko at 8:39 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


TNR lost me when they came out staunchly in favor of the Iraq war. Since then, I can't take anything that they say seriously. Even when I agree with one of their columnists, I'm still suspicious.
posted by evil otto at 8:45 AM on December 5, 2014


and re: Brodkey: if you grew up where I grew up, you appreciated the attention TNR gave to writers like Brodkey. Even if "everyone" in certain rarefied circles was discussing him, they weren't where I lived

Well, they weren't where I lived either, but even in the days of the internet, you can't expect Animal Collective to play Bismark. But if you read the NYRB, the NYTBR, LRB and one or two decent quarterlies, I'd say no Brodkey (or Gass or Vollman) news went under-reported. And aside from maybe the costs of the Sunday Times (which was a pretty good deal at newsstand rates until the late 90s), we're talking maybe a $150 a year investment to cover all that. I'm sure when The Runaway Soul was published even the broad-based newsweeklies (Newsweek, Time, etc) reviewed it. I wouldn't give Wieseltier credit as some sort of paragon for avant garde criticism. He repped pretty solidly for conventional wisdom in a fairly definable space -- albeit one that liked to fancy itself head and shoulders above the rabble. I would say he was most useful for tracking what books you need to seem like you had read when attending dinner parties in Georgetown the the UES but not much more.
posted by 99_ at 9:36 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Plus, honestly, their unapologetic, mindless support for the Iraq war really did them in. When they made that stance their calling card (along with endorsing Lieberman for the democratic nomination in 2004), there wasn't much worth reading them for.

People still read that kinda crap online at popular sites. Blogging became more widespread with the warbloggers, after all. Andrew Sullivan still has a big audience too, as far as I know. (Never read him.)
posted by raysmj at 9:58 AM on December 5, 2014


Only difference is, now you have to throw in an article about Taylor Swift or the Kardashian booty. Because.
posted by raysmj at 9:59 AM on December 5, 2014




I always enjoyed the back half of TNR when I was reading it. And 99_, that was pre-Internet. I had no idea that the NYRB, et al, existed. I didn't even know anyone who might have told me about them. There were a lot of lonely intellectuals out in the suburbs those days, and we all have some affection for whichever publication first made us realize that there were others out there who liked to think about things.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:37 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]



The U.S. Civil War resulted in 620,000 military deaths and over 1 million dead or wounded, not counting civilian deaths, all of whom were Americans. It was a war that divided families, especially in border states.


Slavery in the New World resulted in millions of deaths. It divided families. It enriched the lives of a select few by the exploitation of thousands of people. I'm not sure why we start and end counting with the [predominately white] people who died or were hurt or had their families torn apart during the Civil War. That tragedy had been going on long before, and the Civil War brought an end to it.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:51 AM on December 5, 2014 [14 favorites]


And I'm additionally not sure why we include in that total white people who died fighting for a government utterly dedicated to the preservation and expansion of slavery.
posted by burden at 10:56 AM on December 5, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm not sure why we start and end counting with the [predominately white] people who died or were hurt or had their families torn apart during the Civil War.

No one was doing that here, and the point of the comment you're responding to is that people aren't necessarily doing that when they say the war was tragic. I say this as someone who thinks we could have used a dozen more Shermans.
posted by spaltavian at 11:54 AM on December 5, 2014


"And I'm additionally not sure why we include in that total white people who died fighting for a government utterly dedicated to the preservation and expansion of slavery."

should we include the native americans instead?
posted by clavdivs at 1:32 PM on December 5, 2014


used a dozen more Shermans

They would certainly have been useful versus the Confederates' mobile cav. Oh, wait, this isn't reddit....

In any case, I'm not sure what the whole Coates derail is about (in terms of being germane to this post), but as benitol.strauss said, have a bit of compassion for the plight of the isolated intellectuals of yon days before the series of pipes changed everything. There's definitely a much more questionable relevance to the whole concept of a magazine in the modern era, but they certainly served a purpose in the not-too-distant past.

Yes, they were the locus of neoliberalism for a long time. One should not be drubbed for perceiving that neoconservatism was birthed from neoliberalism. The very idea was that one was doing liberalism smarter because liberalism was broken in certain fundamental ways, and that's how we got Bill Clinton and the rest of the DLC and Blue Dogs (isn't Mary Landrieu now the only one left?), not to mention Tony Blair and other Third Way-ers. But there has been an unexpected resurgence of progressivism, partly in response to Bush 43 and the Iraq War, but also Katrina, the financial crisis, and Piketty. Frankly I never expected to see it in my lifetime, but there you have it. This has absolutely been another factor calling into question the very basis of the existence of an outlet like TNR, but I don't think it makes them conservative and it's a bit silly, or myopic, or historically ignorant to argue that.

But the business model. I think it's interesting that Coates comes up as a side topic here, but not The Atlantic itself. If you go back to the 1970s you had Harper's and The Atlantic atop the intellectual heap, and magazines like The New Republic atop the political heap, with TNR's heterodoxy giving it a bit of a cachet that partisan rags like National Review (or even The Nation*) lacked.

Now, Harper's went academic under Lapham's revamp, becoming a lot less like a traditional magazine, and eventually went online-only. The Atlantic actually survived to become a successful digital property that hasn't, for the most part, undermined its print sibling's credibility. The blogs like In Focus (hi kokogiak!) and TNC and spinoffs like The Atlantic Cities have made it more interesting and timely without really turning it into Buzzfeed (yet). Ideally I would hope this is what Hughes & Vidra are hoping to achieve but I'm not sure they've said it quite that way. Still, in a way, it's quite amusing that the crisis here for TNR isn't Stephen Glass and credibility, or ideology, but pandering to the masses, I guess. Still, the cold dead corpse aspect here is that for all its independence, TNR was still a Beltway rag, with all that entails in terms of obeisance to conventional wisdom and centralized power.

* At times it may be argued that the party line of the Nation is the Socialists rather than the Democrats, after all.
posted by dhartung at 1:47 PM on December 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure why we start and end counting with the [predominately white] people who died or were hurt or had their families torn apart during the Civil War.

No one was doing that here, and the point of the comment you're responding to is that people aren't necessarily doing that when they say the war was tragic.

That is exactly what's being done when people talk about the numbers of people dead due to the Civil War. That framing in particular cements the notion of the "tragedy", and the war itself, as being separate from slavery and the hundred-plus years of violence that engendered. We don't talk about the "tragedy" of the Revolutionary War, yet lots of Americans died, lots of Americans were fighting their brothers and fathers and the country they grew up in. The final outcome- freedom for Americans- allows for the expression of the war as a necessary evil or last resort. And to be fair, as shitty as England may have been, they weren't using American citizens in the same way Americans were using slaves.

Coates' point is that, as a black man, he does not see the Civil War as a tragedy, for the same reason. Yet whenever this is brought up, people push back with the numbers of Americans dead in combat, as if to say... what exactly, I'm not really sure. That that the war was horrific, devastating, and brutal can be said of all wars. If the Civil War is uniquely tragic because Americans were waging violence against one another, than surely the end to violence being waged against African Americans* is something to celebrate, as Americans celebrate the end of British rule via the Revolutionary War.

I find Coates' view on things interesting and thought-provoking, even if his point of view is not exactly my own in all cases. But I don't expect it to be since I'm not a black man, and our experiences are going to diverge in some ways. However, he is really, really good at showing his work and making nuanced intellectual arguments. It's especially apparent if you've been reading him for years as I have. I appreciate that he has in the past indicated more empathy (? for lack of a better word) for white slaveholders than Nazis- not to be provocative, but as someone who has thought about themselves as a human being under different scenarios and circumstances. So when he tweets that he has mixed feelings about this news due to some of the ridiculously racist baloney TNR has produced, I think it is relevant. Why mourn a thing that desperately needs to change? Appreciate the good bits, the good and talented writers and thinkers, but understand that some people wrote off The New Republic when it declared that they were stupider than white people based on their skin color.

*Yeah, I know it didn't really end.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:44 PM on December 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think people are confusing New Republic, a left-leaning news magazine with Free Republic.

Having read some of Marty Peretz' editorials, the confusion is understandable.
posted by JackFlash at 3:29 PM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Interesting article (from 2007) about TNR, by Eric Alterman. The core thesis is "Peretz destroyed TNR", but it also gives a good timeline of the different editors it's had through the 80s and 90s. (Spoiler: Andrew Sullivan loses.)
posted by benito.strauss at 3:42 PM on December 5, 2014


Oh, and I forget to include my favorite line from the article:
It is a sad but true fact of American political life that liberals rarely exercise so much influence as when they happen to be endorsing conservative causes, and this temptation has proven consistently irresistible to Peretz and his magazine.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:44 PM on December 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't understand that DeBoer blog entry. are we supposed to know who he is? what does he mean by "obsession" being "performed" by interns?
posted by jayder at 6:11 PM on December 5, 2014


Charles Pierce: The Lingering Death Of The New Republic
posted by homunculus at 6:56 PM on December 5, 2014


This thread is very unreliable about TNR's ideological significance. For an accurate account, I'd recommend this Slate article by a former TNR editor: What We Lost With the Loss of the New Republic

TNR hasn't been even remotely liberal for a long time.

You've got it backwards. TNR used to be more heterodox. Conservatives like Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer used to write for TNR. Andrew Sullivan used to be the editor, and he's some kind of mix of libertarian, conservative, and liberal (he's generally been supportive of Obama). In the last few years, TNR has been much more consistently liberal. When was the last time you read anything in TNR that deviates from "what you'd expect a liberal to say"? Not for a long time.
posted by John Cohen at 10:45 PM on December 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


In the last few years, TNR has been much more consistently liberal.

I finally gave up on them in the Clinton years and never went back. They may have gotten a little more liberal since then, but it's way too late and too little . It's not like they issued any apologies for racist crap that they published in the '80s and '90s.
posted by octothorpe at 4:44 AM on December 6, 2014


Digby: "This week those editors got a taste of what their vaunted modern capitalist America is all about. A baby billionaire product of Wall Street's inexplicable value system bought the place for his own amusement. And then decided, as his CEO has been quoted saying recently, to "break some shit." And so he did.

Fortunately for the people who are no longer employed at TNR, they will all likely end up working somewhere else doing what they do and being successful at it. After all, Washington DC is one of the richest, most thriving cities in the world right now. But a lot of Americans who have suffered this experience are not so lucky --- the death of their company spelled the death of their town and the end of their middle class lifestyles as well. But one can at least hope that some of those editors who were so disdainful of the impulse that led people to take to the streets and protest this ongoing, painful economic dislocation might have a little more empathy now.

After all, it can happen to anyone. Even The Liberal New Republic."
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:51 AM on December 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


thank you for that comment John Cohen.

it's interesting how many people were so eager to swoop into this thread and shit out some ill informed snark about TNR. how do you have such strong feelings about something you clearly don't understand and haven't paid much attention to? that's really odd to me, it's a strange way to live.
posted by jayder at 9:20 AM on December 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't understand that DeBoer blog entry. are we supposed to know who he is?

This kind of performative "why should I be expected to know about this person" thing really doesn't add anything to the conversation. If you don't know who he is, you might try clicking the "about me" link conveniently located at the top of the blog page. Or do a quick search, since you're on the net and all.
posted by Lexica at 9:40 AM on December 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


Most of the snark seems aimed at the fact that the sins of the previous eras were so egregious that several years of being decent don't quite re-estabish the institution as something we should feel a great loss for. It had gotten better in recent years, but this Vox piece makes the point that some of the people resigning in protest were happy to work for despicable Islamophobe Marty Peretz for years. Maybe if this action had occurred under Peretz's watch, the 2014-era TNR would have been worth preserving. Sadly, it didn't.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:50 AM on December 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well judging by this thread it does sound like the TNR brand could use a makeover.
posted by Flashman at 10:32 AM on December 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


and what village is this DeBoer person referring to and what do interns and TNR have to do with it
posted by jayder at 10:33 AM on December 6, 2014


Aw, shit, now I'm really worried about Stalin's cat. What did that little guy ever do to Fredrick deBoer?
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:41 AM on December 6, 2014


lexica: if my comment added nothing, then your response to it certainly added even less. the blog entry was poorly written and didn't make much sense? enlighten me if there's something good there.

Why are you so fixated on the identity of the author and acting as if a post on his blog is some unearthed parchment that we have to pore over? If you disagree with the sentiment, that's fine, but it's not hard to understand what the message is. The bit about interns is a reference to Vidra's plan to monetize, synergize, Gawker-ize the TNR. He's saying that TNR as an institution is worthless, and given its checkered past, he welcomes it being turned into a "vertically integrated" click factory.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:52 AM on December 6, 2014


TNR has been a sack of crap for decades; happy to kick down at non-whites, women, working class people. Joyous advocates for pointless wars, enthusiasts for destroying health care that might help people poorer than them, constant advocates for 'restructuring' of every institution that allowed the middle and working class a chance at a decent life. All with a very special kind of white male smugness. It's not surprising that the hysterical mourning has nearly all been from white male Villagers in good standing.
posted by tavella at 2:34 PM on December 6, 2014


TNR lost me when they came out staunchly in favor of the Iraq war. Since then, I can't take anything that they say seriously. Even when I agree with one of their columnists, I'm still suspicious.

I agree they took the wrong position on that. And if what you want in a magazine is writers who agree with you about everything, then maybe TNR was never for you. But what I care more about is a magazine that's willing to ask: Were We Wrong? And while that article 1 year after the invasion did some on-the-one-hand/on-the-other-hand hedging, TNR's editor-in-chief at the time, Peter Beinart, unequivocally admitted he was wrong to support the war. His book The Good Fight includes an index entry for: "Iraq War, author's mistaken support for."
posted by John Cohen at 3:10 PM on December 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Keep in mind that TNR's willingness to ask bold questions also led it to ask: Black people: maybe they're just stupider than whites?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 3:32 PM on December 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


I was always a bit in awe of the cult of youth that seemed to reign at TNR. Its editors seemed ridiculously.young. I never really understood how someone who has just an educational background, and little work experience, could helm a magazine like that.
posted by jayder at 5:25 PM on December 6, 2014




Now, Harper's went academic under Lapham's revamp, becoming a lot less like a traditional magazine, and eventually went online-only.

Hunh? I've still got a subscription...
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 7:04 PM on December 7, 2014




The New Yorker: Inside the Collapse of The New Republic, by Ryan Lizza
I spent nine years at The New Republic, from 1998 to 2007, before I joined The New Yorker. Franklin Foer is a close friend, and I know almost every individual involved in this story, including Hughes, who last year made me an offer to return to T.N.R. This account is based on internal e-mails, recordings of meetings, contemporaneous notes, and conversations with about two dozen people, most of whom would not speak for attribution. On Sunday night, I interviewed Hughes for forty minutes.
Notorious RBG cancels her subscription! There's a Byron pastiche! Metrics! SV/VC!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:28 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]




TNR was still a Beltway rag, with all that entails in terms of obeisance to conventional wisdom and centralized power.

Yeah, I think the relocation from DC to NYC might be the biggest news here, actually.
posted by torticat at 10:41 PM on December 12, 2014


The Jeet Heer piece is worth reading. TNR really was a piece of shit, the "journal of liberalism" where liberal was define as white men writing fulsomely about other white men, and crapping on women, minorities, and anyone who thought they were worthwhile. The New Yorker should be embarrassed at publishing the Lizza piece. But then, for all that it's of considerably better quality and diverse view, there's a great deal of the same coziness in the New Yorker's DNA.
posted by tavella at 12:21 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Jeet Heer piece is worth reading.

Really? I thought it was worthless. For one thing, it goes from (suggestively) asking "Did Arthur Koestler coerce his wife into suicide?" to, near the end, referring to the "likelihood that Koestler coerced his wife into suicide" -- without a shred of evidence to justify the leap. Sloppy thinking, sloppy writing: like most of the tirades against TNR bashing it for not toeing various PC lines.
posted by shivohum at 10:03 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


uhh, did you completely miss the fact that koestler was an abuser of women and a rapist?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:15 AM on December 14, 2014


"PC" being defined as not being racist misogynist war junkies who slavishly defended abuses of power.
posted by tavella at 1:12 AM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


A Letter from the Editor, Gabriel Snyder
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:39 AM on December 22, 2014


@tanehisicoates: "Worth reading @sullydish's reply to my TNR piece."

Excuse Me, Mr Coates
From the intensity of his rhetoric, you might infer that Ta-Nehisi was writing about National Review, an opponent of civil rights laws, or even about a neo-Confederate rag, as opposed to The New Republic, a longtime champion of the civil rights movement. But it appears he sees no difference. You’d think he were writing about a magazine filled with bigoted white Southerners, as opposed to an overwhelmingly Jewish set of writers and editors engaged in a long and internecine debate about what it means to be liberal. And the racial politics of TNR from the 1970s through the 1990s cannot be understood without grappling with the bitter and intense struggle between Jewish and African-American civil rights activists in the late 1960s and beyond.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:30 PM on December 22, 2014


If you don't see Sullivan as the epitome of the problems of TNR, it's a fair piece.

(If you do, just skip a third of the way down for the Bell Curve bit. He stands by it.)
posted by PMdixon at 2:06 PM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


The cover of the Bell Curve issue...my god.

Sullivan is all what were we supposed to do, just ignore it or just publish a negative review? Um, yes.
posted by sallybrown at 2:12 PM on December 22, 2014


(I've always loved this Bob Herbert column (NYT link) on The Bell Curve, btw, for a good example of how it should have been received at the time.)
posted by sallybrown at 2:14 PM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


@tanehisicoates: "Worth reading @sullydish's reply to my TNR piece."

It doesn't seem like a link to Ta-Nehisi Coates' piece about TNR was ever posted here.

I tried reading the Sullivan response earlier and got irritated by his "we were a liberal magazine therefore we couldn't possibly be racist!" and didn't even bother finishing. He doesn't seem to get that it's not okay to publish pseudoscience just because you also publish rebuttals to pseudoscience. He doesn't seem to understand that when you say "We should air its most controversial argument and expose it to scrutiny and criticism." people will take you at your word. And then they will wonder why, as an editor, you didn't apply even the tiniest bit of scrutiny and criticism of your own to a weakly argued, eugenicist funded book that you devoted a whole issue to.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:01 PM on December 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


Basically all of Sullivan's public acts are compatible with explanations centered around some combination of obsession for his latest shiny thing, a desire to be seen as intellectual, a degree of shallowness and clique-following usually associated with middle school, and/or a complete and utter lack of empathy.
posted by PMdixon at 5:08 PM on December 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the Bob Herbert link, sallybrown. Simple and withering.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:48 PM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sullivan Whitewashes TNR History, Jeet Heer.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:55 PM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sullivan is pretty much the personal embodiment of everything that was wrong with the NR so I'm not shocked that he either can't or won't understand the criticisms made against it.
posted by octothorpe at 7:27 PM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


He doesn't seem to get that it's not okay to publish pseudoscience just because you also publish rebuttals to pseudoscience.

you may not know this, but pseudoscience almost never comes labeled "This is pseudoscience." It requires examination and, y'know, discussion to figure that out.
posted by jayder at 7:12 PM on December 23, 2014


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