The announcement late last week by top staffers at The New Republic (TNR) magazine that they were resigning to protest its “new direction” was met with rejoicing on the Right and consternation and anger on the Left.
In his subscription newsletter, Gary North called it “great news,” noting that the magazine had “always been a mouthpiece of the American left.” Wrote North:
The disappearance of The New Republic is part of a trend. Part of the trend is the shift from printed to digital communications. The Left has not made the transition. The other part is the shift away from traditional American liberalism.
On the Left, establishment journalist Dana Milbank, a graduate of Yale University (where he was a member of Skull and Bones), and later the author of a polemic biography of Glenn Beck, took it personally. He attacked TNR’s new owner, Chris Hughes, calling him “a dilettante and a fraud.” He explained the reason for the mass exodus:
Hughes ousted his intellectual partner [top editor Franklin] Foer without even the courtesy of telling him; Foer found out when his replacement ... began announcing himself as the new editor….
Most of the staff quit in protest, and the Hughes management team suspended publication until February. They needn’t bother resuming at all. The New Republic is dead; Chris Hughes killed it.
On November 7, the staff celebrated the magazine’s 100th birthday. TNR has been a small but highly influential — and frequently controversial — voice for radical progressivism dating back to the days of Woodrow Wilson. Over the decades it has been predictably at odds with traditional American values, most recently in its support of universal healthcare and same-sex marriage. It supported the Clinton presidency in most of its views and endorsed Senator Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) in his run for the presidency in 2004. Longtime owner and publisher of TNR Martin Peretz summed up his magazine’s position tellingly in 2006 with this:
The New Republic is very much against the Bush tax programs, against Bush Social Security “reform”, against cutting the inheritance tax, for radical health care changes, passionate about Gore-type environmentalism, for a woman's entitlement to an abortion, for gay marriage, for an increase in the minimum wage, for pursuing aggressively alternatives to our present reliance on oil and our present tax preferences for gas-guzzling automobiles. We were against the confirmation of [Bush-appointed Supreme Court] Justice Alito.
Dating back to the early 1900s, the magazine was internationalist and totalitarian to its core. In 1917 it urged the United States, then a "non-interventionist" republic, to join the Allies in their involvement in “the war to end all wars,” World War I. Following the communist takeover of Russia in 1917, the magazine supported the new Soviet Union and its butcher of a leader, Joseph Stalin.
So closely did the staff work in propagandizing for the Soviet regime that one of the magazine’s editors, Michael Whitney Straight, was later found to have been a spy for the Soviet KGB along with Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Kim Philby, and Anthony Blunt.
In 1974, upon being purchased by Peretz, the magazine ramped up its internationalist military interventionist policy in the Middle East under which the United States continues to suffer to this day.
Peretz was also present and accounted for during what the New York Times called “the greatest scandal in the magazine’s history [which] marked a decade of waning influence and mounting financial losses”: the Stephen Glass plagiarism scandal. For years, Glass’s two editors overlooked or simply ignored his rampant and continuing plagiarism of at least 27 of the 41 articles he wrote for the magazine. So egregious were his actions that they became the basis for a 2003 film entitled Shattered Glass after Vanity Fair exposed it in 1998.
Both rejoicers and grievers are wrong. This is neither the end of the magazine’s long run at influencing the elite nor a change in policy, but merely recognition of the new reality of communications by one who knows. Hughes, a roommate of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg while attending Harvard University, became Facebook’s public spokesman and amassed great wealth — estimated at some $700 million — in the process. In responding to both, Hughes wrote in the Washington Post:
I didn’t buy the New Republic [in 2012] to be the conservator of a small print magazine whose long-term influence and survival were at risk. I came to protect the future of the New Republic by creating a sustainable business so that our journalism, values and voice — the things that make us singular — could survive....
Its voice and values have been important for a century, and technology should be used not to transform it but to develop and amplify its influence....
I have spent the last two-and-a-half years supporting an institution whose mission I believe in and investing millions of dollars into its singular journalism so that it can continue to be influential and important....
The vast majority of our staff remains. They are eager and excited to build a sustainable and strong New Republic that can endure … this 100-year-old story is worth fighting for.
Hughes lives the life that The New Republic has been promoting over those 100 years. He married his male partner, Sean Eldridge, in 2011. Eldridge is the political director of an outfit called Freedom to Marry, which promotes LGBT equality and seeks to end the Defense of Marriage Act.
He worked hard to elect Barack Obama in 2008, running the campaign’s MyBarackObama.com social networking site. He was invited to speak at the Bilderberg Conference held in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in 2011. And he serves on the 17-member board of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, an effort aimed at preventing the spread of AIDS among homosexuals.
Far from disappearing from the liberal scene, The New Republic will reappear in February in a new format, promoting the same old tired internationalist and amoral programs that continue to plague the Republic. As Mark Twain once said, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
A graduate of an Ivy League school and a former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at www.LightFromTheRight.com, primarily on economics and politics.