The New Republic Commits Suicide

by Charles C. W. Cooke

This morning, pretty much the entire editorial staff of the New Republic resigned, in protest at the direction in which the magazine was being taken. Courtesy of Ryan Lizza, here the list of those who have left:

It would have been easier to say who is still there.

In the immediate term, the exodus was sparked by the firing of editor, Franklin Foer, which, per the Daily Beast, was not done kindly:

According to informed sources, Hughes and Vidra didn’t bother to inform Foer that he was out of a job. Instead, the editor was placed in the humiliating position of having to phone Hughes to get confirmation after Gawker.com posted an item at 2:35 p.m. reporting the rumor that Bloomberg Media editor Gabriel Snyder, himself a onetime Gawker editor, had been hired as Foer’s replacement. Yes, it’s true, Hughes sheepishly admitted, notwithstanding that he and Vidra had given Foer repeated assurances that his job was safe.  (Hughes and Vidra didn’t respond to voicemail messages seeking comment.)

Still, as has been made clear by a number of media-watchers, the rot is much, much deeper than that. Contrary the reports of some outlets, this does not seem to have been a battle between modernizers and traditionalists, but rather a fight to the death between those who wished to work for a storied magazine and those who wished to be led by a myopic bunch of clowns who are incapable of speaking in anything other than moronic platitudes. Politico’s Dylan Byers reports that the company’s new CEO, Guy Vidra, had a vision for TNR that

was radically different than that of Foer and Wieseltier. In meetings with staff, he spoke of the magazine as though it were a Silicon Valley startup, sources said. He talked about “disruption” and said he wanted to “break shit.” He referred to himself as a “wartime CEO.” At one point, he proposed giving every employee shares in the company, suggesting that he had plans to make it public.

Owner Chris Hughes, meanwhile, had:

decided to stake TNR’s future on Vidra’s vision rather than Foer’s. In an interview with The New York Times last month, Hughes said he no longer even thinks about TNR as a magazine. “Today, I don’t call it a magazine at all. I think we’re a digital media company.”

All told, this is perhaps not surprising. Last year, Timothy Noah told Politico that Hughes had informed students at the Kennedy School that “he’d like to co-brand a chain of cafes called the New Republic.”

Talk about “breaking shit.”

Which is to say that we should not really be too surprised. Magazines go through different eras, and the Hughes Era never looked promising. It is notable, perhaps, that one of the only people who did not walk out today is former Salonista Brian Beutler, a recent hire whose specialty appears to be writing whatever the Establishment Left needs to be written at any given moment and then throwing it at his enemies with gusto. That move, which at the time seemed inexplicable, was in hindsight the key inflection point — the revealing moment at which the long decline that had started with the “I Hate George W. Bush” cover began to accelerate in earnest. Of course the outfit has replaced its accomplished editor with a Gawker type. Of course the place is now being remodeled in the image of people who can keep a straight face while they spew out sub-literate tosh about “straddle generations” and digital experiments. To the evident horror of many of its talented and highly readable staff, this is the direction in which things have been going for a while. Today was merely the denouement.

Suicide, the coroners will say.

The Corner

The one and only.