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Publisher Peretz Blasts New Leadership of New Republic

Thursday, 14 Feb 2013 12:28 PM

By Lisa Barron

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Writing in a Wall Street Journal piece called “The New New Republic,” publisher Martin Peretz says he no longer recognizes the magazine he used to own.

Referring to the most recent issue of The New Republic, Peretz, who was editor-in-chief from 1974 until 2011, writes: “The stark white cover was unlike anything The New Republic ran during my 35 years as the owner. Having read the cover story, I still don’t recognize the magazine that I sold in 2012 to the Facebook zillionaire Chris Hughes.”

What made the “Original Sin” issue unrecognizable, Peretz contends, is that “it established as fact what had only been suggested by the magazine in the early days of its new administration: The New Republic has abandoned its liberal but heterodox tradition and embraced a leftist outlook as predictable as that of Mother Jones or the Nation."

In the cover article, subtitled “Why the GOP is and will continue to be the party of white people,” Sam Tanenhaus, editor of The New York Times Book Review, asserts that “the GOP is in jeopardy, the gravest since 1964, of ceasing to be a national party.”

“The provocative theme would not have been unthinkable in the magazine’s 99-year-history,” states Peretz, “but the essay’s reliance on insinuations of GOP racism (“the inimical ‘they’ were being targeted by a spurious campaign to pass voter-identification laws, a throwback to Jim Crow”) and gross oversimplifications hardly reflected the intellectual traditions of a journal of ideas.”

Peretz maintains that Hughes, who ran Barack Obama’s social media operation during the 2008 presidential campaign, had assured him of open-mindedness in running the magazine.

Yet in the first issue of the relaunched periodical, notes Peretz, Hughes and Franklin Foer, newly restored to his former position as editor, interviewed the president. “I had never thought of doing an interview with the president, any president, in The New Republic,” he writes. “The magazine wasn’t supposed to be a White House siphon.”

Peretz also chastised what “appears to be little interest in foreign affairs.” Under Peretz’s leadership, The New Republic was staunchly pro-Israel.

As for the decision to stop publishing editorials in the magazine, he says, “maybe editorials are no longer needed, given the articles themselves.”

“There are prevailing orthodoxies, but they aren’t recognized as such. Mr. Obama himself is the main one,” he adds.

Peretz has done little to hide his disappointment with Hughes’ former boss, telling The New York Times Magazine recently, “I’m not sure I feel betrayed, but it’s close. . . . Our first African-American president has done less to fight AIDS in Africa than George Bush; he’s done nothing on human rights.”

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