…by the fact that the guy who took over TNR, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, told Peretz he planned to do one thing with the magazine and has actually done another.
Surprised, Martin? Why?
I can’t read the full Peretz article at the WSJ because it’s behind a pay firewall, but Volokh has some liberal (ha ha) quotes from it [emphasis mine]. Peretz writes:
[The most recent issue of TNR has] 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.
That was hardly the fate I expected for the magazine. Yes, Mr. Hughes had run Barack Obama’s highly successful social-media operation during the 2008 presidential campaign, so a certain Democratic affinity was to be expected. But his assurances of open-mindedness in running the magazine inspired confidence. . . .
There is something strange about Chris Hughes’s journalistic vision. He has said in public and to me that he intended for the magazine no longer to be known as a liberal journal, for it not to take up only one side of an issue. Fair enough. An earnest expression of this sentiment is the fact that the magazine has stopped publishing editorials.
But maybe editorials are no longer needed, given the articles themselves. The magazine now seems to live in a space where those “little insurrections of the mind” are unwelcome. It is akin to the atmosphere in many colleges and universities: There are prevailing orthodoxies but they aren’t recognized as such. Mr. Obama himself is the main one. The president is an object of fealty at the New Republic in a way that Woodrow Wilson and even Franklin Roosevelt never were.
Welcome to the reality you’ve apparently been denying for years, Mr. Peretz. You thought you were creating an organ for the sort of fair, thoughtful, open-minded left that questions authority whether it comes from left or right, and that it could endure that way? That proves that you never understood the left at all, although you were part of it.
And you apparently never understood Barack Obama, either, or most of his hired hands, if you trusted them to do what they say they will.
Of course, this may all be some sort of reaction by Peretz to losing his fiefdom and seeing it taken over and steered in a new direction. It may, in other words, be more personal than principled. But although ego may have a bit to do with it, I think his surprise and anger about the larger issue is sincere, as well. Peretz’s sort of liberalism, including his support of Israel, has become increasingly out of date, and he may just be beginning to realize it.