Peretz on New New Republic: 'I Don't Recognize Magazine I Used to Own. We Were Liberal But Not Narrowly Partisan'

February 14th, 2013 4:16 PM

Martin Peretz, the former owner and editor of the New Republic, has come down strongly on the new iteration of the magazine he first purchased in 1974.

So shocked by the content since Facebook's Chris Hughes took over is Peretz that he published a piece at the Wall Street Journal Thursday titled "The New New Republic: I don't recognize the magazine I used to own. We were liberal but not narrowly partisan":

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.

Peretz then offered a history of the magazine following his purchase of it in 1974:

We put out a magazine that was intellectually daring, I like to think, and politically controversial.

We were for the Contras in Nicaragua; wary of affirmative action; for military intervention in Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur; alarmed about the decline of the family. The New Republic was also an early proponent of gay rights. We were neoliberals. We were also Zionists, and it was our defense of the Jewish state that put us outside the comfort zone of modern progressive politics.

When Mr. Hughes took over the magazine, he gave himself the title editor in chief (as I did) and restored Franklin Foer to his former position as editor. For the first issue of the relaunched magazine last month, the two interviewed President Obama. In the interview, the president complained about the media being insufficiently supportive of the Democratic agenda and insufficiently critical of "obstructionist" Republicans—even as Mr. Obama was sitting for another friendly interview with a liberal periodical.

I had never thought of doing an interview with the president, any president, in the New Republic. The magazine wasn't supposed to be a White House siphon. The big media transmit Mr. Obama's views to the public every day, twice and three times a day.

Peretz concluded, "The president [Obama] is an object of fealty at the New Republic in a way that Woodrow Wilson and even Franklin Roosevelt never were."


For those unfamiliar with Peretz, he is clearly left of center but not dogmatically liberal.

In October 2009, he accused Obama of being "a clinical narcissist."

A year earlier, he chastised liberals for believing Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were innocent and for holding communist despots such as Che Guevara and Fidel Castro in high regard.

Now he's coming down on the magazine he used to own for becoming too partisan.

The journalism industry - with news outlets overtly acting as shills for the current president and his party - desperately needs more such honesty especially from folks on the left.

Bravo, Martin! Bravo!

(HT NB member Gary Hall)