Chris Hughes is bailing on the New Republic, having run out of new ways to fuck it up
Just four years after buying the New Republic, driving out most of its staff and ripping out its guts to turn the century old magazine into a “vertically integrated digital media company,” Chris Hughes is bailing.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Hughes believes he’s done all he can - ho ho ho - with the magazine, having spent $20m (4% of his net worth) trying to turn it into something truly disruptive. To put Hughes’ commitment to the magazine in perspective, in the same period, Hughes and his husband have reportedly spent more than $12m buying homes in New York.
Says Hughes, without a hint of self-awareness: “Although I do not have the silver bullet, a new owner should have the vision and commitment to carry on the traditions that make this place unique and give it a new mandate for a new century.”
Hughes once pledged that the magazine would become profitable by 2015. He rolled back the promise shortly afterwards.
To understand why Hughes was never going to succeed at the New Republic, it’s worth re-reading Sarah’s piece about media ownership and conflict from this time last year. Or, of course, Lloyd Grove’s take-down of Hughes in the Daily Beast. Alternatively, just remember that Hughes’ first act of editorial interference was to shitcan Steven Brill’s tremendous Bitter Pill cover story to make way for an interview with Obama, written by… Chris Hughes. Bitter Pill ended up published by Time magazine instead, becoming by far its most popular cover story in recent years.
Hughes himself offers a slightly different, and thoroughly asinine, explanation for his failure…
“The New York Times, The Atlantic, and other traditional outlets seem to have found business models that work for them. I hope that this institution will one day be part of that list. To get there, The New Republic needs a new vision that only a new owner can bring,” he said.
And what kind of owner might that be?
A person familiar with the matter said the 32-year-old Mr. Hughes had already begun preliminary talks with a variety of potential buyers, including larger media companies, digital startups and philanthropic groups.
Oh, God, he means Pierre, doesn’t he? Of course he means Pierre.
Fuck it, why the hell not at this point?