One day, historians researching America’s transition to aristocracy will study Hughes’s life story. The North Carolina native went from Andover to Harvard, where he ended up as Mark Zuckerberg’s roommate and thus lucked into the winning numbers in the meritocracy Powerball. Total winnings: some $600 million (the amount fluctuates with Facebook’s stock price). Hughes did not have programming or business skills—it is unclear what skills he has at all—so Zuckerberg made him Facebook’s first press agent. He publicized the revolutionary social network, which does not strike one as particularly hard to do, and parlayed his Facebook experience into a job on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. He was riding a wave he had caught inadvertently by sleeping in the same dorm room as Zuckerberg. Where is the special, two-segment, snark-filled panel on “Melissa Harris-Perry” devoted to Hughes, whiteness, and the nature of membership in the American elite?
That particular episode has not aired because Hughes, like many other liberal arts graduates of our prestigious universities with no particular specialties or experience, decided to go into journalism. His social-media start-up Jumo failed. Thanks to Zuckerberg, however, Hughes could achieve his new career goal by simply buying the New Republic, the close-to-a-century old journal of American liberalism. He installed himself as publisher and editor-in-chief and fired Richard Just, the editor with whom he had brokered the deal, in favor of Franklin Foer, a previous editor who had overseen a steep decline in circulation and was known for his 7,000-word retraction and non-apology apology after the Weekly Standard uncovered that he had been publishing a fabulist. One of Foer’s first acts was to increase the amount of soccer blogging on the magazine’s website.