Obama campaign strategist buys The New Republic

Three years ago almost to the day, Fast Company magazine profiled Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes as the man who made Barack Obama the 44th President of the United States.  Today, Hughes has announced his purchase of the venerable liberal magazine The New Republic and his intention to take over as publisher and editor-in-chief:

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, who left the social network to work on the online arm of Barack Obama’s 2008 White House campaign, has bought a majority stake in The New Republic magazine.

Hughes, 28, who was Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s roommate at Harvard University, announced the move in an online letter to readers of the publication, a nearly century-old bastion of liberal political thought. …

“When few people are investing in media institutions with such bold aims as ‘enlightenment to the problems of the nation,’ I believe we must,” he said.

Hughes, who is assuming the titles of publisher and editor-in-chief, said the Web “has introduced a competitive, and some might argue hostile, landscape for long, in-depth, resource-intensive journalism.

Congratulations to Hughes, who has had an incredible run of success, quite obviously.  The infusion of capital into TNR can’t be a bad thing for a print publication these days, of course.    If he chooses to invest in TNR, well, it’s his money, and God bless.  It’s not as though TNR was an unbiased source of news and analysis, nor did they pretend to be.  They have always been interested in promoting the liberal viewpoint, perhaps not as far Left as The Nation, but both publications have produced serious and interesting journalism regardless.

However, one has to wonder whether that will continue to be the case. For instance, as liberal as Marty Peretz is, he has always been a hawk on Israel.  Will that continue under Hughes, now that he’s replacing Peretz as editor-in-chief?  And while being a majority owner in a magazine is all the practical prerequisite one needs to run the publication, exactly how is Hughes qualified otherwise to run a magazine — and what kind of editorial direction can we expect from someone whose resumé includes building a social network and acting as the online-flack-in-chief for Barack Obama?  I suspect that any inclination that existed at TNR to criticize Obama administration policies will evaporate, although Hughes may still pleasantly surprise us with an independent point of view.

At one time, TNR described itself as “the in-flight magazine of Air Force One.”  Let’s hope it doesn’t take the Davis Guggenheim route towards being the mouthpiece of Air Force One.

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