Douthat’s pointless hand-wringing wasn’t enough for Slate’s Jacob Weisberg. He demanded action: “Anybody who didn’t quit TNR today deserves to be fired.” (An hour later, he’d had second thoughts and pleaded irony. I don’t think so.) By Friday afternoon it seemed much of the editorial staff had indeed quit or been fired. Weisberg may think that’s excellent, but I’d like to go further and suggest that he now resign in solidarity from his own job (running digital titles that aim to disrupt the magazine business and make money in a post-print world). Think of the power of that protest! A shot heard round the world.
I don’t deny that the execution of the changes at TNR is a master class in mismanagement. I defer to nobody in my contempt for the office-speak in the CEO’s memo about “re-imagining The New Republic as a vertically integrated digital media company” — about “content” and “platforms” and “brands.” Funny how executives concerned above all with brands should be so careless with the one they bought.
The treatment of Franklin Foer, the widely admired outgoing editor, was shabby in the extreme — though not exactly unprecedented in this or any other industry. (Apparently he heard from outsiders, not from his bosses, that he was being replaced.) I don’t deny that the owner, Chris Hughes, is offensively young and rich. His timing, so soon after the magazine celebrated its 100th birthday, is pitiful. None of this rises to the level of world-historical heartbreak.