Martin Peretz, who sold the New Republic to Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, says he can't recognize the magazine anymore because it has "abandoned its liberal but heterodox tradition and embraced a leftist outlook as predictable as that of Mother Jones or the Nation."
In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Peretz, the editor in chief from 1974 to 2011, criticized a provocative cover story about racism in the Republican Party that accompanied its recent redesign. He said the story contained "gross oversimplifications [that] hardly reflected the intellectual traditions of a journal of ideas."
"That was hardly the fate I expected for the magazine," he wrote.
He noted Hughes's role as a social media director for President Obama's 2008 campaign.
"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, Peretz wrote. "But his assurances of open-mindedness in running the magazine inspired confidence."
Peretz owned the magazine until 2007, when he sold it to Canada's CanWest Global Communications. That firm sold the New Republic to Hughes in March 2012.
Peretz touted the magazine's progressive but independent editorial stance under his tenure. He noted that it upset some on the left in its support of Zionism and on the right for its stance on gay rights.
But the New Republic's recent interview with Obama, he said, distracted the magazine from its core mission, and turned it into a mouthpiece for the administration.
"I had never thought of doing an interview with the president, any president, in the New Republic," Peretz wrote. "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. "
While Hughes did away with the New Republic's editorial page, Peretz said the articles now reflected its views.
The New Republic did not immediately respond to requests from TheWrap for a response.