The New Republic Owner Chris Hughes on Purchase of Magazine: ‘I F–cked Up’

Facebook co-founder mused on his descent from hero to Antichrist during the publication’s messy implosion

The New Republic owner Chris Hughes has finally opened up about his fall from “knight in shining armor” to “Antichrist, or something pretty close to it” after his quest to rescue the storied magazine soured along with his golden boy status.

In Vanity Fair’s July issue, the former tech mogul indicated that The New Republic staff resisted change and balked at filing stories to the web. He described a fearful East Coast mentality versus a more technologically creative West Coast.

But he knows he handled things badly. “I fucked up,” he said to a colleague as publication began to implode.

Hughes was hailed as a hero when he acquired the financially-strapped magazine in 2012, promising to nurture its intellectual bona fides. But his hiring of former Yahoo exec Guy Vidra as unpopular CEO followed by the ouster of admired editor Franklin Foer combined with Hughes’ apparent cooling enthusiasm for his new asset ended with the crippling defection of several dozen editorial staffers along with reams of nasty press coverage

Vanity Fair writer Sarah Ellison said in the story that when she told Hughes reporters had denied to her they were afraid of change and insisted that they had been willing to file for the Web, “he cut me off. ‘Stop right there — that’s the problem … Anyone who said that, that really means: I really want to write for print, but if the Web editor is annoying enough, then I’ll fire off a blog post once a week. That can’t be our starting point.’”