The New Republic Tackles Its ‘Perceived Legacy of Racism’ in First Issue Since Mass Shakeup

“The New Republic owes an accounting to itself, its critics and its readers,” Jeet Heer writes in upcoming cover story

In its first issue since 50 plus staffers resigned in protest in December, The New Republic takes on itself and a “perceived legacy of racism” at the magazine.

In a 4,000 word cover story written by Canadian journalist Jeet Heer, the magazine addresses years of criticism of its stance on race.

In the piece, obtained by Politico, Heer notes the gap between TNR’s liberalism and hostility African American readers feel.

“How do we reconcile the magazine’s liberalism, the ideology that animated the Civil Rights revolution, with the fact that many black readers have long seen—and still see—the magazine as inimical and at times outright hostile to their concerns?” he writes in his piece.

Heer directly takes on the magazine he is writing for, noting how few black staff members have been hired at TNR in its 100-year history.

“How could a magazine which published much excellent on-the-ground reporting on the unforgivable sins visited upon black America by white America—lynchings, legal frame-ups, political disenfranchisement and more—also give credence to toxic and damaging racial theorizing, as recently as the 1990’s?” Heer continues. “And why has The New Republic had only a handful of black editorial staff members in over a hundred years?”

New Republic

Although the column doesn’t address by name some of its critics, it’s clearly responding to one in particular: The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates, who in the aftermath of the mass staffer exodus in December, wrote a piece calling out TNR’s history of racism.

“For most of its modern history, TNR has been an entirely white publication, which published stories confirming white people’s worst instincts,” Coates wrote.

Heer’s cover story leads the first issue of TNR after over 50 staffers resigned in December in protest of owner Chris Hughes’ vision for the magazine. Former editors told TheWrap Hughes didn’t care about the legacy of the magazine.

“The New Republic didn’t die this week; it died when Chris Hughes bought the magazine,” former assistant editor James Kirchick told TheWrap after the magazine’s shakeup, adding that Hughes had to brush up on the magazine’s history upon purchasing it.

“People who really love the New Republic, know what it’s about, and why it’s special, and value it — we don’t need to go to the fucking New York Public Library to pull the archive off the shelf and educate ourselves about the importance of the magazine. He did. That was very telling to me.”

The full article will appear in the February edition of The New Republic.