Visiting Dignitaries

Facebook Cofounder Chris Hughes Lives Out Powerball Fantasies of Literature PhDs Everywhere

You'd chuck the tenure track and buy a magazine, too.
Mr. Hughes. (photo via

Mr. Hughes. (photo via

New York has just published a lengthy profile of Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes, and it confirms what we’ve long suspected: This young man has the chutzpah of a well-capitalized comp lit major. After serving as PR interlocutor for Zuck and helping Barack Obama on his path to the presidency, Mr. Hughes is now plowing that Facebook fortune into the ailing New Republic.

But New York suggests that before he settled on his current property, the most literary of the Facebook mafiosos asked around about a different outlet. Buried in the profile is this tiny tidbit:

For Hughes, the advantage of trying to fix journalism by fixing The New Republic is that, in addition to its good breeding, it’s always been small and will remain small: He wasn’t taking the helm of a grand, listing superliner like, say, Newsweek. (Though, a source says, he did ask around first about buying The New York Review of Books, which isn’t for sale and is, actually, profitable.)

Oh, the hubris of the Harvard-educated. “May I rescue your weekly?” “No, thank you, we’re doing just fine!” But if the choice for newly-minted millionaires is shopping for super yachts or venerable literary outlets, we’d chose the latter too.

And now that he owns the New Republic, guess what he wants to turn it into? “He was going to re-create the magazine as something like The New York Review of Books meets The Economist, he told these people.”

But despite any discreet inquiries Mr. Hughes might have made, there doesn’t seem to be any weirdness, judging by this bit of scene setting from the New York Times‘ profile of Mr. Hughes, from back in May:

The evening was his debut in New York’s clubby literary society. Robert Silvers, the longtime editor of The New York Review of Books being honored that night, offered Mr. Hughes a warm hello.

Can’t hurt to keep the old lines of communication open–especially not with ominous clouds brewing on the horizon.

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