Less than three years ago, when Charles Lane ascended to the editorship of the New Republic, Washington City Paper editor David Carr wrote that Lane had won the job after spending years with his lips firmly attached to owner Marty Peretz's posterior. Tuesday Lane became unstuck, as Peretz, surely one of the magazine industry's cruelest autocrats, canned yet another editor.
Lane's exit, technically a resignation, couldn't have been more coldly managed. Over the last week, he was apparently the proverbial last to know, as heir-designate Peter Beinart made the rounds of the capital's media circles. While Lane remained blissfully unaware of the ax dangling over his head, Beinart told old New Republic hands that he was going to be the magazine's new editor and tried to lure them back into Peretz's warm and fuzzy fold. Lane finally got the bad news on Tuesday.
He's merely the latest of Peretz's victims. Lane himself replaced Michael Kelly, widely assumed to have gotten the ax (after less than a year in the position) for insufficient acknowledgement of the incomparability of Al Gore. Kelly came in after Andrew Sullivan, the provocative gay Briton who had attempted to de-wonkify the magazine, was dumped in a flurry of bad publicity in 1996.
Ironically enough, Kelly was back in the news himself this week as part of another high-end journo paroxysm, the sale of the Atlantic Monthly and the deposing of its editor, William Whitworth. The Atlantic was sold by Mortimer Zuckerman, owner of U.S. News & World Report and the New York Daily News, to David Bradley, who already owned the National Journal, the small-circulation but influential Capitol Hill weekly. After leaving the New Republic, Kelly became the editor of the Journal. He will be the new editor of the Atlantic and will oversee editorial operations at the Journal as well.