Monday, October 10, 2005


How George begat Jon

In an orgiastic burst of self-promotion, Richard Bradley--the artist formerly known as Richard Blow--describes the epochal effect of George magazine in this Boston Globe Ideas piece. The occasion? Harvard's Kennedy School is sponsoring a forum to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the late John F. Kennedy Jr.'s magazine (where Bradley worked as executive editor). In the alternate universe where Bradley dwells, it was his former employer--not Gore Vidal or Ronald Reagan or, what the hell, the average American watching Bill Clinton play tenor sax on the Arsenio Hall show--who first noted the convergence of politics and pop culture in this country. Bradley writes:
In fact, though it could not survive John Kennedy's death, George endured for six years, longer than the vast majority of start-up magazines, with a circulation averaging 450,000. Reaching such a broad audience had always been the goal of Kennedy and cofounder Michael Berman, who lamented the fact that, while most Americans cared about politics, they shunned the wonky, inside-the-Beltway punditry published in The New Republic or National Review. And even though George never won over the kingmakers of political journalism, it's clear in retrospect that the magazine profoundly influenced how the American media covers politics.
It's that first sentence that gives away the whole game. George was entirely dependent on Kennedy's charisma and connections. When those disappeared, so did the magazine, and quickly. I have no interest in speaking ill of the magazine or its creator. But Bradley, who violated a non-disclosure agreement to write a hagiographic portrait of his boss after Kennedy died, is really reaching here. Did George invent The Daily Show? Only in the sense that Al Gore invented the Internet. (Please note: I didn't make single comical pun on Bradley's old name. For that, you'll have to read this old Gawker dispatch.)

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