David Remnick has been editor of The New Yorker Magazine since 1998. The New Yorker has a long and storied history in American culture, appealing in the main to sophisticated readers, by no means only New Yorkers, with eclectic literary appetites. The magazine has always covered current events, but only in rather a random and circumscribed way. Its attractions have been its ecumenisms, its breath rather than its depth, its forays into fiction and poetry, along with its columnists, commentaries, and countless cartoons.
Remnick fits the template. A gifted writer and editor, he is difficult to pigeonhole. His main claim to authorial fame is his first book, published in 1993, the Pulitzer Prize winning, Lenin’s Tomb – the Last Days of the Soviet Empire. But since then he seems to have taken pleasure and pride in writing about far-flung subjects – a biography of Muhammed Ali here, an article about the Bolshoi Ballet there – and in editing his wide-ranging magazine. Until now.
Until 2004, The New Yorker, which started as a weekly in 1925, had never even endorsed a presidential candidate. But now, under Remnick’s leadership, The New Yorker has gone all out. Now, under Remnick’s leadership, all semblance of political neutrality is out the window. Now, under Remnick’s leadership, the magazine has declared war on President Donald Trump. Now, under Remnick’s leadership, the magazine is trying its damnedest to bring down the incumbent American president.
Say what you will about Remnick. Decry if you will The New Yorker’s gradual shift, from fine arts to dirty politics. But you cannot accuse its editor of being a Bystander. Quite the contrary. David Remnick has charged headlong into political battle.