In a Publisher’s Lunch report published yesterday, Harper’s editor James Marcus claimed that he had been fired from the magazine for opposing Katie Roiphe’s boring #MeToo cover story — an allegation that left people wanting more details. Today, wishes were granted. In a new piece in the New York Times, Marcus elaborates on what allegedly happened behind the scenes at Harper’s leading up to his termination, and who he found himself up against.
In January, rumors started to circulate that Harper’s would be publishing a story in which Roiphe planned to name the creator of the Shitty Men in Media list. Later that month, though, Moira Donegan outed herself in an essay for the Cut, which received an extraordinarily positive reception.
According to Marcus, Harper’s decision to run Roiphe’s piece can be traced back to publisher John R. MacArthur, who wanted the magazine to “run a contrarian piece on #MeToo movement.” Marcus opposed this story, for which he allegedly faced retaliation.
“The editorial process was breaking down,” Marcus continued. “It’s Rick’s magazine, but usually the publisher does not intercede during the editing process. The piece was widely disliked by the entire staff, but I want to stress that they worked with absolute professionalism on it, whatever they thought of it.”
MacArthur wasn’t the only person who didn’t see eye-to-eye with Marcus. Giulia Melucci, Harper’s vice-president of public relations who assigned the piece, told the Times that she had to make the assignment “because the editor didn’t have ideas,” which Marcus challenged. She also vocalized her inability to comprehend why Marcus objected to the piece (which was, again, poorly received).
“I don’t know why,” she told the Times. “Maybe because it was a good story? It was the most successful story we’ve had in a couple years. He may have been against it, but it was good for the magazine.”