Our first thought upon glancing at the latest New Republic cover was that new editor-in-chief, Facebook founder and marriage equality activist Chris Hughes was cribbing from Tina Brown‘s playbook. It has all the elements of a latter day Newsweek cover: A royal, buzzy photoshop, canny packaging. (Duchess Kate Middleton is more symbol than subject, as Britain’s royal family is not mentioned in the editorial package.)
But it appears the inspiration may actually have been one of Ms. Brown’s chief gadflies, the late Spy magazine. Gawker’s Adrian Chen pointed us to a very similar Spy cover from December 1993. Like TNR, Spy advertised a cover package about the end of the British empire (“U.K. Decay” vs. “Something’s Rotten”) by giving the country’s most photogenic leader a patriotic dental makeover. (Also, note the coincidental cover line touting a piece on Ms. Brown’s New Yorker.)
It’s an uncharacteristically cheeky treatment from TNR, but it may be a sign of a new era at the magazine. With the online paywall torn down, is the magazine angling for more newsstand sales? Can we look forward to more visual hijinks from the buttoned-up beltway thought leader?
New Republic art director Joe Heroun declined to comment.