Idea, a high-concept literary magazine that was scheduled to launch next week, instead finds itself another victim, collateral damage of the behavioral transgressions of its own intended editor-in-chief.
Leon Wieseltier, the high-profile former editor of The New Republic, was to have edited the high-concept literary magazine, backed by philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve Jobs, through her Emerson Collective.
However, in the wake of revelations about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s long history of sexual harassment and alleged rapes, Wieseltier was accused of inappropriate actions towards female colleagues in the past, including sexual harassment.
Former colleagues from The New Republic accused Wieseltier of nonconsensual kisses and unwanted sexual advances, among other behaviors. Wieseltier’s name also appeared on an anonymously circulated spreadsheet, naming men in the media industry who were considered notorious (in certain circles) for their inappropriate behavior toward women.
Wieseltier subsequently apologized for unspecified trespasses against female colleagues: “For my offenses against some of my colleagues in the past, I offer a shaken apology and ask for their forgiveness. The women with whom I worked are smart and good people. I am ashamed to know that I made any of them feel demeaned and disrespected. I assure them that I will not waste this reckoning.”
The Emerson Collective stated that Idea is shutting down following the accusations against its celebrated editor, famed almost as much for his shock of white hair as his intellect. “Upon receiving information related to past inappropriate workplace conduct, Emerson Collective ended its business relationship with Leon Wieseltier, including a journal planned for publication under his editorial direction. The production and distribution of the journal has been suspended.”
In December 2014, Wieseltier led an exodus of employees leaving The New Republic in protest against decisions made by its new owner, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, including a planned emphasis on digital distribution. Hughes subsequently sold the magazine.