James Marcus, former Harper’s Editor, claims that his time with the publication came to a sudden end after he was fired over Katie Roiphe’s essay. Marcus allegedly opposed Roiphe’s #MeToo cover story, which he claims was boring.
The media has been waiting to hear Marcus’ side of the story. He was initially silent before releasing a piece in the New York Times that details his termination and what happened behind the scenes at Harpers.
“I was fired over a principled stand that I took and I am in no way ashamed of it,” he told the New York Times.
Marcus claims that there was a disagreement with his former boss that led to him being fired. He claims that the disagreement was about the March cover story: “The Other Whisper Network: How Twitter feminism is bad for women.” The story was written by Katie Roiphe.
Marcus played the role of an essay editor and described the story as “exceedingly mediocre.”
Harper’s Vice President of Public Relations, Giulia Melucci, claims that Marcus being fired because of the story has “little in common with reality.” She claims that his firing was complicated and the Roiphe story only had a small part in the decision.
Marcus claims that he wasn’t present at the firing, but did have a long conversation with John R. MacArthur, president and publisher of the magazine. The conversation the two had was about Roiphe’s piece.
Harper’s is a long running, nonprofit publication which has struggled to retain a top editor. The publication’s former top editor, Lewis H. Lapham, held his position for 28 years before leaving the company in 2006. Leadership at the publication has been unstable ever since, with three top editors leaving since Lapham’s departure.
Roger Hodge was fired in 2010 from his position as top editor after an argument with Mr. MacArthur. His replacement, Ellen Rosenbush, lasted until 2015 when Christopher Cox took over as top editor. Cox was also fired after three months before Ms. Rosenbush reprised her position for a short while. Marcus was hired in February 2016 and fired in March 2018.
Marcus had been with the company since 2010 before being promoted to the role of top editor.
He claims that the publisher wanted to run the piece despite the entire staff disliking it.
The publisher wanted to run a contrarian piece on the #MeToo movement,” an idea that Marcus didn’t agree with. He claims that the editorial process was breaking down and that the publisher doesn’t normally intercede during the editing process. He claims that the entire staff worked very hard on the piece despite their disagreements.
Melucci also came out against Marcus, claiming that she made the assignment because “the editor didn’t have ideas.” The jab at Marcus is one he denied and claims that he never heard a complaint about his ability to generate story ideas.
Melucci additionally claims that despite Marcus being against the piece, it has been good for the magazine, which has been suffering from declining readership. The story is one of the publication’s most successful stories in years, according to Melucci.