George magazine was a glossy monthly magazine that has a politics-as-lifestyle theme. It was founded by Michael J. Berman and John F. Kennedy Jr. Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S published the magazine in New York City, and its first issue came out in September 1995. The magazine had a tagline that goes “Not Just Politics As Usual.” In this article, we are going to know more about the rise and fall of George Magazine.
The first issue of George magazine was released in September 1995. The magazine received positive reviews, and at some point, it had the largest circulation of any political magazine in the United States. However, after some months, George left the format of traditional political publications, whose target audience comprises only the people in or around the political world. George’s main template soon became similar to magazines such as Esquire, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair. They adopted a consistent underlying theme that connects media and celebrity with the subject of politics, in a way that the general audience would see political news and discourse regarding politics more interesting to read. A Times reporter even wrote that the magazine aims to reveal the people behind the scenes and be like the MTV of politics.
The critics of George called it a political magazine for people who do not understand politics. They even attacked it for stripping down the discussion of political issues from its coverage of politics.
However, the magazine soon began losing money, and in order to boost sales, the magazine, along with Kennedy, had to make controversies. In 1997, the magazine released one of their most notorious issues where Kennedy posed in the nude and attacked his cousins Joe Kennedy II and Michael Kennedy, who at that time had marital scandals that recently made the news. Later that year, John F. Kennedy Jr. said that the magazine should not be taken seriously.
Some of George magazine’s most notable contributors were Norman Mailer, Ann Coulter, Kellyann Conway, Rush Limbaugh, George Clooney, Stephen Glass, Chris Matthews, Steve Millner, Naomi Wolf, Jackie Stallon, and W. Thomas Smith Jr.
In 1999, John F. Kennedy Jr. tragically died in a plane crash; Hachette Filipacchi Magazines purchased his portion of the magazine from his estate. They held on to it for over a year and assigned Frank Lalli as the magazine’s editor-in-chief. They continued to publish their peculiar brand of celebrity and politics. However, the magazine experienced falling advertising sales, and in 2001, Hachette Filipacchi Magazines decided to cease the publication of George in 2001, just two years after John F. Kennedy Jr.’s death.
The Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government had a panel discussion in 2005 entitled “Not Just Politics as Usual,” which celebrated the 10th anniversary of the magazine’s first issue. Tom Brokaw moderated the panel, and other journalists attended it.
Today, George magazine is described as ahead of its time when viewing politics as popular culture.