George News: The Political Magazine with a Twist #georgeNews

In September 1995, George News, a glossy monthly magazine with a unique theme centered on politics-as-lifestyle, made its debut in New York City. Founded by John F. Kennedy Jr. and Michael J. Berman, and published by Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., George News aimed to revolutionize political publications and make them more appealing to the general public.

The magazine’s tagline, “Not Just Politics As Usual,” aptly captured its mission to merge celebrity and media with the subject of politics. The editorial team, led by creative director Matt Berman (no relation to co-founder Michael Berman), sought to create a magazine that followed the template of popular publications such as Rolling Stone, Esquire, or Vanity Fair, but with a political twist.

George News was not your typical political magazine. Rather than catering to people in or around the political world, the magazine targeted a wider audience with features on politics, celebrities, fashion, and lifestyle. The goal was to present political news and discourse in a way that would interest readers who might not otherwise engage with politics.

The magazine’s debut cover featuring Cindy Crawford dressed as George Washington photographed by Herb Ritts made waves and set the tone for the magazine’s approach. George News continued to push boundaries, attracting notable contributors such as Paul Begala, George Clooney, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Naomi Wolf, among others.

Despite initially attracting a great deal of interest and boasting the largest circulation of any political magazine in the nation, George News began to struggle financially. To boost sales, Kennedy and the editorial team occasionally courted controversy, as in the 1997 issue where Kennedy lambasted his cousins Michael Kennedy and Joe Kennedy II for their marital scandals. However, critics labeled the magazine as “the political magazine for people who don’t understand politics,” stripping any discussion of political issues from its coverage.

In its final issue, Spy magazine published a scathing profile of George News, asserting that the magazine’s premise was flawed because politics overlapped with pop culture in such a limited number of ways. The profile further described the magazine as “scrambling for celebrities ‘with tits’ as often as possible to put on the cover and then trying to figure out what that person had to do with politics.”

Today, George News is a relic of the past, with its last issue published in 2001. Despite its shortcomings, the magazine left a lasting legacy as a bold attempt to make politics more accessible to the general public. Its innovative approach paved the way for other publications to explore new avenues of political coverage, and its founders’ legacy continues to inspire new generations of media entrepreneurs.

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