Subsequent to our brief note from Monday that Harper’s Magazine editor James Marcus has left the publication, Marcus tells PL that he was fired on Friday afternoon, for “opposing the publication of Katie Roiphe’s cover story in the March issue.” The article, “The Other Whisper Network: How Twitter feminism is bad for women,” drew criticism online in January before it was published, over suggestions that Roiphe intended to reveal the identity of the creator of the “Sh—y Media Men” list. That controversy led to the list’s creator Moira Donegan identifying herself in her own article for The Cut.
Marcus gave us this account: “All I can say for the moment is that Katie Roiphe’s article was assigned over my objections by Rick MacArthur, the magazine’s publisher. I nonetheless worked very hard on the piece, as did the rest of the editorial staff. I had hoped that despite our differences, Rick and I could agree to disagree and move on. He could not. When I was fired on Friday afternoon, it was clear that the dispute over Roiphe’s article was the main cause.”
Harper’s vice president, public relations Giulia Melucci wrote to us that, “For the record, it was I who assigned that piece, not Rick MacArthur.” She added, “As to the reasons for James’s firing, it is not our policy to discuss such matters with the press.” In further reply, Marcus notes “Giulia knew Katie socially and reached out to her. By herself, she didn’t have the authority to assign or edit anything: she’s a publicist. So it was Rick’s call.” He added, “Either way, let’s just say it was an unconventional editorial process.”
Marcus was promoted to serve as the magazine’s top editor since June 2016, taking over after Christopher Cox was fired after only three months in the position. He joined Harper’s in 2010 as deputy editor and was later promoted to executive editor.