Cockburn was sad to learn that W. James Antle III, the highly esteemed editor of the American Conservative (TAC), has parted ways with the magazine after little more than a year at the helm. Antle is a terrifically gifted journalist and a dexterous thinker who has contributed many fine pieces to The Spectator in his time.
TAC is one of the best magazines in the world — Cockburn does not make such compliments lightly — and Antle has steered the publication to new heights. It has in recent years flourished into a hugely influential voice on the American right: its influence on Trumpism is unmistakable.
Cockburn, busybody that he is, has asked around to find out what caused Antle’s sudden departure, but TAC staff are being impressively tight-lipped. It’s understood the decision was announced at the end of last week and that Johnny Burtka, the executive director, has stepped in to fill the breech. Otherwise Antle’s departure is shrouded in mystery. It’s rumored there are tensions on TAC’s board over how fully committed the magazine should be towards the Trump agenda. Was Antle insufficiently MAGA — or KAG, as they say in 2020? Cockburn wonders.
After Antle was hired as editor in 2018, TAC founder Scott McConnell wrote: ‘Jim as a man of great wisdom and temperament, perhaps modestly libertarian but able to thrive professionally in mainstream GOP Washington circles, well attuned to the personalities and quirks which make up as much of the texture of national politics as ideological questions.’