George was a glossy monthly magazine centered on the theme of politics-as-lifestyle founded by John F. Kennedy Jr. and Michael J. Berman with publisher Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. in New York City in September 1995. Its tagline was "Not Just Politics As Usual." It was published from 1995 to 2001.
|First issue||September 1995|
|Final issue||January 2001|
|Company||Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S.|
|Based in||New York City|
For the debut issue, creative director Matt Berman (no relation to co-founder Michael Berman) conceived a cover which received a great deal of attention for its image of Cindy Crawford dressed as George Washington photographed by Herb Ritts.
George departed from the format of traditional political publications, whose audience primarily comprised people in or around the political world. The general template for George was similar to magazines such as Rolling Stone, Esquire or Vanity Fair. The consistent underlying theme was to marry the themes of celebrity and media with the subject of politics in such a way that the general public would find political news and discourse about politics more interesting to read.
|Washington Journal interview with George executive editor Elizabeth Mitchell, August 18, 1997, C-SPAN|
|Washington Journal discussion of the George media issue with George editor Gary Ginsberg, Matt Drudge, and Hanna Rosin, April 25, 1998, C-SPAN|
When it first appeared, George attracted great interest, and for a brief period had the largest circulation of any political magazine in the nation, partly due to the celebrity status of Kennedy, but it soon began losing money. Kennedy and George occasionally courted controversy to boost sales, one notable example being the 1997 issue wherein Kennedy posed in the nude and in his editorial lambasted his cousins Michael Kennedy and Joe Kennedy II, whose marital scandals had recently made news, as "poster boys for bad behavior."
Kennedy later complained that the magazine was not taken seriously in the publishing world.
Critics called George "the political magazine for people who don't understand politics," assailing it for "stripping any and all discussion of political issues from its coverage of politics." In a feature in its final issue, Spy magazine asserted that the magazine's premise was flawed because, "Politics overlapped with Pop Culture in such a limited number of ways". That fairly critical profile in Spy described George 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".
After Kennedy died in a plane crash in 1999, Hachette Filipacchi Magazines purchased Kennedy's portion of the magazine from his estate and continued for over a year, with Frank Lalli as editor-in-chief. With falling advertising sales, the magazine ceased publication in 2001, two years after Kennedy's death.
|Tenth anniversary discussion at Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, C-SPAN|
In 2005, Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government held a panel discussion titled "Not Just Politics as Usual," which commemorated the 10th anniversary of the magazine's launch. The panel was moderated by Tom Brokaw and featured appearances by other journalists.
- DePaulo, Lisa (April 9, 2019). "John F. Kennedy Jr. and George Magazine: A Story of Politics, Love and Loss, 20 Years Later". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
- "By George, JFK Jr. Bares A Lot." CNN AllPolitics. August 11, 1997. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
- "Poster Boy for Poster-Boy Behavior". Spy. March 1998. pp. 30–38. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
- Bercovici, Jeff. "Hachette delivers death ax to George". Media Life Magazine. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
- "Reliable Sources: 'George' Folds". CNN Transcripts. January 6, 2001. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
- Gavel, Doug (October 13, 2005). "'Not just politics as usual' Kennedy School pays tribute to JFK Jr., George". The Harvard Gazette.
- York, Anthony (July 18, 1999). "Can George survive without JFK Jr.?". Salon.
- Jacobs, Samuel P. (October 12, 2005). "IOP Honors George Magazine at Forum". The Harvard Crimson.
- Kennedy School Press Release: George Magazine Anniversary Forum Archived 2006-11-25 at the Wayback Machine
- "George Magazine To Fold In March". CNN. January 4, 2001. Archived from the original on 2006-11-29.
- Usborne, David (January 6, 2001). "Without its founder, JFK Jnr's 'George' folds". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on January 2, 2008.