How does Chris Hughes, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The New Republic and Facebook Co-founder, feel about Mark Zuckerberg hosting a fundraiser for Republican Governor Chris Christie? Hughes joined ABC News in a web exclusive to discuss viewer questions from Facebook about Christie, his career successes, The New Republic, and his contributions to Facebook before the “This Week” roundtable on Sunday.
This week, Hughes launched a redesign of The New Republic, kicking off with a dynamic interview with President Obama. Before ABC News’ Abby Phillip asked Hughes about the sit-down with Obama, she broached the topic of the Christie/ Zuckerberg alliance.
“I, for one, have a lot of questions about Chris Christie, particularly because less than a year ago he vetoed a marriage equality bill in the New Jersey state legislature. Which for me personally, I got married to my husband last June, [it] was just really personally frustrating. I mean, there are tens of thousands of couples in New Jersey that can’t share their love and be recognized under the law because of that decision. I’m not a single issue voter, and I think most people aren’t either, but for me personally, it would raise serious concerns about supporting someone like him.”
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You recently interviewed President Obama for the magazine. What was that like?
“It was an incredible opportunity. We see our role at the New Republic as one where we want to ask hard questions of our leaders. Whatever you may think about President Obama, I think one of the things that is in the history of the New Republic and the press in general is to hold our leaders accountable. So we got a chance to go to the Oval Office, Frank Foer, the editor of the New Republic and I…and have a wide-ranging conversation about everything from Syria to economic policy to guns and to football…I hope will give our readers an additional dimension into what’s going on in the president’s mind as he starts his second term.”
This week, a new iteration of the New Republic is going to be launched. What are you going to do to preserve this magazine’s historic mission? And what can people expect?
“With the redesigned New Republic, we’re trying to hold on to this hundred year old tradition of doing deep analysis on politics and culture. But we’re also trying to broaden that and cover everything from technology to science to the world of ideas in a way that’s really accessible. In a way that feels like it invites you in as a reader. I think that in 2013 in order to do that, we have to have a website where you can listen to our content, where you can engage in social conversations with it, and where it’s just as easy to read it on your iPhone as it is on your computer screen. So when we expand the company from where it’s been historically, it’s about broadening the content that we provide, but also making sure that it’s as easy as possible to – to not only read it, but also discuss it.”
At 29, you’ve had all this success. How do you do it all?
“It’s been a busy, busy few years…One of the key things whether it was with Facebook or now at the New Republic, is to be surrounded by really talented people. And right now whether it’s the editor that I have, my chief operating officer, the people who run the ads team, it’s really an unparalleled group of people… I wouldn’t be able to do anything, whether it’s what I’m doing now or a few years ago, without the help of really smart people around me.”
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to be a young entrepreneur?
“It really depends on what the field is. If it’s an internet company, one of the things that’s amazing is that the cost of entry, the cost of creating something new is very low. So you can learn a few basic skills, you can become a coder, and the next thing you know you have an app in the App Store or you have a website up. And in that sphere I think it’s great to just try it out and experiment…Whether it’s something you do on the evenings or the weekends…there’s very few limits for innovation. In other fields of course, it’s a little bit more challenging. Oftentimes you need more capital investment…you need deeper skills and familiarity. And in those things, I think really pursuing an education and finding the human resources, friends and family and experts, that you can rely on is incredibly important.”
What do you think was your most meaningful contribution to Facebook?
“When we started Facebook about ten years ago, we were trying to do something pretty simple. Enable people to connect to their friends, their family, and the people that they cared about. What’s amazing is the Facebook that we started then was incredibly basic. Each person had a profile, but you had one photo, had your favorite interests, and you didn’t even have basic things like messaging or commenting or the wall. The Facebook that exists now is leaps and bounds ahead of what we did then…I really enjoyed working on…the initial photos feature, which enabled people to tag their friends, which seems like second nature now, but was new on the internet then.”