Author Steve Brill claims that the New Republic magazine hired Democratic
lobbyist "media specialist" Anita Dunn to help secure an Oval Office interview with President Barack Obama. The magazine ran the interview, which was in part conducted by former Obama campaign aide Chris Hughes, who now owns and publishes the New Republic, on the cover of their re-launch issue earlier this year.
"Brill said that Hughes told him Anita Dunn, Obama's former communications official whose firm, SKD Knickerbocker, was doing publicity for the magazine's relaunch, had helped The New Republic land an interview with Obama in the Oval Office. Hughes -- who worked for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and has attracted criticism for participating in the oval office sit-down along with Foer -– told Brill that the interview would be running on the cover of the relaunch issue instead of his piece," reports the Huffington Post.
Brill disclosed the information as part of his complaint that the New Republic had gone with the Obama interview for the cover instead of his piece (which he withdraw from the liberal magazine, and which Time magazine published this week).
The Huffington Post reports that neither Hughes nor Dunn responded for comment. But editor Franklin Foer did:
"Steve wrote an important story. I'm glad that it found a home and am sorry that it didn't ultimately land with us," Foer said in an email to The Huffington Post.
Foer dismissed the suggestion that Dunn had played a role in brokering the interview with Obama. "Chris and I applied for our interview through the White House communications shop," Foer said. "They were instantly interested. We didn't need external help nabbing the interview. Anita Dunn's firm, SKD Knickerbocker, did help with publicity for the relaunch."
Hughes claims the re-launched magazine is "non-partisan."
UPDATE: A representative from SKD Knickerbocker calls to clarify that Dunn is not a registered lobbyist. She is, Dunn's representative says, a "media specialist."