Last fall, Harper’s publisher and CEO John R. MacArthur promoted Christopher Cox, then serving as deputy editor of the 165-year-old literary and political magazine, to editor-in-chief. But this past Friday, less than three months into Cox’s tenure, MacArthur abruptly changed his mind. “I can confirm that I have been terminated from Harper’s Magazine because of editorial differences with the publisher,” Cox wrote in an email to Gawker on Tuesday. “I’m not prepared to say more than that at this time.”
We’re told that those “editorial differences” arose from a particularly tense meeting in late January, during which staffers debated implementing a redesigned cover of the print magazine—a change Cox apparently supported. Several days later, on January 29, with little warning or explanation, the famously change-averse MacArthur informed Cox that he was firing him. Cox’s termination was reportedly opposed by the magazine’s entire staff, none of whom were consulted about MacArthur’s decision.
Cox became editor-in-chief on November 1, 2015, succeeding Ellen Rosenbush, who became editor-at-large. Due to the magazine’s slower schedule, however, Cox only oversaw the January, February, and March issues of 2016 before he was terminated (the last of which has not yet hit newsstands).* Cox is still listed as editor on the magazine’s website.
MacArthur did not immediately return a voicemail left on his office phone. A Harper’s spokesperson did not answer an email or call requesting comment, either. If you know any more about Cox’s firing, please get in touch.
* Correction: This post originally stated that Cox had edited only two issues prior to being fired. In fact, he edited three; the third issue, for March 2016, has not yet been published. The text and headline have been updated to reflect this.