Brill said his only early concern about the piece came up in email conversations with [editor Franklin] Foer and [owner/editor-in-chief Chris] Hughes, in which the editors referred to it as “the single-payer article” -- a description Brill felt didn’t capture the thrust of the piece and falsely suggested he was taking an editorial position in favor of a single-payer health care option.
Otherwise, Brill said the process was “going wonderfully” until he saw the planned cover art on Jan. 15. Brill described the cover to The Huffington Post as “ridiculous." He said it featured an underwear-clad young man strapped to a desk chair with “duct tape wrapped around him and IV tubes coming out of him.”
“It was something you would do if you were really drunk and ran the college newspaper,” Brill said.
But later that day another problem arose. 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.
Brill said he told Hughes that Obama wouldn't say anything particularly newsworthy, but the editor-in-chief was determined to make the Obama interview the cover story. Hughes offered to put the health care story on the cover of the next issue, but Brill declined.