​Inside The New Yorker magazine

He's the talk-about man behind one of our most storied magazines. He's David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker. This morning, he's talking with Erin Moriarty of "48 Hours":

"I'd never been the editor of anything," said David Remnick, except for his high school newspaper, The Smoke Signal. "I kind of did the whole newspaper on my kitchen table and it came out twice a year. I don't think that really was adequate preparation!"


Since his high school days in New Jersey, Remnick's come a long way. For 17 years he's been at the helm of The New Yorker, which marks its 90th anniversary this year.

Remnick is only the fifth editor of the weekly magazine, and perhaps one of its most influential. It's said that what he's thinking right now, you'll be talking about next week.

He personally chooses the magazine's artistic and topical covers -- occasionally so controversial, they spark an outcry.

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The New Yorker

Take Remnick's satirical cover in July 2008, of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, seen wearing a turban and robes, and fist-bumping his wife.

From CNN:

Wolf Blitzer: "Can't tell you how many people have said to me, David, if they wouldn't have known this was on the cover of The New Yorker magazine, they would have just seen this cartoon and been asked which magazine has this on the cover, almost everyone would have said some neo-Nazi magazine, some Ku Klux Klan magazine ..."

Remnick: "Aw, come on, Wolf!"


"I found such a question appalling, just dumb. Dumb!" Remnick said.

"You couldn't consider that maybe you went a little too far?" asked Moriarty.

"Well, I think satire is often about going 'too far' enough. If you're not going too far sometimes, you're playing it awfully safe."

Did the magazine lose any subscribers? "Here's what happens: People call up and say, 'Cancel my subscription!' And my silent answer to that is, 'You cancel your own damn subscription!'"

But in person, Remnick seems less firebrand and more good-humored brainiac. The magazine seems to reflect his broad interests: news-breaking articles mixed with fiction and, of course, its legendary cartoons.

And he's expanded the reach of his magazine with a new radio show and a yearly live event, The New Yorker Festival, which attracts newsmakers and celebrities like Larry David.

With the festival selling out and the magazine reaching younger readers on their electronic devices, Remnick became the editor who could turn red ink to black in an age when many magazines are struggling.

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David Remnick became the editor who could turn red ink to black in an age when many magazines are struggling.
CBS News

"I knew at some level that the impact that I could make was infinitely more if I could be a good editor of The New Yorker than as a writer," he said. "And I don't think I'm a terrible writer or journalist. I'm not bad."

Not bad, indeed. Remnick won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for his book, "Lenin's Tomb." By any measure, he's lived a writer's dream life. He wanted to be a newsman, and started at the Washington Post. He did features, even covered sports.

"I covered whatever I was told to, including hockey, which I had to keep somebody on the phone to explain the game to me. I didn't know what the hell was going on!"

Then his life was changed by two events.