Under new ownership from a prominent and liberal Texas family, Texas Monthly Magazine appears poised to push its editorial bent even further to the left and farther out of touch with Texans.
On Monday, the Texas-themed travel and barbecue magazine announced it had hired Tim Taliaferro as the magazine’s new editor-in-chief. Formerly at the Huffington Post, Taliaferro was most recently the Vice President of Communications for Texas Exes, the University of Texas at Austin’s alumni association. In that role, Taliaferro edited the Alcalde, the university’s alumni newsletter.
UT Alumnus Mark Pulliam is not impressed with the hire. “Texas Monthly always regarded itself as editorial royalty, like the New York Times,” Pulliam commented. “Then the new owner puts someone in charge who edited the equivalent of a student newspaper!”
Pulliam and Talafierro feuded in 2015 when the latter took to Twitter to criticize late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, calling his comments in oral argument during the Fisher case on race-based admissions “racist and offensive.” Taliaferro’s comments were criticized by Texas Supreme Court justices and called “silly” by the L.A. Times.
Ultimately, Texas Exes was forced to issue an apology.
The personnel move comes in the wake of Paul Hobby’s purchase of the magazine. Hobby, the son of former Democratic Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby, recently resigned from the Texas Ethics Commission to make the move into publishing. Hobby is a defendant in several civil rights lawsuits stemming from his leadership of the TEC where he weaponized the agency against conservative grassroots organizations.
Hobby has deep connections with the University of Texas and Texas Exes. His brother-in-law, John Beckworth, was previously the President of Texas Exes and is now an Associate Dean at UT Law School.
Documents published by Watchdog.org revealed that under Beckworth and Taliaferro’s leadership, Texas Exes accepted around $200,000 in payments from embattled UT President Bill Powers in order to fund an aggressive communications campaign to defend him in light of a pay-for-play admissions scandal. Powers was ultimately forced to resign in 2015.
Texas Monthly already suffered an embarrassing episode last month when senior editor Erica Grieder abruptly resigned in light of Donald Trump’s presidential victory. After leaving Texas Monthly, Grieder, who often claimed to be a Republican while working at the magazine, took to social media to call Gov. Greg Abbott a “f***ing disgrace” and a “pathetic weasel.” She also revealed she had been maintaining an opposition research file on the governor.
With Grieder out and Taliaferro and Hobby in, it will be interesting to see how Texas Monthly’s treatment of the legislature will change.
The magazine releases a list of its “best and worst legislators” following each legislative session. While the magazine has traditionally attacked conservatives and praised liberal legislators with its awards, Taliaferro’s pedigree suggests the awards may take an even further leftward and pro-UT bent.