News & Opinion | April 11, 2019 5:00 am

The Real Story Behind John F. Kennedy Jr.’s “George” Magazine

Cindy Crawford, Ann Coulter, Rob Lowe and others discuss the scion's attempt at a bipartisan publication that ran from 1995 until 2001

John F. Kennedy Jr.'s introduces "George Magazine." (Getty)
John F. Kennedy Jr.'s introduces "George Magazine." (Getty)
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The idea seems almost crazy today: a magazine based on the idea that people with different political beliefs could actually have a conversation and not start screaming at each other about it. A bipartisan publication for people in the Beltway, Republicans in the South, lefties in California or Manhattan and everybody in-between. All that, and it was started by the scion of one of the most famous Democratic families of the last century. That’s the story of John F. Kennedy Jr.’s George magazine.

Well, that’s not the entire tale. The bulk of the story can be found at the Hollywood Reporter where Lisa DePaulo has put together an exhaustive oral history of JFK Jr.’s magazine that lasted from 1995 until 2001, and includes insights from interns and editors, as well as memories from Newt Gingrich, Cindy Crawford, Robert De Niro, Rob Lowe, former contributor Ann Coulter and many others.

Right out of the gate, it’s established Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, always the concerned mother, told her friend Joe Armstrong that her son wasn’t happy being a lawyer and didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. “He’s at the DA’s office. Two weeks ago, he had to file an action against somebody who stole a bag of potato chips,” Jackie O told Armstrong. George was really a way out of that life for the son of the 35th president. The origin of the name of the magazine is a little up in the air; one person said it came from music producer Lou Adler, JFK Jr’s then-girlfriend Daryl Hannah’s brother-in-law, while Armstrong says Kennedy Jr. called up his mother one day and said, “Mummy, tell Joe that I was going through the tunnels in Vietnam and it hit me today that the magazine ought to be named George.”

Everything you ever wanted to know about George is in the longread. Cindy Crawford talks about posing for the cover of the first issue dressed like the first president; De Niro talks about going to the original Nobu with Junior and the two of them not talking much; and one freelancer even says the famous publisher was also a “dream editor.” And, as Rachel Tashjian at GQ points out, JFK Jr. was also sort of ahead of his time fashion-wise, as wearing a bike chain underneath his designer suit was “Very Comme des Garcons Spring/Summer 2019.”