Michael Isikoff, the Newsweek scribe who announced Monday he plans to leave the news weekly for NBC next month, said the magazine's pending sale was part of the reason for his decision.
“Clearly, it was an impetus, sure,” he told me Monday. “There is a great deal of uncertainty about the future of this magazine.”
When asked which of the potential buyers he would most want to become the new owner, he declined comment. But when asked about conservative outlet Newsmax, which is among the suitors, he said: “It would not be my preferred owner of Newsweek.” Asked why, he said, “I will let you speculate.”
Isikoff then went on to say, “It would not be a good thing if whoever buys the magazine is affiliated with a political ideology, either left or right.”
He declined to speculate about any other potential buyers, saying he has no more information than anyone else. “I only know what I read in the papers,” he said. “I have read and been told there are other [buyers] that are not public.”
Isikoff, 57, has been with Newsweek for 16 years and prior to that was at The Washington Post for 13 years. Both publications are owned by The Washington Post Company.
“I have a lot of mixed feelings,” Isikoff said about the magazine's pending sale. “I have had a great run at this magazine and I am going to miss it. It is hard to know what the future is and a great opportunity came along and I am taking advantage of it.”
When asked about how a new owner might affect Newsweek via downsizing or a changed news approach, Isikoff said: “I was a very big fan of the old Newsweek, of what it used to be and what it has been over the decades. I would hate to think it would not continue in some form.”
But he stressed that he approaches news from the journalism side, not the business side. “I am a news guy, I am not a management guy,” Isikoff said. “I have no credentials to make pronouncements about what can succeed in this marketplace.”
Isikoff said he will start at NBC on July 12.