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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Economist is by a large margin the most valuable magazine on the planet, still going strong in the digital age, with a 50% non-controlling stake changing hands in 2015 for £469 million ($731 million) in cash. (In comparison, Marc and Lynne Benioff spent $190 million for 100% of Time in 2018.)

The intrigue: The Economist's allure is based in liberalism, but it's not easy to understand how that is defined.

The big picture: Every so often, a talented essayist attempts to identify the source of The Economist's appeal, and invariably finds that its actual quality falls far short of its reputation.

Both pieces are good, but neither aspires to being a comprehensive historical survey, going back to The Economist's founding in 1843.

  • Now, that survey has finally arrived, in the form of "Liberalism at Large: The World According to The Economist," a new book by Alexander Zevin.

Required reading: Pankaj Mishra's magisterial review-essay of Zevin's book has appeared in the New Yorker, and it is likely to change the way you view not only The Economist, but the entire edifice of liberalism.

  • When all 175 years of the magazine's history are viewed as a whole, the reek of colonial hypocrisy becomes impossible to ignore.

Go deeper: Radio's decline is podcasting's gain

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Podcasts

Net neutrality on the line under Biden

Federal net neutrality rules are back on the table in the Biden administration, after being nixed by Trump, but now might be complicated by the debate over social media companies' behavior.

Axios Re:Cap digs into why net neutrality matters and what comes next with Nilay Patel, editor-in-chief of The Verge and host of the Decoder podcast.

House grants waiver for retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to lead Pentagon

Defense Secretary nominee Lloyd Austin Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House voted 326-78 on Thursday to grant retired Gen. Lloyd Austin a waiver to lead the Pentagon, clearing the way for the Senate to confirm President Biden's nominee for defense secretary as early as this week.

Why it matters: Austin's nomination received pushback from some lawmakers, including Democrats, who cited a law that requires officers be out of the military for at least seven years before taking the job — a statute intended to reinforce the tradition of civilian control of the Pentagon.

Amanda Gorman steals the show on Inauguration Day

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Axios Visuals

Poet Amanda Gorman by far generated the most average interactions on social media on Inauguration Day, according to exclusive data from NewsWhip.