FIGHTING BACK: The New Republic’s poaching spree is finally drawing a public response from the competition. On Tuesday, The New York Times reaffirmed its relationship with political writer Mark Leibovich, one of a handful of marquee journalists the Washington-based magazine had tried to poach. He was named chief national correspondent for the Sunday magazine, as well as a contributor to the Style section.

Sunday magazine editor Hugo Lindgren said Tuesday the appointment is a result of the New Republic’s overtures.

This story first appeared in the June 20, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Leibovich has been a contributor to the magazine since 2006, when he joined the Times. One of his pieces, a profile of Politico writer Mike Allen, won a National Magazine Award last year. But he was limited to a handful of stories a year, and wanted to do more long-form.

Lindgren had been trying to figure out a way to get Leibovich into the magazine more often without abandoning his responsibilities for the daily. When The New Republic came calling, the Times strengthened its hand by offering a full-time role at the magazine.

“He really loves magazine writing. It’s something The New Republic was talking to him about,” Lindgren said. “We tried to figure out a situation that was optimal for most parties.”

The appointment keeps Leibovich from fleeing to a magazine whose new wealthy owner, Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes, has given it a significant competitive edge. TNR has already gone after Sunday magazine contributor Robert Draper and, earlier this month, landed story editor Greg Veis. The newly acquisitive magazine has also successfully nabbed Walter Kirn and editor Sarah Goldstein from GQ.

Leibovich, who declined to comment on TNR, said the Sunday magazine gives him a bigger canvas to cover the culture and politics of Capitol Hill, including media and sports. Though he will write for the news report when needed and contribute to the Style section, the magazine will be his priority. “I want to write as much as possible,” he said.

Leibovich has been covering the presidential race since coming back from book leave in September, and it has not been decided when he’ll go off daily campaign duty. He said it’s likely to be soon.

He will continue to cover the presidential race for the magazine alongside Matt Bai and Draper, who, Lindgren pointed out, has a cover story coming in July. TNR has not come up in conversations between the two, Lindgren said.

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