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Timothy Noah, formerly a senior editor at the newly-relaunched New Republic, sent the political sector of Twitter into a confused frenzy Friday afternoon when he tweeted the magazine had unexpectedly fired him:

He later confirmed that he wasn't joking:

A spokeswoman at the magazine's D.C. office declined to comment on Noah's tweet, nor would she confirm whether Noah had been fired. But subsequently editor Franklin Foer released this statement: "Tim Noah has been a strong voice for liberalism and a rigorous columnist for The New Republic. We’ve appreciated his passion and contribution to the magazine over the past two years and wish him the very best." 

Meanwhile, Twitter reacted to the sudden dismissal:

The timing of Noah's firing, as his tweet suggests, is quite abrupt: the magazine relaunched in January, and Noah has been contributing columns to both the print magazine and TNR's revamped website as he has done since he was hired in September 2011, shortly after he was laid off from Slate. (Indeed, his latest column, on federal funding of political science programs, was published hours before he tweeted that he was fired.) Two months ago he published a well-received book about income inequality, The Great Divergence.

Since tweeting, Noah hasn't revealed any significant details of his firing. He told Michael Calderone at The Huffington Post that editor Franklin Foer, installed by owner Chris Hughes in May 2012, implied that his version of the magazine's longstanding TRB column "isn't a good fit for the direction the magazine is going in." Noah took over TRB from Jonathan Chait after Chait left for New York magazine in September 2011 when Richard Just was editor of The New Republic and Martin Peretz still owned it. Hughes purchased the magazine six months later and named Franklin Foer editor last May.

Update, 3/23, 12:30 PM: Noah passed along this statement via email:

I don't have much light to shed here. Frank Foer summoned me to his office and said, "The column is not a good fit for the direction we're taking the magazine." Since he hadn't spoken to me much about my column lately, except occasionally to say he liked one, I don't know the source of his dissatisfaction, and I wasn't interested in finding out after he told me I was fired.

When Frank first assumed the editorship he said that he felt the print column was less lively than my Web stuff. But I hadn't heard that complaint during the past year, and it was my impression he was now satisfied with the column, too. Perhaps Chris Hughes wanted to eliminate the TRB column. Its placement suffered in the redesign. But I really don't know.

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