Steve Forbes, a life in review

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The life story of the man born into a family of publishers and who leads one of the most influential magazines in the world.

Publisher, would-be President and leading Neo-Con thinker, Malcolm Stevenson “Steve” Forbes Jnr. was born in New Jersey in 1947 into America’s East Coast elite and one of its most famous publishing dynasties.  Educated in private boarding schools and Princeton, he saw out the Vietnam War serving in New Jersey’s National Guard, during time he married his wife Sabrina, with whom he has five daughters.

The Family Firm

Forbes’ grandfather, a Scottish immigrant from rural Aberdeenshire, founded Forbes magazine in 1917.  His father, Malcolm Snr., collector of yachts, art, Fabergé eggs and celebrity friends, grew the magazine to its status of new capitalist handbook and, somewhat inevitably, Forbes followed Daddy into the family business – if not his father’s flamboyant lifestyle – taking on the editorship of Forbes Magazine on this father’s death in 1990.

Forbes had been contributing to the magazine since the 1960s and was already a leading conservative thinker and outspoken proponent of free-market supply-side Reaganomics.  In 1985, Reagan had appointed him to head the Board of International Broadcasting, where he oversaw its anti-communist Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty broadcasting into the Soviet Union until 1993.

Commercial Success

When Forbes took the helm of the family publishing empire, he continued to expand its reach: within two years it was leading all of its rivals in advertising pages, something his father never achieved.  However, this economic success drew accusations by fellow journalists that to achieve this growth he had handed some editorial control to advertisers.  However much veracity there was to these rumours, there was no doubting his success: the company’s earnings had risen above $1bn per annum.

Political Disappointment

Forbes also inherited his father’s ambitions; his father had served in the New Jersey Senate from 1951 to 1957 and made an unsuccessful bid for Governor of New Jersey.  Determined to go one better than his father again, Forbes made two unsuccessful bids for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1996 and 2000.  The first time standing on a platform of a single flat tax rate of 17% and the second on a more conservative Christian pro-life platform against George W. Bush.

Despite ploughing in some $80m of his own money, and selling off some of his stock in the Forbes empire to do so, neither of his two presidential nomination bids were successful.  Critics said he lacked the necessary charisma to gain the nomination, but Forbes remained unrepentantly determined, reportedly saying:

“My father once spent $5m on a birthday party for himself in Tangiers.  Why can’t I spend a few more running for President?”

Neo-Con Thought Leader

From his position at the head of the Forbes empire, Forbes continues to write editorial content for the “capitalist tool” his father fashioned.  He is the author of several conservative titles, his most recent, co-authored with Elizabeth Ames and published in December 2016, being “Reviving America: How Repealing Obamacare, Replacing the Tax Code and Reforming The Fed will Restore Hope and Prosperity”.

Forbes was an early supporter of Donald Trump in his bid for the Republican nomination and, ultimately, the White House.  He is also a trustee of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, Freedom House, and the Heritage Foundation, a founding signatory of the “Project for the New American Century”, and on the board of directors of the FreedomWorks Foundation and the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies.

Read more about Steve Forbes.