Peter Stevenson’s 5,000-word New York Times magazine profile of wunderkind “editrix” Tina Brown is a well-written, well-reported, breezy-enough read. It’s notable mostly for painting Brown with a very light touch—her oft-derided time at The New Yorker’s helm is glossed over (“Brown’s willingness to publish glitzy, less-than-stellar articles galled traditionalists ”)—as well as for its thumbs-up assessment of her new Newsweek (“early issues show signs of blood starting to pump through the veins again”), and for not mentioning the embarrassments among The Daily Beast’s coups (yes, Brown snapped up Andrew Sullivan and three of his employees, but she also gave Meghan McCain another national platform).
What else we learn about Brown is nothing particularly new: her Rolodex is as large as her appetite for a particular type of Manhattan media soiree. Her first two Newseek issues were both newsstand and advertising successes. She wants to bring a European sensibility to the magazine. Talk probably should have been a weekly. One surprise: She didn’t know Newsweek had a Moscow correspondent.
It’s the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from the slew of Brown profiles you’ve probably read recently—AdWeek might be on to something when it complained Friday that the Times appears a touch Smitten with Brown, having already run a 2,000-word piece on her in February. (Perhaps AdWeek, newly launched under its own colorful media personality, Michael Wolff, is smarting from a lack of similar attention). But Brown is the closest thing the media world might have to Charlie Sheen—we grumble about blanket coverage about her as we read every new piece that comes in.
Most interesting about the latest Times profile might be the section in which Stevenson, who later notes that Newsweek’s latest advertisers might fit better in Vanity Fair, offers readers a passage that itself might fit well into that magazine or Maxim. Take a look at this Martha Stewart/Pam Anderson fantasy combo description of Brown.
One afternoon in late March, Brown backed out of her apartment kitchen carrying a tray loaded with tea and cookies. She put the tray down on a small table in the living room and sat down in a window seat next to an orange cat curled in sleep. Under a black suit, she wore a white shirt unbuttoned enough to display the cleavage that inspired Private Eye to dub her a “buxom hackette” when she was 25.
Eyes up, please.