Newsweek-Daily Beast talks back on, says report

Michael Calderone
Newsweek, Daily Beast talks resume
Newsweek, Daily Beast talks resume

Tina Brown was expected to be Newsweek's next editor. Then she wasn't. Now she might be yet again.

The New York Post reports that partnership talks between the iconic print magazine and the Brown-helmed news and commentary site have resumed "after a three-week cooling off period."

Brown, the former editor of the New Yorker and Vanity Fair,  reportedly wanted editorial control of both the Daily Beast and Newsweek when talks fell apart last month. The Wall Street Journal noted the difficulties in hashing out an agreement between three outsize personalities: Brown; media mogul and Daily Beast co-founder Barry Diller; and Newsweek's new owner, billionaire Sidney Harman.

"The engagement was fun but the pre-nup got too complex," Brown wrote after the proposed Newsweek- Daily Beast marriage fell apart.

Indeed, Steve Fishman wrote just a few weeks ago in New York magazine about the collapse of the deal over questions of who would have ultimate control of the combined operation:

As Harman sat studying the proposal, the joint venture started to look like a takeover. True, Harman would be a CEO-like figure with day-to-day operating responsibilities, but it seemed to him like he was being squeezed out of his own deal. Stephen Colvin, the Beast's president, would be Newsweek's president. And according to the proposed governance structure, Tina wouldn't even report to Harman but to an independent board. Even if the staff at the Beast had politely kept their dismissive attitude to themselves, the proposal made their feelings abundantly clear.

So are negotiations for a magazine marriage really back on?

Harman, reached by phone, declined to comment on the report. A Daily Beast spokesman also declined to comment.

Newsweek staffers talked about a Plan B shortly after the Daily Beast deal fell apart. But nearly a month later, Harman still hasn't pulled the trigger on hiring a top editor. So now it's starting to look like he may be back to Plan A.

Harman, who made his fortune in audio equipment, paid $1 for the magazine and assumed $47 million in liabilities. So far he hasn't put his stamp on the magazine, and many of its most recognizable names have left.

Former Editor Jon Meacham announced he was leaving the magazine on the day Harman agreed to purchase Newsweek from the Washington Post Co. in August. Several top Newsweek staffers followed, including Fareed Zakaria, Howard Fineman, Daniel Gross (who came to Yahoo! Finance), Mark Hosenball and Evan Thomas.

(AP /Charles Krupa)