The Unsinkable Tina Brown

Alexander Abad-Santos
The Atlantic Wire
The Unsinkable Tina Brown

We're all supposed to hate Tina Brown. We get it. She's the queen of shock covers, she talks on the Amtrak quiet car, and completely sunk one of the most iconic magazines she was paid a lot to fix. So when we sat down with New York's  Q&A with the Queen of Chaos last night we were prepared to hate but .... we sort of want to work or at least gab on the phone with her. Kinda like Buzzfeed's Ben Smith: 

Considering quitting to go to work for @thetinabeast, based how fun she obviously is to talk to.… Your move, @peretti.

— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) November 19, 2012

or Wired investigative reporter Steve Silberman:

Not a "Tina Brown watcher" or anything, but I really enjoyed this dishy, epic-length Q&A w/@michaelkinsley.

— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) November 19, 2012

Michael Kinsley's 5,500+ word Q&A with Brown is sort of gigantic. Some profiles the magazine publishes aren't even that long. But the format is kinda perfect in that we get an unvarnished look at Brown—and it allows her to work her "these are not the drones you're looking for" magic on us. Add to that, it's sort of hard to imagine the tough work Kinsley would have had to do segueing a line like this in: "I think Arianna’s terrific. We’ve been friends since she was at Cambridge and I was at Oxford. We shared some of the same boyfriends." 

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And Brown is just so candid and glib with stuff like sharing Arianna Huffington's boyfriends and pretentious Tweeters ... that we almost forgot what we were supposed to be talking about—that it's the first interview-interview that Brown has done since she announced that Newsweek would be shuttered. To that, she tosses in words like "romantic gamble" and "zeitgeist," squeezes in the fact that she couldn't make magic even though Newsweek was spending $42 million each year, and glosses over the fact that there will probably be plenty of Newsweek journalists losing jobs in the coming months. But, like, it totally wasn't her fault because taking over the thing was insane: 

Well, let’s face it—when I look back on it, taking over Newsweek, it just seems completely insane, actually. Within the first few months, one of the partners dies—before we’d even really gotten the office straight. I came into a situation where pretty much every senior member of management had departed. That was one of the big differences between Newsweek and The New Yorker. When I took over The New Yorker, there was a very, very good, smart staff in place.

And we sort of believe her—if we liked Twinkies and Newsweek as much as we say we do, they'd probably still be in business, right? Would Arianna's boyfriend-sharer lie to us about the impossible? No way. Then again, Newsweek's execs were probably thinking the same thing.