I couldn’t get hold of a copy of the new Tina Brown Newsweek out here–not even at LAX. So I’m left to judge it for now by its cover, which is … unexpectedly awful. … A featured story on Hillary Clinton ( just like the first issue of Talk, which showcased a disastrous HRC profile). … A piece by Kathleen Parker that’s not about what a jerk Elliot Spitzer was. … Both apparently linked to some bullshit N.Y. conference Brown is staging for 150 Women Movers and Shakers etc. … A piece from Harvey Weinstein, the mogul behind Talk, suggesting that Newsweek may wind up saying more about Tina’s relationships with various bigshots (Harvey, Hillary, the Hundred and Fifty) than about what’s happening in the world. (Maybe staffers could put out a second, riveting, magazine called ‘Why We Really Ran That Piece.’) The general impression: staleness, meaning a lack of both a) editorial imagination and b) news. Readers could be forgiven for checking for dust to make sure the magazine didn’t drop from the attic where they stored it around 1999. I had expected that some of the desperate hit-crazed undercurrent of the Daily Beast might carry over into Newsweek‘s initial presentation. But desperation would be an improvement. Desperation is a form of vitality.
It’s unfair to judge any publication by its first issue, even one long in planning. Every successful editorial venture I’ve been involved in has sucked the first few times out. Brown is very smart. Newsweek‘s covers will get better. They’ll have to, or else Tina will face some kind of internal revolt. She’s bought up the best writers in journalism and installed them in comfy berths on The Titanic for her stately Third Act cruise. They have to be a little queasy today.
Maybe the inside of the book is a multi-hued festival of delights. If it ever reaches my local newsstand. For now, though, it looks as if Tina has done the impossible: She’s made Jon Meacham seem young.
Update: Forbes‘ Meghan Casserly on that glamorous “2011 Women in the World Summit”:
.. a lot of this list and this issue are comprised of things I’ve heard before. And I’m not alone. Over at Jezebel, Irin Carmon calls attention out one salient factor: “Just about all of the activists quoted were at Brown’s Daily Beast Women In the World last Spring.”
Jezebel’s Carmon thinks the “Clinton-Brown axis may form its own old-girl network,” a point supported by Clinton gracing of the cover and the still-pending deal for Brown to pen a book on the former presidential candidate-turned Secretary of State.
Which leads me to question: are these really the women who are shaking the world…or just the world according to Tina?
Don’t be silly. This is a conference on women that features Harold Evans, Jane Harman and Charlie Rose! … P.S.: Tina’s postponed book, to be fair, was apparently not just about Hillary, but about both Clintons. Not that Hillary’s cooperation wouldn’t help …
More: Jack Shafer has now read the thing. Apparently it’s not as bad as feared. … It’s worse. … “This is a meal that a homeless person would walk away from.”
All this is discussed by Bob Wright and a disgruntled Newsweek ex-contractor on bloggingheads.tv. ….