Today’s New York Times contains a lengthy investigative piece that details how the Daily Beast’s Tina Brown took over an already-failing Newsweek and only managed to pretty much finish it off. After a disastrous run that started in late 2010, the Daily Beast finally unloaded Newsweek over the weekend by selling it to IBT Media. Details of the sale are not yet publicly known, but according the theTimes, Brown has “no regrets” about overseeing one of the great media catastrophes in modern times:
“We did a cover on the beached white male and perhaps that’s another reason for the old guard to be angry at me,” she joked during a recent interview at The Beast’s offices. But she said she had no regrets.
“It was really exhilarating,” she said. “We did great journalism.”
According to the Times’ reporting, all this “great journalism” resulted in was a continued flood of red ink and a number of unhappy staffers who only saw misguided chaos in Brown’s management style. This included extravagant spending on fruitless assignments, reports that she ordered as many as 82 cover mock-ups in a single week (Brown denies this), chronic indecision, fluffy covers of Regis Philbin and a “reimagined” Princess Diana that alienated the newsroom, and an atmosphere of fear that “paralyzed” employees who “feared her wrath.”
Something the Times misses is how quickly Brown turned Newsweek’s weekly cover choices into a running joke. Attacks on the likes of Republican Michele Bachman would frequently crop up in-between covers of Saint Barack Obama. This got so bad that it became something of a running joke, even among Brown’s left-wing media counterparts.
Another miss by the Times is the claim that what Brown did was try to turn Newsweek into “an Economist-like ideas journal.” As someone familiar with both Newsweek and The Economist, I am just not seeing the comparison.
The fall of Newsweek began under editor Jon Meacham, who drove the iconic newsweekly off a cliff during his disastrous ’06 to ’10 reign. Under his guidance, Meacham took what had been an informative and readable news magazine with a standard liberal bias and turned it into a stuffy, hard-left publication that had little appeal outside of the wealthy enclaves of Manhattan. It was during those years that Newsweek’s circulation was cut in half and advertising revenues dropped 79%.
Rather than fix the obvious, though, Brown seemed only interested in doubling down on alienating the vast swath of middle America where most of the customers live.
Tina Brown is certainly successful when it comes to impressing the wealthy, left-wing elite. But as this tweet from April (and her Newsweek reign) proves, she is incredibly out of touch with the common man and therefore the common customer:
I introduced Oprah to my beloved housekeeper, Cynthia. Very happy moment. #WIW13
— Tina Brown (@TheTinaBeast) April 5, 2013
To be fair to Brown, she is not alone in this regard.
Under the threat of new media, the mainstream media as a whole are shrinking into a small, more intensely leftist, removed, and out-of-touch bubble. Rather than focus on jobs, the deficit, and the overall economy — issues that poll after poll prove the American people are most concerned about — the media instead focus on issues only left-wing media elites care about: gun control, gay marriage, Global Warming, and Al Sharpton’s latest race hoax.
Meanwhile, we live in a country incapable of creating enough jobs to keep up with population growth and a media so in love with Obama they cheerlead an economy only growing at 1.7% per quarter.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC