Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Daily Beast's Tina Brown Brags About "Interesting Discussions" With Newsweek

How are things at the Daily Beast, the news + commentary site Tina Brown is running for Barry Diller?

Awesome! So says Tina Brown, in an “interview” her site is running with her today, to mark the Beast’s two-year anniversary: five million uniques, “ahead of projections” on advertising, etc. “A romping, vibrant, 2-year-old animal bursting with rude health.” (No mention of Howard Kurtz, though.)

In fact, it’s doing so great, Brown says, that Diller may end up pawning the thing off to Newsweek and new owner Sidney Harman.

Well, she doesn’t say that exactly. But she does acknowledge, out loud, for the first time, that the two sides are chatting:

We hear something is going on with Newsweek.

How clever of you to notice! Yes, there have been some interesting discussions going on, as we have with potential partners large and small all the time.


Here’s a more fleshed-out version of that discussion, via the NYT:

Mr. Harman and Ms. Brown met as recently as last week and are keen on working together. But whether The Daily Beast, which is financed by the billionaire investor Barry Diller, and Mr. Harman can reach a deal that is agreeable to all parties is still unknown, this person said, speaking anonymously to reveal privileged information.

Ms. Brown has gone as far as submitting a memorandum to Mr. Harman outlining how she would run Newsweek, but Mr. Harman was also interviewing other people for the job, this person added.

A few things:

  • It’s astonishing, and also true, that Harman bought Newsweek from the Washington Post (WPO) without knowing who he would hire to run the operation.
  • This also means that no one is really running things there now.
  • Brown would be a pretty good choice, all things considered.
  • And picking up the Beast wouldn’t be a terrible idea for Harman, assuming Diller can do it at the right price: Newsweek’s Web operations are okay, but not nearly as good as they look on paper. That’s because the site is largely dependent on for its traffic, and that’s not a healthy affair. Say what you will about Brown’s start-up, but it hasn’t had the crutch of a big distribution partner.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik