May 10th, 2014

Tina Brown strikes a blow for the integrity of real journalists versus Matt Drudge

Or something like that:

The Monica Lewinsky confessional in Vanity Fair brings back a torrent of unfond memories of the appalling cast of tabloid gargoyles who drove the scandal. Remember them? Treacherous thatched-roof-haired drag-queen Linda Tripp, with those dress-for-success shoulder pads? Cackling, fact-lacking hack Lucianne Goldberg, mealy-mouthed Pharisee Kenneth Starr—the whole buzzing swarm of legal, congressional and gossip industry flesh flies, feasting on the entrails. And, of course, hitting “send” on each new revelation that no one else would publish, the solitary, perfectly named Matt Drudge, operating in pallid obsession out of his sock-like apartment in Miami.

A once-in-a-lifetime cast! Or so we all thought. But what we didn’t know at the time is that they were not some passing cultural excrescence. They were the face of the future. The things that shocked us then—the illicitly taped conversations, the wholesale violations of elementary privacy, the globally broadcast sexual embarrassments, all the low-life disseminated malice—is now the communications industry as it operates every minute of every day.

Oh, the horror! says Brown, who cut her teeth on gossip as a wunderkind at Vanity Fair:

At Vanity Fair, Brown’s editorial philosophy was informed by two insights: first, that celebrities are intrinsically worth knowing about no matter what they’re like, and, second, that American celebrities take themselves very seriously. That means they must be praised with great earnestness or smeared with all available dirt, with the intensity due to people of their station.

I guess Brown doesn’t believe that Clinton was one of those who should have been “smeared with all available dirt”—after all, he was a Democrat, not a Republican. But there’s no doubt that if anyone was going to sling dirt on anyone, it should have been the lovely Brown rather than such unbeautiful “tabloid gargoyles” as the “thatched-roof-haired drag-queen” Tripp, the “cackling…hack” Goldberg, and “pallid” Drudge in his teeny-weeny apartment. The nerve of them, scooping a press that refused for political reasons to report on a big big story!

Brown alternates between sympathy for Monica Lewinsky and approbation, although she leans more to the sympathy side. That’s not surprising, since there are some interesting parallels between Brown’s and Lewinsky’s career, although the British Brown was tremendously much more successful with her own sexual escapades as a young woman. It helped that, at least for quite a while, she was also quite good at the publishing business, specializing in making cold properties hot. But it’s also the case that she got her start by being taken up in her early 20s by literary lights with whom she’d slept.

A tiny bit later on, one of them turned out to be the publisher of the British Sunday Times Harold Evans, who left his wife and three kids for Brown in the mid-70s. They married in 1981 and are still together, so their relationship seems to have stood the test of time, unlike that of the much-more-ill-fated Lewinsky and her married paramour. But at the beginning there were more parallels with Lewinsky than the mere fact that Brown had an affair with a married man: Evans was Brown’s powerful boss, and she was about twenty-five while he was about fifty years old. It’s not such a stretch to imagine that, when Brown writes, “Other women can often be the worst at cutting any slack towards the love interest in a sex scandal” she might be thinking of her own experience.

But there’s virtually no doubt at all that, for Brown, this represents something up close and personal:

The press was at the height of its power when the Monica story began and Drudge was its underbelly.

The ascendant media that looked down on him has been pretty much destroyed…

That too, is a story of humiliation. And not just hers.

That “ascendant media” of the time and its subsequent “humiliation” included Tina Brown. She’d been ascending for quite some time and her star has fallen in recent years, a fact for which she almost certainly blames Drudge and his low-life internet companions.

24 Responses to “Tina Brown strikes a blow for the integrity of real journalists versus Matt Drudge”

  1. Matt_SE Says:

    “…his sock-like apartment in Miami.”

    I don’t even know what that means. It doesn’t sound complimentary, though.
    Also, would it be fair to say that this turn-of-phrase is “sneering?”
    Well done, Tina. Well. Done. [golf clap]

  2. Matt_SE Says:

    “…the wholesale violations of elementary privacy…”

    Um, you mean like the recording of Donald Sterling?

  3. neo-neocon Says:


    I offer for “sock-like”: small, sort of L-shaped, smelly, and hot.

  4. Mr. Frank Says:

    Let me get this straight. The president is having sexual activity with a young intern in the Oval office and this is not news for the MSM. A similar thing happened with John Edwards. Why should anyone believe that the MSM have any integrity?

  5. Matt_SE Says:

    And as you allude to, a logical fallacy:
    How can the media be “ascendant” and also at “the height of its power?”
    Unless the media was at that particular height but was going to rise even higher…but we know that’s NOT what happened.

    So I suspect that Brown’s use of “ascendant” was more like wishful thinking, and instead of “ascendant,” the media had either topped out or was, in fact, “descending.”

  6. Matt_SE Says:


    How about “cozy and warm?”
    See? She approves of Drudge’s décor!

  7. Matt_SE Says:

    BTW, quite a florid piece.
    But I just used the word “florid.”

    I denounce myself.

  8. leigh Says:

    Bitter much, Tina?

  9. vanderleun Says:

    Knowing what Tina applied to get her various positions I guess you could say she was used to striking a blow.

    The is a classic example of, to paraphrase, “The Brown being either at your throat or at your knees.”

  10. Ann Says:

    I wonder if Tina remembers the hostility that greeted her being hired as editor of the New Yorker? And how much she was criticized for turning a venerable magazine into something of a commercial rag? Here are a couple of delicious quotes from her at that time:

    “There’s been a good deal of fakery about The New Yorker, a good deal of snobbery,” she says. “It’s not, after all, successful or good for literature or the arts, or for politics or for intelligent material, if the magazine dwindles into something for a tiny, elitist audience. That was in danger of happening. That’s why I was brought in to change it.

    “What’s happened today is that people won’t read things on blind faith. They need a reason to. They need a blurb that kind of tells them what things are about… Their attention span is shorter, and the demand on their time is difficult now. There’s so much more media, you know, and you have this massively oversubscribed, overbusy reader.”

  11. Don Carlos Says:

    Justice requires that Brown be incarcerated for a long term in a very large holding cell, along with 1000 just like her, with one keyboard and one printer.

    She makes the Duke lacrosse hooker-druggie-liar look attractive. Ugh.

  12. Brian Says:

    Compare the multi-billion dollar losses of investors who were foolhardy enough to trust Tina Brown with their money, to the multi-billions in advertising dollars gained by all major MSM properties, fed by the links chosen by editor of the Internet Matt Drudge over the last 15+ years. Drudge has been the sustainer; Tina Brown the destroyer of media this last generation.

  13. expat Says:

    And then we have Michell O’bama praising Anna Wintour (whose Vogue praised Asma al-Assad just as her husband started killing his citizens). What these “empowered” women in publishing have done to our country is criminal.

  14. Oldflyer Says:

    I am sure that Tina Brown’s thoughts, utterances and writing is important to some people.

    I think that many have learned that the best way to deal with these people is to ignore them. Then their ability to inflict their opinions on the public
    shrivels. Despite all pretensions to the contrary, they are money grubbers, just like our Grubber-in-Chief. When the money dries up they tend to lose their voices.

  15. Sam L. Says:

    It’s a haaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrd life, being Queen Bitch and getting your lunch eaten by a nonentity beneath your lack of dignity.

  16. willis Says:

    So how did Tina become so well acquainted with Matt’s apartment? I don’t recall him publishing a blueprint.

  17. Jeff Weimer Says:

    Lewisnky changed the media in one crucial way: It collectively decided to never let any scandal against Democrats gain any traction ever again. For Republicans they would make it up if they had to.

  18. nferguso Says:

    Matt_SE: “ascendant”: look it up. Oopsy.

  19. Mac Says:

    There are some journalists from whom I would accept a criticism of Drudge and many others on the net as sensationalist, superficial, etc. Tina Brown is not one of them.

  20. Emptying the Inbox and (Open Thread) Says:

    […] the media wall protecting Bill Clinton and expose  his immoral peccadilloes to the world.  Neo-neocon gives Brown the appropriate treatment:  hard facts mixed with amusing (and deserved) […]

  21. Velville Says:

    Journalistic integrity, thy name is not “Tina Brown.” If her near-ruin of The New Yorker and other properties are ignored (as she likely desires much as the Clinton, G W Bush, and Obama administrations wish their glaring failures ignored) then we should ask “Why should we ignore them?”
    Why did she give Ms Lewinsky a platform for musings that should not have been newsworthy in the first place? If this as some believe done at the behest of Mrs Clinton the poorly disguised candidate then Ms Brown shows that news is not important to her, journalistic ethics even less so, and only celebrity matters.
    By comparison Drudge is the ideal to which young journalist should aspire.
    What a frightening idea?!?!?

  22. Beverly Says:

    Something has been nibbling at the back of my mind, reading about our Bien Pensants. Something Swiftian. So I found it: the flying Island of Laputa.

    “Gulliver is immediately surrounded by people and notices that they are all quite odd. Their heads are all tilted to one side or the other, with one eye turned inward and the other looking up. Their clothes are adorned with images of celestial bodies and musical instruments. Some of the people are servants, and each of them carries a “flapper” made of a stick with a pig-s bladder tied to the end. Their job is to aid conversation by striking the ear of the listener and the mouth of the speaker at the appropriate times to prevent their masters’ minds from wandering off.

    Gulliver is conveyed to the king, who sits behind a table loaded with mathematical instruments. They wait an hour before there is some opportunity to arouse the king from his thoughts, at which point he is struck with the flapper. The king says something, and Gulliver’s ear is struck with the flapper as well, even though he tries to explain that he does not require such actions. It becomes clear that he and the king cannot speak any of the same languages, so Gulliver is taken to an apartment and served dinner.

    A teacher is sent to instruct Gulliver in the language of the island, and he is able to learn several sentences. He discovers that the name of the island is Laputa, which in their language means “floating island.” A tailor is also sent to provide him with new clothes, and while he is waiting for these clothes, the king orders the island to be moved. It is taken to a point above the capital city of the kingdom Lagado, passing villages along the way and collecting petitions from the king’s subjects by means of ropes sent down to the lands below.

    The language of the Laputans relies heavily on mathematical and musical concepts, as they value these theoretical disciplines above everything. The Laputans despise practical geometry, thinking it vulgar—so much so that they make sure that there are no right angles in their buildings. They are very good with charts and figures but very clumsy in practical matters.

    They practice astrology and dread changes in the celestial bodies. . . .

    Laputa is more complex than Lilliput or Brobdingnag because its strangeness is not based on differences of size but, instead, on the primacy of abstract theoretical concerns over concrete practical concerns in Laputan culture.

    Nonetheless, physical power is just as important in Laputa as it is in Lilliput and Brobdingnag. Here, power is exercised not through physical size but through technology. The government floats over the rest of the kingdom, using technology to gain advantage over its subjects. The floating island is both a formidable weapon and an allegorical image that represents the distance between the government and the people it governs.

    The king is oblivious to the real concerns of the people below—indeed, he has never even been below. The nobility and scientific thinkers of the island are similarly far removed from the people and their concerns, so much so that they need to be aroused from their thoughts and daydreams by their servants.

    The need to regulate when people listen and when they talk by means of such intermediaries as the servants with their pig bladders is absurd, and the mechanized quality of this system demonstrates how nonhuman these people are. Indeed, abstract theory dominates all aspects of Laputan life, from language to architecture to geography.

    We are compelled to wonder whether the Laputans’ rigid adherence to such principles—their disdain for practical geometry, for example, leads them to renounce right angles—limits their society.”

  23. Beverly Says:

    (above from SparkNotes)

    I remembered dimly, as through a mist, reading Gulliver’s Travels in college, and being struck by the absurd desire of the Laputans to literally elevate themselves above the mundane concerns of hoi polloi, as well as the silly image of them traipsing about their island followed by attendants with pigs’ bladders on sticks. Sounds like our current would-be rulers.

  24. Ymarsakar Says:

    Beverly, the thing is, they could not refute right angles and destroy it, without understand base geometry. Thus inevitably, like the Left, they will transform into thought control, not merely right angle destruction.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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