Least Surprising News Ever, Media Edition

Via  Peter Lauria at Buzzfeed, Tina Brown and the Daily Beast are parting ways:

According to a source with direct knowledge of the situation, The Daily Beast parent company IAC, owned by media mogul Barry Diller, does not plan to renew [Tina] Brown’s contract when it expires in January.

What might be driving this (not very) unexpected news?  The obvious, as reported in The Atlantic Wire:

At the end of August, AdWeek said The Daily Beast was on track to lose $12 million this year in a report that strongly foreshadowed today’s news….as AdWeek put it, Diller’s “goodwill may be running out.” Diller lost a fortune when IAC bought Newsweek, merged it with the Beast, and then sold it off again. He recently admitted that buying the newsweekly was a “mistake.”



I’ve met Barry Diller all of exactly once, making a presentation to him for a very ill-starred media venture sponsored by another mogul.  He was polite beyond his reputation, perfectly attentive to a project in which he had no interest, and left me with just one impression:  not a man for whom you’d like to lose a pile of bucks.

One thing though — given the record of Tina Brown’s Beast before Diller bought it — what the hell did he expect?  Someday I may rouse myself to write at my usual logorrheaic length about how the failure of the Beast/Newsweek experiment — truly the least surprising possible outcome of that endeavor — is another demonstration (if any were needed) that elite media grasp of modern audiences and the shifting ownership of cultural capital falls somewhere between disastrous and catastrophic.  But today’s not that day (I hear you saying “for which the FSM make us truly grateful” — yah bastids).

But as long as you’re sticking around: one more thing.  My standard first half of a title on a Megan McArdle post is “MM is always wrong part (n).  And that’s true, of course, when it comes to matters pollitical, economic, intellectual, culinary, and pretty much anything to do with the actual stuff of what she writes.  But I have to concede that she has not-terrible career judgment.  I thought she was making a profoundly dumb move when she left the Atlantic for the Beast (unless she was pushed, which would make Tina the more of a sap for offering a damaged brand a soft landing).  But even if it was purely an error for MM to bail on The Atlantic, she was on top of her game when she abandoned the good ship Beast for her current Bloomberg News gig — as I kind of wondered in this post :*

I’m wondering if McArdle’s finely honed survival skills are in play, in which case we may be getting a leading indicator on the prospects for our Beastly friends.

Bye, bye, Tina. You’ll not be missed, but please go away.

*Andrew Sullivan’s turn to self-publishing doesn’t look that bad a move either, even if he hasn’t yet met his numbers.

Image:  Henri Rousseau, The Merry Jesters 1906.

43 replies
  1. 1
    ruemara says:

    I’d love to fail upwards instead of being excellent all the way into the gutter.

  2. 2


    I’d love to fail upwards instead of being excellent all the way into the gutter.

    Yeah, we’d all like that. Unfortunately, most of us chose the wrong parents to make it work.

  3. 3
    Betty Cracker says:

    @ruemara: Well said, and applicable to MM and TB, who are both incompetent, shallow twits who make the world a worse place than they found it.

  4. 4
    Suffern ACE says:

    Well, there’s still Politico. There’s got to be someone out there willing to hire people to do no reporting and write their opinions. It’s how I’m going to supplement my retirement income.

  5. 5
    different-church-lady says:

    Her big failure? Not enough Apple side boob.

  6. 6
    Bobby Thomson says:

    not a man for whom you’d like to lose a pile of bucks.

    Supposedly the inspiration for C. Montgomery Burns.

  7. 7
    Doug Milhous J says:

    We kill the beast, kill it.

  8. 8
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Why hasn’t this dizzy, incompetent broad been told to go look for a job that is more her speed, one where she asks people “do you want fries with that?”

    Oh…right. In the club. Once you’re in the club, unless you steal from the rich ala Madoff, you get free passes on incompetence. Just ask the deserting coward or Carly Fiorina…

  9. 9
    Mary G says:

    @Doug Milhous J: I missed the thread in which you announced your engagement, so belated congratulations.

    Also, too, I recommend Marc Cohn’s “True Companion” as a song at your wedding:

    Baby I’ve been searching like everybody else
    Can’t say nothing different about myself
    Sometimes I’m an angel and sometimes I’m cruel
    But when it comes to love I’m just another fool

    Yes I’ve climbed a mountain
    I’m gonna swim the sea
    There ain’t no act of God, girl
    Could keep you safe from me
    My arms are reaching out,
    out across this canyon

    I’m asking you to be my true companion
    True companion
    True companion

    So don’t you dare and try to walk away
    I’ve got my heart set on our wedding day
    I’ve got this vision of a girl in white
    Made my descision that its you alright
    When I take your hand, I watch my heart set sail
    I’ll take my trembling fingers, and I’ll lift up your veil
    Then I’ll take you home and with wild abandon
    Make love to you just like a true companion
    You are my true companion
    I got a true companion
    Whoa true companion

    When the years have done irreparable harm
    I can see us walking slowly arm in arm,
    Just like that couple on the corner do
    Cause girl I will always be in love with you
    When I look in your eyes, I still see that spark
    Until the shadows fall, until the room grows dark

    Then when I leave this earth I’ll be with the angels standing
    I’ll be out there waiting for my true companion
    Just for my true companion
    True companion
    True companion

  10. 10

    @Doug Milhous J:

    We kill the beast, kill it.

    Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!

  11. 11

    How long was she there? Like three months or something? This seems really quick, but then again, her record of failure is decades long.

  12. 12
    srv says:

    MM, w00t, next stop the NYT!

  13. 13
    Joshua Norton says:

    Needz moar Zombie Princess Di.

  14. 14
    raven says:

    @ruemara: Hi, I hope you had a better day today.

  15. 15
    kindness says:

    I suspect that The Daily Beast did not use McArgleBargles preferred countertops or blenders. So she bailed.

    Let me say that I do hope NPR now stops using Tina Brown as a regular person. Of course I say the same thing about Cokie Roberts and have seen no movement my way from NPR management to date…Such is life.

  16. 16
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    What a difference a source makes! Your Buzzfeed link sure makes it sound as though Tina’s being forced out. But Politico makes it sound as though it’s completely her decision and timing. (BTW, of the two, I’ll go with Buzzfeed.)

    Daily Beast editor Tina Brown will split with parent-company IAC next year and launch her own company, Tina Brown Live Media, according to sources with knowledge of her plans.

    Brown will not renew her contract in January, the sources said. The contract negotiations have been going on for the last few months, according to a source familiar with the discussions, and the split has been a “long time coming.”

    “(Tina Brown Live Media) is really a marriage of her commitment to journalism and story telling, its going to be really event orientated,” the source said, adding it will expand on Brown’s Women in the World conferences and will put together other events such as flash debates.

  17. 17

    I need to curtail my mcmeg trolling on the twitters. I now have the “indie blogger cooking up fresh ideas with the #Thermomix” following me. sadface.

  18. 18
    Tom Levenson says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: “You can’t fire me! I quit!”

    I’m sure Brown won’t go wondering where her next meal is coming from…but going from being a major editor to a conference promoter is not usually one’s preferred move. (Unless you found TED.) On balance, I’m going with the Diller-had-enough line.

  19. 19
    raven says:

    @Tom Levenson: She reminds me of Phyllis Diller!

  20. 20
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Forgot to include Politico link, with obligatory warning that the Politico link will link you to Politico.

    (The comments over there are pretty funny, though. Did you know that all liberals think Tina Brown is genius?)

  21. 21
    Jamey says:

    Fuck Sullivan again. In his pathetic “give the gift of stupid” bleg, he block quotes subscriber’s comments … BECAUSE HE DOESN’T HAVE THE STONES TO FACE THEM IN COMMENT THREADS.

    I love the Sully paywall because it means that I can count on at least 29 Sully-free days a month. But, oh, that 30th day…

    ps: A very special 9/11 “Fuck You” to the little Limey twat from all of us coastal fifth-columnists.


  22. 22
    beltane says:

    This is OT, but my son is being made to read David Brooks’ The Social Animal for his 1tth grade English class. One of the assignments is to write an essay illustrating one of the themes of the book, but he says this would best be done by drawing a picture of a pen1s and handing that in instead. He assures me his drawing would be very detailed and well-executed, but I don’t think this will get him a good grade in the class. Thank FSM I didn’t have to read things like this when I was in high school.

  23. 23
    IowaOldLady says:

    @beltane: Geez. Whatever happened to making them read Silas Marner?

  24. 24
    PurpleGirl says:

    Diller lost money on IAC… good, great, fantastic. I’ve despised him ever since he didn’t renew Alien Nation.

  25. 25
    James E. Powell says:

    Never understood the hating Tina Brown thing. I guess I don’t know enough about her.

  26. 26
    Amir Khalid says:

    I browsed a copy of The Social Animal at the bookstore; I discovered that there is a writer of prose even more inept than Dan Brown, and his name is David Brooks.

  27. 27
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    I’m sure Brown Lady Evans won’t go wondering where her next meal is coming from

    Fixed for bettah aristocraticnessdom.

  28. 28
    Amir Khalid says:

    That was a brilliant TV show, way better than the movie.

  29. 29
    NonyNony says:

    I thought she was making a profoundly dumb move when she left the Atlantic for the Beast (unless she was pushed, which would make Tina the more of a sap for offering a damaged brand a soft landing).

    Now hold on there – just because McArdle offers ill-informed, poorly written opinion, it doesn’t mean she has a “damaged brand”. Let’s think about “Brand McArdle” here for a minute – “ill-informed, poorly written, self-obsessed opinion that brings the eyeballs to your site because she has a small following of devoted worshippers and a larger following of people linking to her to argue about how stupid her opinion is”.

    As such you can easily see how “Brand McArdle” might be damaged goods for The Atlantic (bringing their overall brand down) while being right in line with Tina’ Brown’s Daily Beast brand (or even a step up, all things considered). Her ability to jump ship to Bloomberg is a bit surprising, but again – she draws the eyeballs. And if you’re selling advertising and opinion is just one piece of your overall brand, who cares if the opinions are indefensible.

    (Honestly – I expect to see her as a regular contributor to the Editorial page of the Wall Street Journal before I die. Ill-informed opinion telling plutocrats exactly what they want to hear? That’s also part of Brand McArdle and pretty much the ENTIRE brand of the WSJ editorial page. It’s a perfect fit, and I assume that they’re just waiting for her to reach the right age to have the “gravitas” to be a contributor. And probably for one of their regulars to either die or come down with an expensive to treat illness that turns them into a raging proponent of socialized medicine…)

  30. 30
    beltane says:

    @IowaOldLady: @Amir Khalid: My son’s teacher isn’t happy about having to assign the book either. No doubt it was included in the curriculum at the behest of an NPR-listening “liberal” school administrator. I guess actual literature is something to be shunned in high schools these days.

  31. 31
    jayjaybear says:

    Someone here (I think either mistermix or Doug J) once called Brown “the Jack Kevorkian of journalism”, which I will happily admit that I’ve co-opted for my own use more than once since then.

  32. 32
    Haydnseek says:

    @James E. Powell: You haven’t missed a thing. I despise what she did to The New Yorker when she was at the controls there. I used to think that her continued presence on the media landscape was one of life’s enduring mysteries, but then I took a closer look at said landscape and saw that it was nothing more than vast smoking craters of mendacity as far as the eye could see. As for McMegan, she should be stuffed into a custom made barrel fashioned out of the finest aged oak, and preserved in pink Himalayan salt as a warning to future generations should they decide to crawl into the diseased bed of the courtier media.

  33. 33
    West of the Rockies says:

    I pretty much stopped clicking on the Beast when Frum left. I was not a huge fan of David Frum, but he struck me as one of the few conservatives who at least acknowledged what a steaming turd his party had become.

  34. 34
    cokane says:


    MM, w00t, next stop the NYT!

    Sad, but true tale. I have little doubt NYT might want her a few years or a decade down the road.

  35. 35
    StringOnAStick says:


    Let me say that I do hope NPR now stops using Tina Brown as a regular person. Of course I say the same thing about Cokie Roberts and have seen no movement my way from NPR management to date…Such is life.

    Here, here! I admit to listening to less and less NPR and doing more and more online, but hearing Tina Brown on NPR last week nearly made me gag. My thought was “why have this brand-slayer on?”, and then I realized oh, right, the project to kill NPR one crappy story/one crappy commentator continues apace.

  36. 36
    dedc79 says:

    Tina Brown and Joe Trippi – they’re in two very different businesses but for both of them, wherever they go and whatever they do, it doesn’t end up well. Yet time and again people keep throwing money/opportunities their way.

  37. 37
    sm*t cl*de says:

    her commitment to journalism and story telling
    Readers want narratives, not boring stuff like facts.

  38. 38
    Tara the Antisocial Social Worker says:

    I’m old enough to remember when Newsweek occasionally contained news. After its relaunch, the cover story – “how the recession has been extra-tough on white men” – pretty much told me everything I needed to know.

  39. 39
    Daniel says:

    If Evelyn Waugh were alive, he would laugh with a sneer. How dare this absurd pretender (Brown) try and and sex us up with her “Scoop” appropriation. As always, Waugh has the last laugh. Don’t know what I am writing about, look it up.

  40. 40
    Manyakitty says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: So that will be her newer version of Huffpo? Similar attention to bad science and tabloid fodder, with the Beast’s porno fixation?

  41. 41
    Tripod says:

    @Tara the Antisocial Social Worker:

    Beats what US News has become: …oh dear, Arizona State? tsk, tsk…

  42. 42
    Tripod says:

    That Amazon guy is going to find out what Diller now knows, and at a much higher cost.

  43. 43
    Brandon says:

    @Jamey: The amazing thing to me about Sullivan is how successful he has been in his career getting people to give him money. I remember his early days when he would have a “pledge drive” or whatever he called it and would eff off on vacation for 3 weeks after picking up $40k or something like that.

    It absolutely shocks the conscience that he requires a “budget” of $900k to run his site. I am not sure if he has disclosed an itemized list of expenditures, but I am pretty sure $500k of that is probably his own salary.

    He’s a cretin of dubious ethics and morality, but I must at least stand in awe of his money grubbing skills.

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