The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, November 13, 2003  

The Queen of Buzz is Just Plain Out of It

Tina Brown, formerly of Talk, the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and some British magazine the name of which nobody important any longer remembers, is now ensconced, precariously I’ll bet, at the Washington Post, taking a weekly paycheck (How humiliating!) as a reporter, columnist, or hanger-on, or something, despite the fact she neither resides in, nor spends much of her undoubtedly ample free in, our nation’s capital.

One would think Brown, having been already (somewhat) privately trashed by at least one of the Post’s top guns, would clean up her act, shore up her prose, and perhaps muster even a token effort at relevance.

Alas, though not surprisingly, she has failed on all three points with her latest contribution to the Post: “Martha’s TV Testimony Draws a Split Verdict,” a review, I suppose one would call it, of Martha Stewart’s recent interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters, published today.

Brown’s piece is prototypically insipid, differing little from the hackneyed but all-too-cleverly varied paeans and trashings of this or that celebrity of the moment -- or of days gone by -- that brought her the completely unwarranted praise that propelled her career to obscene heights, and the entirely deserved harsh criticism that likewise brought it crashing back down again.

Worse, Brown’s latest Post article is, at various points, downright offensive. According to Brown, Stewart committed two “gaffes” during the interview, one of which the Brit-who-never-edited-a-profitable-American-magazine-in-her-life (Brown being just one of several members of this particular, and thankfully endangered, tribe) outlined as follows:

Gaffe Two was when [Walters] asked [Stewart] if there was anything she couldn’t do and Martha replied with rueful exasperation: “Oh, Barbara! I can’t fly a jet! I can’t hang glide!” Wrong answer. Right moment to have talked tearfully about any culpability she could muster for the failure of her 27-year marriage. Andy Stewart didn’t just leave Martha for a younger woman. He left her for her own personal assistant -- an unacceptable double whammy.

Excuse me? What’s with this gratuitous and mean-spirited insult? The end of the marriage is Martha Stewart’s fault? She is solely to blame? Andy Stewart’s character and behavior on this matter aren’t, at the very least, questionable? He doesn’t have more “culpability” to “muster” than does Martha?

How sad. I mean, what an absurd little world Brown lives in. Moral relativism “indeed,” as some are wont to say. Besides, can’t Brown get even an obvious joke? Gee whiz, how out of it is this reputed cultural arbiter anyway?

Hell, match Brown against Stewart in front of a jury -- any random group of 12 people -- and I have no doubt which woman would emerge the victor: The one who has built several successful businesses and who was, until this latest kerfluffle (Hey, thanks, Paul Gigot!), rightly considered one of the most respected businesswomen in America.

Please, Tina, if you’re reading this, don’t go away mad, just . . .

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