A few weeks ago at a cocktail party to celebrate Harold Ford's new book More Davids Than Goliaths, Daily Intel asked Daily Beast editor Tina Brown about whether she would take the job editing Newsweek now that Jon Meacham is gone. According to Keith Kelly and other media snoops, Brown is "obsessed" with the idea of taking over the struggling newsweekly. But Brown told us at the time: "I'm really happy with my gig at the Beast, you know? I have a wonderful partnership with [financial backer Barry Diller]. I love my staff. So I can't see myself, um, leaving that." That sounded like a "No," to the question of taking over Newsweek. But was it?
This morning Kelly gives voice to some rumors that have been bouncing around the Beast and Newsweek offices for a few weeks now: That Brown might be angling for a merger between the magazine and the website. Writes Kelly:
Speculation is swirling anew that Barry Diller is working on a plan to combine his IAC/InterActiveCorp-owned Daily Beast with the Newsweek digital operations. Such a combination would give both Web operations some critical mass and clear the way for Daily Beast Chairwoman and Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown to oversee the operation as the new editor-in-chief of Newsweek. The speculation, which has been swirling inside The Daily Beast and Newsweek for weeks, was given an extra push recently when Sidney Harman, the 92-year-old stereo-equipment mogul who finalized the deal for the struggling weekly, and IAC Chairman Diller were spotted having drinks together at the Four Seasons in Georgetown.
It's said that even Meacham suggested that Newsweek CEO Tom Ascheim try to get Brown to take over his post, as she is one of the only magazine editors out there who could really raise eyebrows by taking the job. (And Diller, who serves on the board of the Washington Post Company, would have a pretty good idea about Newsweek's finances.) "Of course, drinks at the Four Seasons by two moguls is a long way from a deal," writes Kelly. "But that's often how things start in the media world — and nobody was categorically denying anything yesterday, either." Kelly is selling his intel short — knowing who had drinks together at the Four Seasons is top-notch gossip! In media terms, it's the equivalent of exchanging a promise ring — you know, the kind where you promise not to merge with anyone until there's an official contract, but then you totally do it on the sly beforehand, in the back of your dad's car, because honestly, you're not going to be together forever or even probably more than one year, and you may as well just get your kicks while you can.