Newsweek and Jane Harman: It’s Complicated!

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Representative Jane Harman, D-CA, speaks at a House Committee on Homeland Security hearing on “Understanding the Homeland Threat Landscape - Considerations for the 112th Congress.”  February 9, 2011 in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Harman is resigning her position as a member of the House of Representative to head the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Photo: MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images/AFP

Former congresswoman Jane Harman is in the New York Times Magazine hot seat this weekend and spends most of the interview not discussing her political career but talking Newsweek, the long-struggling magazine her late billionaire husband Sidney Harman saved just before his death last year. In July, the Harman family announced they'd stopped investing in the title, the same week Harman hosted a party at her home in Aspen for editor Tina Brown, and that potential for awkwardness persists.

Asked about the reception to Newsweek's sexy asparagus cover, Harman cuts off the query and says, "No, I didn't have that reaction, but I prefer political covers to food covers. Next question."

Moving on to the Niall Ferguson mess, she notes, "I'm smart enough to keep my views about Tina Brown's editorial choices to myself. I'm not vouching for the accuracy of this article, but I'm not going to pile on." But then she gets mad at interviewer Andrew Goldman when he admits he doesn't even read the magazine. "That hurts," Harman says, but Brown might feel similarly about all these mixed messages.