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Harmonizing Harman

Jon MeachamHis big-ideas magazine didn’t fly, then he bowed out. Fareed Zakaria Harman wanted him badly, but TV beckoned. Tina Brown She remade two legendary titles, but Newsweek will sink or swim without her. Terry McDonell With Brown out, the Sports Illustrated Group editor was Harman’s first lunch.

Photographs: From Left, Brendan Smialowski/Getty images; Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty images; Newscom (2)

In Harman’s office, the tour through his underappreciated past had ended. The room was momentarily quiet. Harman looks great, perhaps twenty years younger than he is; he exercises daily—he recommends “crunches” to the many who ask. Harman long ago learned to defuse questions about his age with humorhe bought Newsweek to put an end to a misspent youth, he quipped. Still, the subject is unavoidable, and so I asked if the actuarial tables ever sadden him. The question annoyed him. “I know damned well I don’t have the affect of 92 years,” he said, waving off the subject, “the way I move, the way I act, the way I talk.”

A key to his vigor are genes—his mother lived to 98—but another is Newsweek. “It keeps me alive and curious,” he told me, another step in his life’s journey. “It permits me to experience a more expanded, integrated, synthesized life.” With a vision like that, who needs Tina Brown?

Harman pulled a cell phone out of his pocket and arranged a taxi for me, politely but firmly ushering me out. He had work to do.

“Some might say Newsweek is a … What’s the word that always escapes me? What’s the word for the extinct animal, the giant Laplatasaurus?”

“Dinosaur?” I said.

“Why can’t I remember the word dinosaur?”

Then he was off again, leading me through the sculpture garden, talking about Newsweek’s glorious future, and his own.


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