In today's Observer, new media reporter Felix Gillette gives Tina Brown a chance to do take-backs on having Roseanne Barr guest-edit that infamous issue of the New Yorker. "Frankly, the ideas, I didn't like them," Tina says. And of celebrity guest-editors: "They don't know how to get it right, any more than I would know how to commission a bunch of songs. As an editing idea, it's fraught with road kill." Funnily enough, we just talked to Roseanne about this the other day. And even though she doesn't see it the same way, she really didn't have anything nice to say either!
What was it like when Tina Brown asked you to edit an issue of the New Yorker?
Roseanne: The editing part was fantastic—picking Amy Sedaris to write the back page, that was the first big thing she did. Mary Daly, we assigned her an article; we talked about unionizing hotel workers in Las Vegas, with Acorn; I'm still involved with Acorn. They let me bring my favorite women and subjects and let me put it in the most prestigious publication in America. The ripple that it caused in New York City—it was very devastating and I took a big step back. Maureen Dowd in the New York Times just attacked me and called me low-rent and confused me with Roseanne Connnor. Two or three writers quit, specifically Jamaica Kincaid, an African American woman, and I was like, what's up with that? They thought I was Roseanne Connor. In the end, it's because I was working class and those guys are snobs. And they don't like working class people. And they don't like that they may have to pay their maid more. They don't want to elevate any working class point of view. The closest they get is Barbara Ehrenreich, one of the elite talking about what it's like to be working poor. They don't want any working poor, women, or feminists. Unless it's looking back and patting them on the head, because America's built on class, even more than race. And with that I'll have more Russian vodka and caviar and blinis.
And then she did.