Hillary Clinton wasn't the only woman to suffer an unexpected setback in the Democratic primary. Her biographer, magazine publishing doyenne Tina Brown, is left without the inauguration that would have been such a compelling finale-and recompense for the discomforts of the campaign trail. But the former Vanity Fair editor claimed to the biddies on The View this morning that Hillary's defeat gave her story a more interesting "arc"-and there may be some truth to that. The fallen Queen of Buzz identifies with the former First Lady even more than one would imagine; and a bitter-sweet ending has a certain resonance, as you'll see.
Tina Brown's fascination with Hillary Clinton is longstanding. In Tina and Harvey come to America, Judy Bachrach writes how the magazine editor saw in Hillary's life her own marriage to a powerful and philandering man, Harry Evans, and the vast conspiracies she faced when she took the helm at one hostile Conde Nast title after another.
"More and more, it was noticed, Tina found her self identifying with Hillary Clinton and her travails," writes Bachrach. "It wasn't simply the imperfections of marriage that united them, although here Tina clearly empathized. It was the animosity-cataclysmic in its ease of ignition-that both women managed almost effortlessly to arouse. Some of this derived from their ability to alienate friends and associates."
The launch issue of Tina Brown's biggest flop, Talk magazine, splashed with Hillary Opens Up, an profile the former First Lady, then gearing up for her Senate race. Talk's editor-in-chief not only tried to insert comparisons between Clinton and Lady Diana, yet another woman who grabbed the spotlight from a more powerful husband; colleagues again saw in editorial meetings about the article Brown's very personal obsession with Clinton's trajectory. Said one: "She is so obviously talking to you about herself in the guise of Hillary... Everything talked about is strangely associative: in her mind, Hillary is Tina."
Since the collapse of Talk, Tina Brown and her husband have faded from view. Her biography of Lady Diana has been a success; but it's the last performance of an old circus act. Her talk show, Topic A, never picked up much of an audience; her interests are those of a disconnected Manhattan elite too narrow to sustain ratings. (Ironic, because Brown was once seen as the mass-market debaucher of stories magazine titles. Hillary Clinton herself once declared: "Tina Brown is the junk food of journalism.")
But her personal disappointments may give 55-year-old Tina Brown an insight into Hillary Clinton's. Now the Democratic candidate's story still more perfectly mirrors her own.
Take the legendary magazine editor's spin on ABC this morning. "The fact that Hillary didn't make it is in a way it's more interesting. It would have been harder for me if the book had come out in the middle of the first term. This way there is a 16-year period which we can honestly call the Clinton era. There is an arc to the story now. There is now a beginning, a middle and a closing to it, which to me makes it a more intensely plotted drama."
And now take the blurb of Bachrach's book on Tina Brown and her husband. "This rich, fast-paced story of Tina Brown and Harry Evans is not only a brilliant account of two media stars but also a tale of how this British couple molded and shaped every aspect of the American publishing world-until it inevitably turned on them." Snap.