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The New Yorker Radio Hour

Tina Brown on Vanity Fair, the Eighties, and Harvey Weinstein

Tina Brown is a legend in New York publishing. She was barely thirty years old when she was recruited from London to take over a foundering Vanity Fair. Take over she did, becoming one of the power centers of New York culture by bringing together the intellectual world and the celebrity world of entertainment. She later brought enormous change to The New Yorker (including, for the first time, photographs); she launched Talk magazine with Harvey Weinstein; and she helped launch the Daily Beast. Her new book, “The Vanity Fair Diaries, 1983-1992” is a kind of coming-of-age story about a pre-Internet era of unruffled ambition, unlimited budgets, big shoulders, big hair, and fabulous parties. Tina Brown tells David Remnick that her experience with Weinstein, as unpleasant as it was—she found the mogul “bullying [and] duplicitous,” profane and erratic—did not prepare her for the revelations of brutality and intimidation that have been published in The New Yorker and elsewhere. The experience has shaken her. “I have friends who’ve been accused of things who I want instinctively to defend, but I’ve held back,” Brown says. “Because I don’t know what’s coming next. The truth is, you realize you don’t really know anybody.” Plus, the cartoonist Emily Flake on the joys of Rudy’s Bar, where the combo of a shot and a beer costs five bucks. The sense of history and ritual, and the troubles confessed across generations, remind her of church—but at church, Flake points out, “they’re not going to let you sit around for six hours and drink.”

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