Brill’s Contempt

The Media Watchdog Has No Teeth

Given that six women got laid off, two staffers detected further evidence of allegedly preexisting male chauvinism. "It's most certainly a place where men have thrived over women," said one. A male staffer added that it's a "sign of the culture" that the place is dominated by "big-swinging dick types," that is, swaggering men who are highly confident of their talent.

Inevitably, talk turned to the fate of the bosses. Said one staffer, "There's an unofficial pool on when [Effron] and [Kuhn] will leave." It's widely believed that Kuhn, who knows how to package a narrative but is no expert on media business, will bail. "Here's a guy who wanted to take Brill's from being too insidery and turn it into a cultural vehicle," says one source. Says another, "Now he finds himself at essentially a trade magazine, which is not really David's style."

Office gossips have two theories about Effron. One has it that "there's a bullet with his name on it," because he now has four bosses; the other holds that he will be protected, because he's been loyal to Brill.

Finally, no one tires of discussing the big man's psychology. "Brill's Content was never cool," says one staffer, and now Brill would rather be the "popular kid" than the "class bully." According to this source, "Steve wanted not only to do 'gotcha' [journalism], but wanted people to care."

Of course, Brill's desire to be liked may not extend to ex-staffers. "I respect him," says one, "but I don't know that I want to work for him again. I don't think you can count on not having the rug pulled out from under you."

Another departing staffer scorns Brill for abandoning the role of press critic, when the boss had long maintained that the magazine was operating on a five-year plan. "The truth is that he was hypocritical!" says this source. "He made it sound like it was a real jihad on his part."

Brill declined to comment.

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