In a special Daily Beast article called “Hollywood’s Most Threatening Blog,” Kim Masters explains why Variety and the Los Angeles Times have so much to lose in their battle to bring down Deadline Hollywood Daily’s Nikki Finke. But Masters reporting doesn’t suggest, much less contend, that the Times is trying to wound or disparage Finke. Her piece is pretty much a gender-war-barricades attack upon Variety editor Peter Bart, whom she calls an “old-media dinosaur” who “doesn’t get it.”
Finke “has broken some controversial stories in Hollywood, so it’s not surprising to see her become one herself,” Masters begins. “This weekend, Variety launched an extraordinary three-pronged attack that was ostensibly aimed at blogging in general but clearly was aimed at [Finke] in particular.
“The package included a column by Bart under the headline ‘Hollywood’s Blog Smog‘ that bemoans the fact that blogs are sometimes used as weapons of intimidation by players in the industry who know how to manipulate them.
“Then there was a Cynthia Littleton article that seemed to be little more than an extension of Bart’s editorial; the headline — ‘Tempest of the Toldja! Journalists‘ — was clearly aimed at Finke because a screaming ‘TOLDJA!!’ in her headlines is one of her signatures. ‘
“Bart’s coordinated attack — indeed the whole whiny Variety package — sounds too much like the enraged cry of an old-media dinosaur trying to defend what’s left of its terrain.
“Whatever Finke may have to say about Variety, Bart did a lot to damage himself in one of the closing paragraphs of his column. He allows that he admires Finke’s energy and dedication while bemoaning ‘her dissing of fellow news gatherers, her personal vendettas and her use of intimidation.’ And then he continues: ‘She once attended Miss Hewitt’s classes in New York, which taught upscale girls how to be warm and cuddly. I’d like her to take a warm-and-cuddly refresher course.’
“If that line doesn’t show how profoundly Bart just doesn’t get it, it’s hard to imagine what would.”
In other words, if Finke was a guy — some kind of tough-talking, finger-poking Walter Winchell-like internet gunslinger — Bart would never have written about how he needs to watch his manners or be more respectul of his elders.
Update: Finke posted a response to the brouhaha at 2:32 pm, or six minutes ago. She discloses that on 2.27 Variety president/publisher Neil Stiles “called me saying Reed Business Information CEO Tad Smith was pushing him to discuss an acquisition of my site.” But the deal was dead two days later, she says, because Bart heard about it third-hand (from Variety-hosted columnist Anne Thompson) and threw a fit over “not [being] consulted by his overlords about the overture.”