What next for Tina, the queen of New York?

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The Independent Online
Just as China-watchers study speeches in the People's Daily for clues about the Chinese ruling elite, so has the New York and London media scene pored over recent pronouncements from the world's most-gossiped about editor.

Tina Brown, editor of the New Yorker, and with former Sunday Times editor Harry Evans part of media's most glamorous couple, has dropped her usual reticence to drop hints that she may, and may not, be on the move.

In January she gave a very valedictory interview to the People's Daily- equivalent of the New York ruling class - the advertising-free Public Broadcasting Service.

On her fifth anniversary atNew Yorker she listed her achievements - in raising the magazine's circulation and updating its pool of writing talent - in a tone that stayed largely in the past tense. It offered little for the future but a sense of a job completed. "I think all we want to do now is just keep on with this quality and keep on raising the bar," she said.

Then this week's New Yorker finds her writing - something she does extremely rarely - like a besotted teenager about Tony Blair and Bill Clinton after attending their soiree at the White House last week. Mr Clinton she describes thus: "His height, his sleekness, his newly-cropped iron-filing hair, and the the intensity of his blue eyes project a kind of avid inclusiveness that encircles every jaded celebrity he passes."

Tony Blair has an "elfin glow" and Cherie shoots him "The ardent look [that] still has the undergraduate complicity of `Darling, we made it didn't we?'"

Brown-watchers attribute this increased profile to the decision of the New Yorker's millionaire owner, Si Newhouse Jr, to bring the weekly, and its finances, under the direct control of his magazine company Conde Nast.

One scenario has Brown returning to Britain to edit the ailing Blairite Observer - which could explain the journalistic onanism about the Blairs in her New Yorker article. And she was recently seen with the Observer's editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger at the fashionable La Caprice restaurant in London. Previous rumours had her becoming British ambassador to Washington.

One close friend thinks the Observer option doubtful: "She is probably on at least $1m a year at the New Yorker. Si Newhouse is believed to contribute to her and Harry's rather lovely Sutton Place apartment. I find it hard to believe she would give that up for Farringdon Road [home of the Observer]."

And yet the rumours persist. "Some say rather wickedly that the stories originate from Tina herself, just to keep up the lustre," says the friend. "But I would never believe that."

Tina on Bill

Tina Brown on Bill Clinton: "Absurdly deboinar ... His height, his sleekness, his newly-cropped, iron-filing hair, and the intensity of his blue eyes project a kind of avid inclusiveness."

Tina on Tony "His slight figure and youthful purposefulness give him an air of a clever, unsullied young cousin of Clinton's, visiting from across the water."

Tina on Cherie

Tina Brown on Cherie Blair: "The ardent look that Cherie Blair shoots him [Tony] still has the undergraduate complicity of `Darling, we made it, didn't we?'"

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