At a Girls, Inc. charity luncheon yesterday, CBS President Nina Tassler announced that she would be releasing a collection of essays on feminism. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the book is going to be co-authored by journalist Cynthia Littleton. One little problem: Littleton is the editor in chief of Variety, specifically tasked with covering television. Conflict of interest?
Littleton, who was bumped up to the editor in chief role at the start of 2013, has always written generally favorable coverage of CBS, including a profile on Tassler just last year. Just this month, Littleton penned a larger piece on "CBS' Record Year," giving extremely favorable coverage to CBS, despite the network's public image taking a deserved hit over Chairman Leslie Moonves' bullying tactics in a months-long dispute with Time Warner Cable. Given that the idea to have Littleton co-author Tassler's book was likely formed further back than just three weeks ago, its surprising that Littleton wouldn't disclose her ties to CBS' second in command while "objectively" writing about the network's success.
The book, a collection of essays by mothers in various fields, is being published by Simon & Schuster and is entitled What I Told My Daughter: Raising Feminist Daughters In A Post-Modern Feminist World. A portion of the sale proceeds will be going to Girls, Inc., the writing-focused charity Tassler supports.
It remains to be seen just what tenor Variety's coverage of CBS will take now that Tassler and Littleton's partnership is out in the open, but even if Littleton does the right thing and recuses herself from direct CBS coverage, it's hard to say that an editor-in-chief's close ties to a network won't impact her publication's coverage. The book is set to be released in 2015.