JOURNALISTS VOTE, JUST NOT IN PUBLIC: The Plaza primary took place, fittingly, in the Grand Ballroom, over dessert. It was so dubbed by The New Yorker articles editor Susan Morrison, who was presiding over a luncheon for the anthology she edited, “Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary,” and it happened at the request of her colleague, Hendrik Hertzberg, who wondered how a room of noted women writers and their guests might vote in the Democratic primary. (No Republicans came forward.) New Yorker editor in chief David Remnick and his tablemate, Carl Bernstein, CNN commentator and author of a Hillary Clinton biography, tactfully abstained. “I think I know how David would have voted,” Morrison said later, “but I’m not going to say.”
The book was published this week and includes essays from Susan Orlean, Leslie Bennetts, Daphne Merkin and Robin Givhan, among others. (Givhan revisits her notorious “cleavage” essay in the book, and was cheerful at the lunch. “Go ahead and say it! Say the C word. Cleavage!”)
Back to the ballot. Like many recent elections, the results were in dispute, but one thing was clear: John Edwards got just one vote (a white male, natch), and Morrison’s rule demanding that undecided lunchers vote anyway was either unheard or ignored. But as for how many people raised their hands for either Clinton or Barack Obama, no one could say for sure afterward: “My impression was that Obama had a slight edge,” Hertzberg wrote in an e-mail, “but my impressions tend to be within the margin of error.” Bernstein called it a rough tie, and Morrison (who put up a hand for Clinton) and Remnick saw more Clintonites. Thirty ways of looking at a Plaza primary? — Irin Carmon
EAGER WORDS: The sudden death of Heath Ledger took many by surprise — including most of the celebrity weeklies that closed this week’s issues before it could report the news of his death. But Star found one way to keep relevant as details of Ledger’s passing emerged — having editorial director Bonnie Fuller blog about the young star’s death on The Huffington Post, and then link to Star’s Web site “for more coverage of Heath’s life and tragic death.” Even more aggressive than her cross-promotion is Fuller’s assumption the young star died by suicide before an autopsy even began. Fuller wrote: “None of his gifts, neither talent nor family, appears to have been enough to combat the demons that apparently led Heath to take the pills that could have ended his young life.” But an autopsy Wednesday morning was inconclusive, and authorities have not committed to suicide as cause of death. “The way I wrote it, I didn’t mean to say definitively that it was suicide at all. I felt like I left it open,” Fuller told WWD.
This story first appeared in the January 24, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Commenters on The Huffington Post think Fuller jumped the gun. “I am assuming that some people who are paid to write will write almost anything to get something out there. Bonnie Fuller, hopefully, will read all of these comments and learn a lesson about sensationalizing the death of someone she doesn’t even know,” wrote commenter PatA. “Bonnie Fuller: tacky tacky tacky,” wrote another, ParadiseDiva. And ellezeebub responded to Fuller: “Couldn’t wait to see if there was something else going on — had to go with the ‘demons’ of his personal conflict. What demons?….Of course, you wouldn’t be able to turn much of a buck on that story.” Star, In Touch, Life & Style and Us Weekly won’t likely make much on the Ledger news. The only celebrity weekly that features Ledger as its cover story is People, which closed its issue Tuesday night. — Stephanie D. Smith