NO BARBS HELD: At a Monday lunch sponsored by the American Society of Magazine Editors, Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens did what everyone seemed to expect, even hope, he would do: He insulted everyone in the room — many of whom made him a finalist for their Ellie award this year, some of whom dole out his paychecks. He compared the unanimous vote for ASME’s new officers to that of North Korea’s, and, asked about reaction to his arguing that women aren’t funny, replied that he’d heard from plenty of “humorless bitches.” (One ASME board member, who insisted she “loved” Hitchens’ talk, remarked afterward, “This humorless bitch has to get back to work.”) Onstage interviewer and Slate editor in chief Jacob Weisberg read selections from the Ellie-nominated profile of Hitchens in The New Yorker, then asked him how his support of the Iraq war affected his relationship with Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter, a vocal opponent of it. “The fact that most of my comrades in the media can’t get [Iraq] right is not my fault,” Hitchens said. A lone audience member — perhaps two — clapped.
The habitually quotable Hitchens later glared out into the audience of editors and said, “Not one of you, I think, printed the Danish cartoon. Shame on all of you….Nobody lived up to the elementary responsibility of journalism.” Speaking generally about religious fundamentalism and the personal risk his new book, “God Is Not Great,” might pose, Hitchens said, “We all make a comfortable living out of the First Amendment, and give ourselves prizes every year for doing it. Well, you have to pay the First Amendment back [by fighting for it]….It’s not my living. It’s my life. I did not come to this country to be taught how to keep my mouth shut.” The British-born Hitchens also announced proudly that he had recently become an American citizen, saying, “I’ve been waiting to say this for weeks: ‘my fellow Americans.'”
Perhaps the most telling moment was when Hitchens recalled being asked to CNN’s New York studio to talk about atheism. Just before departing, he heard about “that fat slut who had died — I can’t remember her name.” Anna Nicole Smith, the crowd piped up. “Yes, that fat slut,” he repeated. “I thought, ‘Well, I’m not going to be on TV now. Should I still let them pay for me to come to New York? Yes.'” And will he still allow those First Amendment-complacent editors to anoint him tonight? It’s safe to say the answer is the same. — Irin Carmon
This story first appeared in the May 1, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
NEW GANG: As for that aforementioned vote for officers, the American Society of Magazine Editors reelected Glamour editor in chief Cynthia Leive president, and added six new editors to its board: Latina’s Betty Cortina, Self’s Lucy Danziger, AARP The Magazine’s Hugh Delehanty, Good Housekeeping’s Rosemary Ellis, Money’s Eric Schurenberg and Departures’ Richard David Story. Texas Monthly’s Evan Smith has stepped down as vice president, and Elle editor in chief Roberta Myers has been elected in his place. New York magazine’s Adam Moss will be secretary, and David Willey, editor in chief of Runner’s World, will be treasurer. — I.C.
NEW FACE: So you can pep up a dowager after all. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that individually paid and total subscriptions are up, 4.5 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively, since the newspaper’s redesign in January. The Audit Bureau of Circulations March 2007 FAS-FAX statement, also released Monday, has individual subscriptions climbing 3.3 percent, although they did not achieve the 9.2 percent rise reported for the previous six-month period ended in September 2006. A Dow Jones spokesman said the latest ABC report marked three consecutive periods of growth, adding that “no one has the same track record.”
ABC shows The New York Times’ daily circulation down 1.9 percent and Tribune Co.’s Los Angeles Times’ falling 4.2 percent; the Chicago Tribune’s daily circulation declined 2.1 percent. Back in New York, News Corp.’s New York Post’s daily circulation jumped 7.6 percent, trumping the New York Daily News, which grew by 1.3 percent. — Amy Wicks
BRINGING BACK: Hearst Magazines and Hoffman Media, which publishes a magazine with Food Network personality Paula Deen, said Friday the companies had formed a joint venture to resurrect Victoria, a women’s title that focused on “romantic living.” Hearst published the magazine from 1987 to 2003 for women who, according to the company, “recognize the importance of beauty and manners and traditions in daily life.” This time, Victoria will be under the direction of Hoffman, which also publishes Southern Lady, Tea Time and Taste of the South. Hoffman will handle all editorial, advertising, production and distribution of the title from its Birmingham, Ala., headquarters; Hearst will contribute the Victoria trademark, copyright, the Web site URL, victoriamag.com, subscription database and access to historical content of both editorial and art. Victoria will publish bimonthly beginning with a November/December issue; Hoffman’s goal is to have a 250,000 rate base after two issues. — Stephanie D. Smith