NEW YORK — The most pugnacious editor’s letter page, hands down, belongs to Greg Gutfeld, editor in chief of Stuff magazine, which has a 1.1 million circulation. Gutfeld — who boasted, “I use my magazine for revenge,” in his July editor’s letter — has introduced a new sidebar on his August letter page called the “Stuff Summary,” where he takes jabs at his colleagues in the media world.
The debut item is a cartoon mockery of Ken Auletta’s interview with New York Times executive editor Howell Raines, which ran in the June 10 issue of the New Yorker. In Gutfeld’s rendition, Auletta rains a deluge of praise on Raines, who simply grunts assent to each flattering remark. The two media honchos, rendered in the comic strip as fat, bald men, then cuddle up together on the beach to watch the sunset in nothing but their Speedos.
“We wanted the cartoon to express a central truth about the New Yorker article — basically that it was an act of total brown-nosing on Auletta’s part,” Gutfeld told WWD. “Everyone I know who read that New Yorker piece was like, ‘Why do I feel so dirty?’ And the answer is because it reeks of influence peddling.”
Gutfeld then launched into a characteristic Dennis Publishing rant against the Media Establishment. “That New Yorker piece typifies what you find in these older magazines, where people just pat each other on the back endlessly.” Gutfeld is planning at least three more installments of the “Stuff Summary,” where he will take aim at other articles that sickened him. “I’ll definitely be addressing that pretentious Vanity Fair profile of Benjamin Bratt,” he warned.
Gutfeld claimed to have “no clue” whether Raines or Auletta read his poisoned-pen comic. “If Howell Raines knew about Stuff, it would no longer be cool to work for Stuff. As for the New Yorker, I don’t ever want to work at Condé Nast, and they don’t want me either. Basically, we’re just doing this because it makes us feel good.”
Auletta claimed no knowledge of Gutfeld’s stunt until told of it. Upon reading the comic, Auletta said: “I’m glad the guy has a day job as a writer/editor, because he’s not about to put comic artists out of work anytime soon. I thought it was kind of lame — I wanted it to be funnier.”
This story first appeared in the July 26, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Rebel that he is, Gutfeld still didn’t go quite as far as he would have liked. “In the original version, both Raines and Auletta were naked.”