CAVE MEN: There was a collective shudder among journalists in New York on Thursday, after Time Inc. agreed to produce a reporter’s notes subpoenaed in connection with the Valerie Plame investigation. On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to reconsider a lower court’s rulings against Time White House correspondent Matt Cooper and The New York Times’ Judith Miller. On Thursday, Time Inc. editor in chief Norman Pearlstine said in statement: “It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court has left uncertain what protections the First Amendment and the federal common law provide journalists and their confidential sources … Despite these concerns, Time Inc. shall deliver the subpoenaed records to the special counsel in accordance with its duties under the law.” The Times has, so far, remained in support of Miller.
To get reaction, WWD contacted several magazine editors who cover the political arena.
Graydon Carter, editor in chief of Vanity Fair: “I think it’s a dreadful mistake for Time Inc. to cave to the request for material. This is the problem when you have vast portions of the national press owned by multifaceted, multinational corporations. Time is the largest magazine publisher in the world and if any company should be able to stand its ground, it should. This investigation was never about turning up the truth on the Valerie Plame leak. It was about one thing: intimidation. And for now it seems to have worked.”
Adam Moss, editor in chief of New York who previously worked at The New York Times: “Time Inc. made a difficult decision to turn over Matt Cooper’s notes, and I won’t second-guess their choice to comply with a very clear directive from the courts. I am deeply troubled, however, by the insidious nature of these verdicts. The right of news organizations to protect reporters’ notes and sources is critical to the effective functioning of a free press; all of us who care about American journalism ought to be plenty concerned.”
David Granger, Esquire editor in chief: “For the last eight months, we’ve had one of our writers under federal indictment in a case in Arizona. The details are somewhat different from Cooper and Miller, but what troubles me is that we’re living in a time when, in the mind of prosecutors, it’s open season on journalists and, coincidentally, a time when there is little public sympathy for the practice of journalism. Time Inc. was left with no good options. I don’t believe that their action makes the practice of aggressive journalism any more difficult. It’s been plenty difficult for some time now.”
This story first appeared in the July 1, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Jim Nelson, editor in chief of GQ: “This proves that one bad decision begets another. This whole case has been an absurdity wrapped inside a vendetta, with shades of Ken Starr. All the wrong people end up getting prosecuted — less out of some crying need for justice than out of a zeal to prove points and set precedents. We need to reserve most of our scorn for prosecutor [Thomas F.] Fitzgerald and Judge [Patrick J.] Hogan; they’re the ones forcing journalists to break the sacred codes they work by. But now that Time itself has caved, journalists can’t help but feel the earth eroding around them. I think that’s one reason reading about the mystery of Deep Throat recently gave so many of us a thrill again. But you can’t give into pessimism. I will not rest until Robert Novak is sitting in jail giving a sponge bath to Karl Rove.”
— Sara James and Jeff Bercovici
PRIVATE LIVES: Employees of Wenner Media take it for granted they are being watched — their e-mails monitored, their phone records scrutinized, their expense reports dissected. Now an ex-employee may be coming in for some of the same treatment. This week brought talk the company has hired a private investigator to track the activities of Nicola McCarthy, former executive editor of Us Weekly. McCarthy defected from Us in January to work on the U.S. launch of OK magazine, but a court ruled that she had violated the terms of her contract with Wenner. OK owner Northern & Shell settled the matter by paying Wenner damages (reportedly $1 million), promising that McCarthy wouldn’t work on American OK until April 2006, and agreeing not to hire away any more Wenner staffers for 15 years. But McCarthy is working out of OK’s New York headquarters and OK currently is Northern & Shell’s only planned U.S. launch.
Asked whether he had in fact hired a private eye, Wenner vice chairman Kent Brownridge told WWD, “If that was true, I certainly wouldn’t confirm it.” Fair enough. But has he heard anything to arouse suspicion? “This all comes under the heading of ‘Why would I possibly discuss this with you?'” McCarthy did not return phone calls.
Meanwhile, OK may be barred from poaching Wenner employees, but that doesn’t mean others are. Bauer Publishing’s Life & Style has hired Tamara Glenny, a former No. 2 at YM who had been freelancing full-time at Us, to be one of two new executive editors. (The other is Joe Bargmann, previously Budget Living’s editor at large.) Though less than a year old, Life & Style recently became one of the 10 biggest newsstand sellers, and has plans to grow still more by acquiring another 50,000 newsstand pockets. But the magazine has also been plagued by high turnover. “What can I say?” said editor in chief Sheryl Berk. “Right now, it’s a very competitive market out there.” — J.B.
CARGO’S HAULOVER: As of the September issue, nonmodel models — i.e. “real guys” — as well as paid male models will no longer appear on the cover of Cargo. The pretty boys will be replaced by notable personalities. Editor in chief Ariel Foxman said the new mix of cover subjects will include traditional Hollywood celebrities, as well as, say, “a chef, a politician, a businessman or an athlete.”
“Even from day one, we obviously considered celebrities for the cover,” said Foxman. “I was slow going in that direction. And the reason was, we were this new beast. We wanted to make sure our brand was established before we came in on the shoulders of celebrities.”
Branding accomplished, Cargo is putting Andy Roddick on the cover of its September issue, as Liz Smith reported Wednesday. Foxman said of the tennis player, “This is a guy who’s young, he makes tons of money, he collects vintage T-shirts, he has this amazing Lexus that he loves.” That’s Andy Roddick: Cargo in a nutshell.
Cargo’s sister title, Lucky, also initially eschewed celebrity covers, but eventually began using them to bolster newsstand sales. Unlike Lucky, which does not include profiles of its cover subjects, Cargo will run accompanying features inside the magazine.
For well fashion stories, the magazine will continue to use paid male models, just as they have been doing since late 2004. As for the nonmodel models discovered by Cargo’s editors, they will still appear in the magazine’s front of book. And maybe sometimes elsewhere, too. In the July/August issue, a madras fashion story shot by Thierry Van Biesen on Miami’s nude “Haulover Beach” features a number of average-looking, au naturale sunbathers in the background — wiggly bits and all. “Surprisingly,” said the magazine’s spokeswoman, “it was not that difficult to get people to agree to participate.”
OUT WITH A BANG: The under-25s in the house went wild when Phantom Planet took the stage at Elle Girl’s Hot Issue party Wednesday night. That was partly because they had spent the previous three hours consuming glazed doughnuts, Swedish fish, gelato Sno-Cones and other sugar-rich fare. But it was mainly because the band’s song “California” is the theme song to “The O.C.,” that object of frenzied teen worship. OK Go also played the bash, held at Splashlight Studios.
For Elle Girl editor in chief Brandon Holley, however, the real party will take place Monday at her parents’ farm in Virginia. The Holleys, you see, are a fireworks-loving clan, and Brandon is their self-described “fireworks czar.” “We light off fireworks for everything, every possible occasion,” she said. “We shoot them off a hay wagon in the back field. We’ve only had the fire department called once.”
Holley applies the same overachieving spirit to her pyrotechnic exploits that she brings to her day job. “The second you’re done, you’re already planning next year,” she said. “You have to top yourself. I go back through the catalogue and write down what worked and what didn’t.” Her favorites include Stormtrooper Assortment, Shagadelic Mojo and Pyrotechnic Mother Lode.
“There’ve been a few mishaps,” she continued. One involved a dog grabbing a mortar-style launcher in its mouth and running around with it, shells whizzing in every direction. “What started as a nice afternoon turned into a ‘Hamburger Hill’ scenario,” she said. Another came at her 10th high school reunion, when an errant rocket landed in a pile of works, setting them all off at once. Although no one was hurt, afterwards, she said, “everyone grabbed their children and left. I haven’t spoken to one person from high school since.”