Women’s Wear Daily
04.16.2014
fashion-memopad
fashion-memopad

Memo Pad: No Barbs Held... New Gang... New Face...

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.

fashion-memopad/news
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
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