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BUT WOULDN’T TAXES COME FIRST?: What will David Remnick’s second act be? “Death,” he told Ken Auletta at a Thursday breakfast hosted by The New Yorker and the Newhouse School. But it was the second act of Remnick’s co-panelist, Anna Wintour, that was really in the air, after recent rumors the editor in chief may leave Vogue, which both she and Condé Nast chairman S.I. Newhouse have denied. (WWD is also owned by Condé Nast.) “I can’t really top that,” said Wintour of Remnick’s comment. “My father always said to me that when you get too angry, that’s the time to stop. So the day I get too angry is the day I’ll take up gardening.”
“Well, if it’s about being angry at your editors and writers, I’m way past that,” added the other panelist, Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter.
On whether the editor’s public image mattered to the magazine, Wintour said, “Well, in my case sometimes I think it’s too important.” Speaking of her likes and dislikes about the job, she said, “Sometimes I don’t love the press.”
The panel acknowledged the tough advertising climate — Wintour said she had recently vetoed a $50,000 sequined dress from a Steven Meisel shoot, given the times — but it was all careful optimism and polite consensus until a pointed question from New York Times business columnist Joe Nocera. “I’m a little stunned by how sanguine you are about the economics of the magazine business,” he said. “I started thinking that maybe it’s because you’re in that wonderful cocoon called Condé Nast.” He said their magazines had benefited from the luxury goods boom, now seriously diminished, and from the relative reluctance of fashion advertisers to migrate to the Web and wondered whether their titles would “start to suffer the way your magazine brethren [at other companies] have suffered.” Remnick denied, a bit heatedly, that the trio was being complacent. “I think that magazines that mean something will have a future,” he repeated, pointing out that The New Yorker came to be during the Depression and survived.
Asked afterwards if he was satisfied by the answer, Nocera replied, “I don’t want to get on David Remnick’s bad side.” And did he agree with Remnick’s assessment? “No,” said Nocera. “I think three years from now you’ll see the transformation of magazines that is every bit as inevitable as it was with newspapers. But that’s one man’s opinion.”
— Irin Carmon