Graydon Carter Stepping Down as Vanity Fair Editor

Graydon Carter
John Salangsang/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

Graydon Carter is ending his 25-year run atop the masthead of Vanity Fair.

The magazine editor said he will step down from the glossy publication in December and will oversee the planning of the 2018 edition of the magazine’s Hollywood Issue. A successor was not announced, but his exit leaves one of the most coveted jobs in journalism open — it’s a gig that commands a lavish expense account, seven-figure salary, and town car.

Under Carter, Vanity Fair offered an arresting mixture of celebrity profiles on the likes of George Clooney and Angelina Jolie (often shot in full-glamour mode by Annie Leibovitz), with meatier examinations of foreign hotspots and Beltway intrigue. There were also plenty of nostalgic looks at old Hollywood, histories of elite one-percent playgrounds from Saint-Tropez to Yale’s Skull and Bones society, and profiles of literary lions such as William F. Buckley and William Styron. It was a monthly potpourri of cultural tastes, catering to both the high and the low.

“I’ve loved every moment of my time here and I’ve pretty much accomplished everything I’ve ever wanted to do,” Carter said in a statement. “I’m now eager to try out this ‘third act’ thing that my contemporaries have been telling me about, and I figure I’d better get a jump on it.”

Carter’s run was remarkable in that he maintained control even as the publishing industry suffered a swan dive. Condé Nast, Vanity Fair’s owner, has been hit hard by print advertising declines as more readers move online.

It wasn’t all prose with Carter. In addition to promoting writers such as Christopher Hitchens, Dominick Dunne, Bethany McLean, Bryan Burrough, and William D. Cohan, Carter created the magazine’s annual Oscar party. Invites to the all-star event remain highly coveted.

Carter, with his unruly tufts of white hair, became something of a celebrity himself, emerging as one of the most recognizable media figures in the world. It was an odd position for someone who first came to fame lampooning the Fourth Estate and power brokers such as Donald Trump, as the co-founder of Spy magazine. He also served as the editor of The New York Observer before coming to Vanity Fair and taking the reins from Tina Brown in 1992.

Carter leveraged his rolodex in creative ways. He became a film producer, backing Brett Morgen’s “The Kid Stays in the Picture” — a look at producer Robert Evans — as well as Martin Scorsese’s “Public Speaking” — an HBO documentary on his dear friend, satirist, and writer Fran Lebowitz. On Broadway, Carter produced “I’ll Eat You Last,” a popular one-woman play that starred Bette Midler as the Hollywood talent agent Sue Mengers.

He was a restauranteur as well, starting the New York eateries the Waverly Inn and the Monkey Bar.

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  1. John says:

    He deserved it.
    No celebrity trusts “Vanity Fair” anymore after the Jolie interview fiasco.
    But it never was a trustworthy paper anyway.

  2. Diaz says:

    He will not resign from the post of Vanity Fair publisher, he was fired from the magazine because of what the magazine did with Angelina Jolie, having manipulated her words and created a controversy that did not exist, only to sell copies of the magazine.

  3. More often than not I liked and occasionally loved VF. Esp epic photos and esp Chris Hitchins in the day. While I never mind people’s political opinions when they differ from mine, I did mind Carter’s OBSESSION with attacking President Trump in each and every issue and that greatly diminished the value and neutrality that the mag once had. His mag, his opinion he would argue—but that’s not why people read VF.

  4. IT--////--IT@hotmail.com says:

    Vanity Fair – — SPOOK rag !

    TAKE HEED

  5. Tripp Fell says:

    It never catered “to both the high and the low”, only the high. Nothing wrong with a little class, esp when it’s the only mag that can get just the right mix of celebrity, fashion, politics & business. This is what makes VF so magnificent. And it sure as hell wasn’t because of Graydon. Not at all sorry to see you go, pal. Your incessant perceived moral superiority of the left is nothing if not insufferable.

  6. Spike says:

    good riddance to the snotty snob

  7. D C Wachs says:

    Mr. Carter, you will be missed. The first thing I read when the magazine arrives is your monthly article, always pithy and on target, especially when observations about Trump are featured. Good luck to you; here’s hoping you will keep your pen (computer, typewriter…) at the ready and share some of your wisdom with us in the future.

  8. YUG says:

    FIRED FOR KNOCKING TRUMP TOO MUCH. HURT VF BUSINESS

    • pageturner says:

      Yeah, because the Trump contingent is Vanity Fair’s target audience? Ridiculous. They hate everyone who reads VF or is in VF.

      Graydon Carter brought an amazing blend of seriousness and levity into a very satisfying magazine…whoever takes his place would do well to continue in that vein and not try to reinvent the wheel.

    • Response says:

      Nonsense.

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