Your correspondent is not excessively fond of personal confession. If he is at a conference and encounters a speaker indulging excessively in their biography, then he is unafraid to get up and leave. Biographical asides are acceptable to inform the audience of an speaker’s experience or relevant research background, but a little goes a long way as they say. So indulge your correspondent a small amount of biography: he is a recovering academic. After it became apparent that a career as a professor was not in his future, the pages of Vanity Fair (VF) became a lot more attractive than stacks of scholarly journals. This relationship with VF is very much of the love-hate variety: half the articles are wonderful, while the other half are not. The half that lack charm are the celebrity puff pieces, which are easy to avoid, and the political articles, which are not because I want to believe that VF, against all evidence, is better than that.
VF’s relationship to politics goes beyond that of the average lifestyle magazine as its editor, Graydon Carter, who brought Donald J. Trump (DJT) to his first White House Correspondents Dinner oh so many years ago in 1993. Of course that does not mean they’re friends—oh no!—far from it. The stories could go on for a while, but let me share two, or maybe three. First, Carter presciently recognized long ago that Trump was destined for either madness or greatness, though even he, like the rest of the celebrity world, is surprised that DJT is now the president-elect.
More recently (and more than a few years and pounds later), Carter penned what can only be called his most recent anti-DJT “hit piece” in the pages of VF. The epithets, insults, and anecdotes go on and on, which leaves your correspondent with the impression, admittedly in retrospect, that Carter is battling in vain against fate, destiny, and his inner demons against the inevitable election of DJT. But no more on that as the link is there if the reader desires to learn more.
Of course, the White House Correspondents Dinner is fraught with portent as President Barack Obama beat on DJT like a drum at its 2011 edition. Little did a self-satisfied President Obama—glowing in the praise from his Democrat colleagues, the press, and select celebrities—know that he was putting the first pieces in place for epic political blowback, a traditional threat to American presidents.