Graydon Carter is stepping down as editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair in December, after 25 years at the helm of the entertainment and pop-culture publication.
“I want to leave while the magazine is on top,” Carter told The New York Times. “I want to leave while it’s in vibrant shape, both in the digital realm and the print realm. And I wanted to have a third act — and I thought, time is precious.”
Described by the NYT as a “party host, literary patron, film producer and restaurateur,” Carter is known for unveiling the Watergate leaker Deep Throat in 2005, and creating the star-studded Vanity Fair Oscar party.
He’s also known for referring to President Donald Trump as a “short-fingered vulgarian,” which began with his writing in the satirical Spy magazine, which Carter cofounded.
Carter hasn’t been shy about his longtime animus toward President Trump, and neither has the president.
In December, president-elect Trump tweeted: “Has anyone looked at the really poor numbers of @VanityFair Magazine. Way down, big trouble, dead! Graydon Carter, no talent, will be out!”
But the magazine had seen a 2% increase in revenues year-over-year at the time, and digital revenues were up 74% year-over-year. So Vanity Fair used Trump’s remarks as part of its marketing campaign. A banner ad on its website read, "The 'way down, big trouble, dead' magazine Trump doesn't want you to read! Subscribe now!"
Carter also ran The New York Observer before joining Vanity Fair in 1992.
He plans to oversee the 2018 edition of the magazine’s Hollywood Issue, before taking six months off, perhaps at his rented home in Provence. Then Carter will likely focus on a future project.
“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 said in a statement to multiple outlets.
Carter told the NYT he will offer suggestions for his successor to Vanity Fair’s publisher, Condé Nast. It’s a coveted position — with big shoes to fill. Before Carter, there was Tina Brown, who went on to run The New Yorker and The Daily Beast.
As for the industry, Carter had these words to share: “The romance of the magazine business will continue, but it will be harder to maintain.”