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NEW YORK ( -- The magazine industry gathered at Manhattan’s Waldorf Astoria last night to hand out their version of lifetime achievement awards to two very different individuals: a woman who attributes much of her success to her stint in the early days at Ms. magazine and a man credited with starting a magazine that created the conservative movement and brought on the Reagan revolution.
Photo: Steve Friedman
William F. Buckley and Tom Wolfe at the Waldorf-Astoria where Mr. Buckley was inducted into the American Society of Magazine Editors Hall of Fame.

Cathleen Black, finishing up a decade as Hearst Magazines’ president, received the Henry Johnson Fisher Award, named for the founder of Popular Science Publishing and awarded to an executive for his or her publishing accomplishments. One of her career highlights was becoming the first woman publisher of a weekly magazine, New York, and she credits getting that job to her sales experience on the launch of Ms. with Gloria Steinem and Pat Carbine.

Ms. Carbine, in fact, presented Ms. Black with her award, and Ms. Carbine began her remarks by reminding everyone it was a “very big deal” for a “fourth-generation Irish Catholic girl from the Southside of Chicago” to be honored with an award that so far has been “most elusive for women.” She then laid out her career, which early on, in 1972, brought her to the doorstep of Ms. as a manager, at 28, of four other equally green salespeople. From there she moved on to New York, when it was owned by Rupert Murdoch, and then later become the launch publisher of Al Neuharth’s newspaper experiment, USA Today. In the notoriously male-dominated world of newspaper publishing, she went on to head the newspaper industry association at a contentious time when it brought together six smaller industry groups under one banner. The video Hearst Magazines provided as part of the introduction billed her as a “Fun Fearless Female” before Cosmopolitan took that as its tagline.

In her remarks, Ms. Black listed the catalysts in her life that caused her to change direction, most notably naming Ms. as the place that “so changed my dreams of who I could become.”

Photo: Steve Friedman
Ms. co-founder Pat Carbine presented Hearst Magazines President Cathleen Black with her lifetime achievement award.

Meanwhile, William F. Buckley, founder of the National Review, was being inducted into the American Society of Magazine Editor’s Hall of Fame.

ASME President Mark Whitaker (whose day job is editing Newsweek) told the crowd that when Mr. Buckley was called to inform him he was to be this year’s inductee, he replied that he had to quite honestly say he had no idea what an ASME Hall of Fame was. “Well, Bill,” Mr. Whitaker said, addressing Mr. Buckley from the stage, “an editor’s Hall of Fame without you in it is like a baseball Hall of Fame without Ted Williams.” A curious reference we thought, given Ted Williams reputation as a notorious crank.

But Mr. Buckley was anything but cranky, charming an audience that had its fair share of people who probably fervently wish the conservative movement had never been birthed. Bringing author Tom Wolfe, renowned for his place in magazine history as the author of “The Kandy Kolored Tangerine Flake Streamline Baby” and “The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test,” as his presenter went a long way in winning over the crowd.

Mr. Wolfe started his introduction of Mr. Buckley by warning the audience he wasn’t sure his remarks would be well received, but since he hadn’t prepared any others, he was going ahead with them anyway. He then went on to compare the founder of the National Review with four people: Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin and Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. After a rather lengthy aside to disparage Darwin as an intellectual thief -- which Mr. Wolfe said should not count as part of his allotted three and a half minutes -- he explained that like Mr. Buckley, each of those four had, without any apparatus behind them or organization, by just the sheer power of their intellect, changed the world in meaningful ways.

“Until Bill Buckley began to publish the National Review, there was no conservative movement, no philosophy.” Mr. Buckley was helped along by what Mr. Wolfe described as the “matter of his presence.” After referencing Mr. Buckley’s skilled rhetoric and large vocabulary with which he buried those debating with him, Mr. Wolfe said, “and then there is the matter of his accent. I overheard his son Christopher Buckley once recount that ‘I was 8 years old before I knew we weren’t English.’”

Mr. Buckley then gave the audience a taste of his most unusual accent, and recounted how he started the National Review right out of college, and for the first 10 years “it was a very indigent operation.” He said his salary from those days was $1 a year, and for 10 years he only put in for his $1 every other year. But his fortunes improved when he decided to take a ski vacation with his wife, and thought he would write an essay to pay for it. He hit upon the idea of charging $300 for it, and sent it off to a small magazine that was then under much more renowned title Esquire. Esquire’s legendary editor Harold Hayes called to say he wanted to publish it, but only if he could run a profile of the author alongside it. That was in 1961 and the essay was “Why don’t we complain.” Since then, the essay has been republished so many times it has paid for a lifetime of ski trips, Mr. Buckley said. “That’s when I learned it paid to complain.”

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