President Trump took a break from promoting his administration’s successes against ISIS and MS-13 on Twitter to slam Hillary Clinton, Vanity Fair magazine, and longtime Vogue editor Anna Wintour (who is not, as his tweet seems to suggest, the editor of Vanity Fair):
Vanity Fair, which looks like it is on its last legs, is bending over backwards in apologizing for the minor hit they took at Crooked H. Anna Wintour, who was all set to be Amb to Court of St James’s & a big fundraiser for CH, is beside herself in grief & begging for forgiveness!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 28, 2017
There’s a lot to unpack in this tweet, one of a flurry the commander-in-chief sent out Thursday morning.
It all begins with a video that Hive, Vanity Fair’s politics and business section, posted over the weekend that gave some New Year’s advice to Hillary Clinton.
In the video, the Hive’s editors, toasting with glasses of champagne, offer Clinton some suggestions for possible New Year’s resolutions that include writing a sequel to her campaign memoir What Happened, taking up hobbies like improv or knitting or “literally anything that will keep you from running again,” and putting away “the James Comey voodoo doll.”
Maybe it's time for Hillary Clinton to take up a new hobby in 2018 pic.twitter.com/sbE78rA5At— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) December 23, 2017
But the video’s jokes didn’t land for all those who viewed the video, and some interpreted the tone of the clip as sexist or anti-feminist.
Hey STOP TELLING WOMEN WHAT THE F-CK THEY SHOULD DO OR CAN DO. Get over your mommy issues.— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) December 27, 2017
Show me where you put Joe Biden through the same treatment.— Selena Adera (@Selena_Adera) December 26, 2017
You know, the guy who attempted THREE presidential runs so far and never made it past the primaries. The 75 year old whose track record pre-Obama includes reprehensible treatment of Anita Hill.#DoubleStandard
Including a former Clinton adviser:
So @VanityFair decided that the best way to end 2017 was to take a repulsive cheap shot at @HillaryClinton, one of the most accomplished women in the history of the United States.— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) December 27, 2017
Now #CancelVanityFair is moving.
Vanity Fair made a similar video about President Trump, which also lobbed a few cheap shots (“get a new haircut”), and at least two others for those in the White House orbit: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and economic adviser Gary Cohn.
But the Clinton video sparked outrage, and Vanity Fair eventually apologized for the post on Wednesday, saying, “It was an attempt at humor and we regret that it missed the mark.” (Vox reached out to Vanity Fair for further details, and will update if we hear back.)
Then Trump became a one-man backlash to the backlash. He ripped Vanity Fair for “bending over backwards in apologizing for the minor hit they took at Crooked H.” He then took a swipe at Anna Wintour, saying she “was all set to be Amb to Court of St James’s & a big fundraiser for CH, is beside herself in grief & begging for forgiveness!”
Ambassador to the Court of St. James is the formal title for the US ambassador to the United Kingdom (and Bermuda). Wintour, who did support Clinton and Barack Obama, is the editor-in-chief of Vogue, not Vanity Fair, though she is also the artistic director of Condé Nast, which publishes both magazines. Trump is likely referring to the rumors, which first percolated during the Obama administration, that she might be named ambassador to the UK — something he was also aware of:
I am happy to hear that Pres.Obama is considering giving Anna Wintour @voguemagazine an ambassadorship. She is a winner & really smart!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 5, 2012
Or, the shorter version: 2017 is going out on a note of still being 2017.
Trump really has a thing about Vanity Fair
Trump has nursed a grudge against Vanity Fair since long before he became president, though it mostly stemmed from his lasting feud with the publication’s longtime editor, Graydon Carter. Carter stepped down this year, replaced by Radhika Jones, who took over last month and unwittingly sparked a mini internet controversy of her own.
Carter and Trump first clashed during the 1980s, when Trump was still just a real estate mogul and New York tabloid favorite. Carter described Trump as having “hands small and neatly groomed” in a 1984 GQ profile, and most famously, in Spy Magazine in 1988 he satirically called Trump a “short-fingered vulgarian.” Carter, in 2015, said he wrote the insult to drive Trump “a little bit crazy.” The dig was revived by Marco Rubio on the campaign trail in the GOP primary, which eventually led to a surreal moment in which Trump defended his hand size on the debate stage.
Trump has voiced his disdain for the publication — and its then-editor, Carter — quite a lot in the years since he joined Twitter. Here are a few highlights:
Sadly, Vanity Fair is a rapidly dying magazine. Needs new blood--and fast! Going the way of SPY Magazine.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 3, 2011
They keep sending me free @VanityFair magazines in the mail--stop already.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 10, 2012
Vanity Fair circulation down 20 percent. My third rate stalker should start looking for a new job.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2012
.@VanityFair looks like a dying magazine! Really really boring, really really thin!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2012
@VanityFair I love to see garbage properly disposed of which is why I like watching the dismal circulation numbers of Vanity Fair-IT'S DEAD— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 14, 2013
I have watched sloppy Graydon Carter fail and close Spy Magazine and now am watching him fail at @VanityFair Magazine. He is a total loser!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2015
His most recent jab came last December, after his electoral victory. Vanity Fair had published a brutal takedown of Trump Grill:
Has anyone looked at the really poor numbers of @VanityFair Magazine. Way down, big trouble, dead! Graydon Carter, no talent, will be out!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2016
An apology from Vanity Fair — directed at his other favorite target, Clinton — was seemingly too much to resist.