Graydon Carter Awarded 2017 Hitchens Prize
The third annual Hitchens Prize was presented to Graydon Carter, long-time editor of Vanity Fair, on Thursday, November 9th at a dinner in New York City’s Waverly Inn.
In opening remarks, Dennis Ross, DVRF President, cited the Prize’s purpose to “honor the truth seekers working today, those who challenge authority and dogma, who follow the path dictated by their own conscience and judgment, who, in sum, possess the combination of intellectual honesty and moral courage “reflected in the work of the Prize’s namesake, Christopher Hitchens." Applying that standard to Carter, Ross hailed his “independence of mind and spirit, refusal to bend with the wind or to authority, and genuine respect for and protection of those qualities” in the many journalists whose careers he sponsored, not least of which, Christopher Hitchens himself.
As in previous years, the dinner included remarks from authors Christopher Buckley and Martin Amis and from Hitchens’ widow Carol Blue. Buckley characterized Carter as so deserving of the Prize that it might as well be awarded to him every year. Amis, who presented the Prize, noted Carter’s steadfast support for Hitchens throughout his courageous struggle with the illness that took his life.
In receiving the Prize, Carter recalled Hitchens’ outsized talent and courage, describing him as one of the country’s last great public intellectuals. Carter was characteristically modest about his own place in journalism, but his long tenure at Vanity Fair, as with his previous leadership of Spy and The New York Observer, speak powerfully of his commitment to fresh, honest, aggressive reporting as a bulwark of our free society. We can only hope that his recently announced retirement from Vanity Fair will not mark the end of his contributions to the public square.