Politics & Policy

Vidal Discredited!

Esquire apologies to Buckley; picks up legal tab.

EDITOR’S NOTE:This will appear in the upcoming (December 31, 2004, issue of National Review) as well as in Esquire.

An Open Letter to Our Readers Concerning William F. Buckley Jr.

In 2003, Esquire published a collection of essays that had appeared in the magazine. One of these was an article by Gore Vidal repeating libels against Mr. Buckley that had appeared in the original article in 1969.

The publication of that original article resulted in a lawsuit. Esquire settled by apologizing to Mr. Buckley, affirming the high respect in which he was held by the editors and compensating him for legal costs.

Present management was not aware of the history of this litigation, and greatly regrets the re-publication of the libels in the current collection. That book will no longer be distributed by the publisher unless the Vidal article is removed from the book.

The original Vidal article followed the publication by Mr. Buckley of an essay on Vidal, about which Vidal complained in a lawsuit that was thrown out of court. Esquire will be happy to send a copy of Mr. Buckley’s article to anyone requesting it. (Please write to Peter Martin, Esquire Magazine, 1790 Broadway, 13th floor, New York, NY 10019.) A reading of it will give the curious a perspective on the controversy. The article by Mr. Buckley can also be found at Esquire.com until March 15, 2005.

Settlement Agreement and Release

This Settlement Agreement and Release (“Settlement Agreement”) is entered into by and between William F. Buckley Jr. (“Mr. Buckley”) on the one hand, and Hearst Communications, Inc. (“Hearst”) on the other hand.


WHEREAS, an essay entitled “A Distasteful Encounter with William F. Buckley Jr.” by Gore Vidal (the “Vidal Essay”) was published pursuant to a license from Hearst in a book entitled Esquire’s Big Book of Great Writing; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Buckley claims that the Vidal Essay has defamed him and caused him damage, which claims are denied by Hearst; and

WHEREAS, Hearst contends that publication of the Vidal Essay is protected by the First Amendment; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Buckley is concerned about the impact of the publication of the Vidal Essay on his career; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Buckley and Hearst desire to compromise finally all claims between them completely, without any admission of liability on the part of any party and to avoid the expense and inconvenience of litigation;

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the mutual promises and covenants set forth herein, the parties agree as follows:

1. Payments by Hearst. Within 15 days of the execution of this Settlement Agreement by Mr. Buckley, Hearst will pay the sum of $55,000 to Mr. Buckley’s counsel, Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, and will pay the sum of $10,000 to Mr. Buckley.

2. Publication by Hearst of Open Letter. Hearst will publish in the February 2005 issue of Esquire magazine An Open Letter to [Our Readers Concerning] William F. Buckley Jr. as set forth in Exhibit A hereto.

3. Hearst to Provide Buckley Essay. Hearst will provide a copy of the essay by Mr. Buckley entitled “On Experiencing Gore Vidal” (the “Buckley Essay”) to anyone who requests it and will also post that essay on the Esquire.com website for two months beginning January 15, 2005. Mr. Buckley hereby grants Hearst the right to reproduce and publish the Buckley Essay as specified in this paragraph.

4. No Further Publication of Book. Hearst will require that copies of Esquire’s Big Book of Great Writing with the Vidal Essay will no longer be distributed by the publisher, and that the publisher will destroy all copies in inventory of Esquire’s Big Book of Great Writing with the Vidal Essay. However, copies of Esquire’s Big Book of Great Writing that have already been shipped by the publisher may continue to be sold through customary channels of book sales and distribution, and the publisher has the right to reprint Esquire’s Big Book of Great Writing without the Vidal Essay.

5. Release by Mr. Buckley. Mr. Buckley, on behalf of himself, his successors and assigns, (“Releasor”) hereby releases, acquits and forever discharges . . . Hearst Communications, Inc. and Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. . . . from any and all claims, demands, actions, causes of action, suits, damages, and proceedings of every kind, whether known or unknown, which against any or all of them the Releaseor ever had, now has or hereinafter may have arising from the publication of the Vidal Essay in the book entitled Esquire’s Big Book of Great Writing. . . .

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, Mr. Buckley and Hearst have executed this Settlement Agreement as their free act and deed.


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