For all the supposed friction marking today's media climate, from its morning show wars to sniping opinion commentators and ratings-driven one-upmanship, the biggest headline to come out of Wednesday night's party to honor THR's 35 Most Powerful People in Media is the record number of hugs exchanged between its big-name guests.
Packing into the swank Four Seasons Restaurant's Grill Room in midtown Manhattan, a host of the most major players in broadcast, cable and the web celebrated their inclusion in THR's second annual Power List. Tossing any rivalries aside, the evening featured plenty of newsworthy conversations between titans of news.
After Barbara Walters arrived "casually early," as she gleefully called it, and walked the red carpet, she made her way upstairs to a reserved table along what served as a stage area, joined soon after by Fox News chief Roger Ailes. The pair sat at a packed table for quite a bit of time, engaged in conversation as what would prove to be an unending flow of hors d'oeuvres -- from mini pizzas, tacos and sliders to upscale delights such as quail eggs and caviar -- began to stream from the kitchen.
As the party filled out, the open floor of the restaurant was dotted with big names, such as Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, CBS' Gayle King and Steve Kroft, Arianna Huffington and a cadre of top Huffington Post editors, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, ABC's George Stephanopoulos, The New York Times' David Carr and Brian Stelter and talk show host Wendy Williams.
The bar that greeted guests at the entrance of the top floor also proved to be a prime meeting spot, with ABC's Katie Couric being a magnet for reporters and colleagues alike.
Early in the evening, she spent quality time speaking with CBS chief Leslie Moonves, her former boss of five years when she anchored the CBS Evening News. Couric then spoke with THR's Owen Phillips and Marisa Guthrie (who had interviewed Couric for THR's new cover story about Matt Lauer) and later had a substantial chat with Huffington, which drew plenty of photographers.
"I think you do have some responsibilities -- to do the best job you can, always, and to uphold certain standards, integrity -- and to be true to yourself," Couric told THR about what being designated one of the most powerful people in media means to her.
After short speeches from THR publisher Lynne Segall and parent company Prometheus Global Media chairman Jimmy Finkelstein, along with a video from THR editorial director Janice Min, CBS News chairman Jeff Fager spoke briefly about longtime 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace, who died Sunday.
"Mike Wallace would have loved this event," Fager said. "Because tomorrow morning, when Steve Kroft and I showed up on the floor of 60 Minutes, he'd say, 'Oh, 35 most powerful? Aren't you just so goddamn special?'" As the audience laughed, Fager continued: "That's the way Mike was. He was relentless, he was in your face, and he never let you forget anything like this. We would have been hearing about this list for the next six months."