The 35 Most Powerful People in New York Media 2018

5:35 AM 4/12/2018

by Edited by Alison Brower and Marisa Guthrie

The Hollywood Reporter names the year's top news players and teams influencing how Americans get their information in a 24/7 Trump-fueled news cycle.

THR savannah guthrie_hoda Kotb_20180320_THR_GUTHRIE_KOTB_S04_0430 - THR - H 2018
Ruven Afanador

The first year of Donald Trump's administration — where Twitter tirades often stand in for policy statements — has delivered a steady diet of chaos for the New York media. And the figures who lead it — TV news anchors and executives, late night's political satirists and comic relievers — will never be the same. Many have blamed or, depending on your point of view, credited the thrice-married Trump with spurring the #MeToo reckoning that has toppled a succession of household names, Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer chief among them, and led to the elevation — hard-earned and viewership-validated — of Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb at NBC's Today and Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell at CBS This Morning. The Trump administration has also made outspoken advocates of John Oliver, Seth Meyers, Samantha Bee and Trevor Noah, whose late-night programs incisively skewer its hypocrisies and blunders. And it has renewed the industry's commitment to fearless shoe-leather reporting on every channel, page and portal. The Hollywood Reporter's eighth annual list of the media's top players and teams salutes the men and women who, by speaking truth to power, garner plenty of their own.

Profiles written by Seth Abramovitch, Jeremy Barr, Eriq Gardner, Marisa Guthrie, Natalie Jarvey, Michael O'Connell, Lacey Rose, Bryn Elise Sandberg, Tatiana Siegel and Rebecca Sun.

  • Jack Abernethy, Suzanne Scott and Jay Wallace

    WHY THEY MATTER Fox News finished 2017 in a familiar place — tops in the ratings, for the 16th time. It won the first quarter of 2018 too, despite a double-digit drop from the same period a year earlier, the heady early days of the Trump administration. Together, these execs (Abernethy, 61, a marathoner who has two grown sons and "two feline replacements"; Scott, 52, a married mom of a 12-year-old, competitive swimmer daughter; and Wallace, 46, a Boston sports and Billy Joel superfan) have walked the fine line of modernizing the network — including creating several women-hosted shows — while staying true to the vision of Rupert Murdoch and the late Roger Ailes to the tune of $730 million in 2017 ad revenue, according to Standard Media Index.


    ABERNETHY "I lunch alone. No time for interruptions."

    SCOTT "Lunch is usually soup and fruit at my desk, but if I do have company, [the topic is] New Fox and Fox Nation."

    WALLACE "Whether I'm over the Patriots losing to the Eagles. I'm still not over the Patriots losing to the Giants."


    ABERNETHY "Count my breaths."

    SCOTT "Reflect … and set my alarm … or vice versa."


    ABERNETHY Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History


  • Jesse Angelo

    WHY HE MATTERS Since being upped from city desk to executive editor in 2009, the baby-faced Harvard grad and native New Yorker, 44, has transformed the Post for the digital era: It boasts the fourth-highest circulation in the U.S. (433,000), drew 59 million unique visitors to its website in October — up from a high of 43 million the year prior — and saw its first foray into television, syndicated half-hour Page Six TV, renewed for a second season. The column that inspired the show remains the city's dominant gossip outlet, scoring two big divorce scoops: Donald Trump Jr.'s and Rudolph Giuliani's.

    THE LUNCH TOPIC I CAN'T AVOID "Calm and dispassionate political discourse."

    MY GO-TO PODCAST Dan Carlin's Hardcore History


  • Dean Baquet, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey

    WHY THEY MATTER Along with breaking stories about Russian electoral meddling, Trump's business conflicts and much more, the Baquet-led paper withstood threats from Harvey Weinstein to publish a transformative piece of journalism from Kantor, 42, and Twohey, 41, about decades of sexual harassment by the mogul. "I had no idea we were starting a movement that would reverberate," says Baquet, 61. "No idea that it would stir up so many other cases. No idea that it would change the national conversation." As for the bottom line, it's looking up: According to regulatory filings, the Times' revenue rose 7.7 percent in 2017 to $1.675 billion, thanks to 2.6 million digital-only subscriptions (up 40 percent from 2016).


    KANTOR "Weinstein and #MeToo. People want to tell me and Megan their version. Sometimes not for reporting — sometimes for advice or absolution, which we can't really give."


    BAQUET "James Mattis, if he's around when this is published. Actually, more so if he isn't."

    TWOHEY Rex Tillerson.


    KANTOR "Have you heard the one in which Esther Perel actually does marital therapy, with all the intense sex stuff, and broadcasts the sessions?"


    BAQUET "Read fiction."

    KANTOR "Bath, book."

    TWOHEY "Read a book, if only for two minutes."


    BAQUET "It hasn't really changed."

    KANTOR "I've been working so hard that I often resort to balancing my laptop on my knees on the train, which is not ideal."

    TWOHEY "Jodi and I just went on book leave. Instead of commuting 45 minutes by subway from Park Slope to Midtown Manhattan, I now stroll over to a shared work space in Brooklyn."


    BAQUET "Having someone start a conversation with me about a book I was reading and finding out later it was to distract me so my pocket could be picked."

    KANTOR "The daily indignation is so constant that it's hard to think of just one episode. Missed meetings because of signal problems? Yes. Getting stuck under the East River while trying to get home to my kids? Sure."


    (Dowd resigned from Trump's legal team March 22.)

  • Samantha Bee

    WHY SHE MATTERS Without a desk, a house band or a revolving door of star guests, Bee has carved out a unique niche in the late-night marketplace. Now in its third season, her Wednesday-night TBS series leads network originals with 4 million viewers across platforms and a regular dose of viral hits like a Jan. 17 segment about the #MeToo backlash, "or as I like to call it, the #YouTooLoud movement" (1.5 million views on YouTube). Full Frontal is one of the top-rated late-night shows among the 18-34 set, while technically not airing in late-night, and the TV Academy took notice, granting the show seven Emmy nominations. The 48-year-old mother of three also shares a creator credit on husband Jason Jones' TBS comedy, The Detour.

  • Campbell Brown

    WHY SHE MATTERS The former CNN host raised eyebrows when she joined Facebook in January 2017. After all, the social network hadn't endeared itself to the news media after public dust-ups over fake news and a perceived bias in its trending topics section. But Brown, 49, wasn't fooling herself about having her work cut out for her. "I love to work on hard problems, and this is a really hard problem," says the mother of two boys (with husband Dan Senor, a writer and political adviser). Brown spent her first year on the job meeting with news teams around the world. The result: a three-pronged strategy to make Facebook friendlier to media partners, including plans for a subscription paywall, Facebook-funded news videos and a focus on quality sources — though the social network's relationship with media has been overshadowed by the ongoing scandal in which the personal data of up to 87 million users was shared with research firm Cambridge Analytica. Brown bets that Facebook, with its 2.1 billion users, "is going to play a really important role" in the future of news.

    THE LUNCH TOPIC I CAN'T AVOID "Do you really need to ask?"


  • Andy Cohen

    WHY HE MATTERS Perhaps the most successful producer turned executive turned emcee in that very specific category, Cohen is only seeing his profile grow. A devoted New Yorker, where he tapes talker Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen for Bravo most nights, the 49-year-old still finds time to get out of his Greenwich Village apartment and traverse the country for his comedy act with Anderson Cooper (AC2) and his Fox dating show Love Connection. His day gig, WWHL, is both a platform for promoting Cohen's beloved Real Housewives and a stop for A-listers like Jennifer Lawrence. He further proved his rapport with viewers — and longtime friend Cooper — when he joined the CNN host for his New Year's telecast, which reached an all-time high 3.3 million viewers.

    LUNCH TOPIC I CAN'T AVOID "The Housewives!"

    LAST THING BEFORE BED, I ... "Kiss my dog. Is that sad?"

    THE EX-TRUMP STAFFER I MOST WANT TO INTERVIEW "I'm holding out for Melania."

    MY GO-TO PODCAST "Bitch Sesh. It's the most hilarious Housewives breakdown anywhere."

  • Stephen Colbert and Chris Licht

    WHY THEY MATTER Who needs an Ed McMahon when you can have a TV impresario behind the curtain? Colbert, the 53-year- old current king of late night, was stumbling through the CBS gig he inherited from David Letterman two and a half years ago — until the powers that be paired the celebrated comedian and father of three with former morning news producer Licht. Two years into the TV marriage, Licht, a 46-year-old dad of two sons, has sparked an unlikely success story, with Late Show and its astute political satire firmly atop onetime juggernaut Jimmy Fallon (NBC's Tonight Show) for 14 months. Colbert averages nearly 4 million viewers per episode, outpacing Fallon by 39 percent and enjoying unprecedented lifts from next-day views. This year Colbert and Licht also launched an animated Showtime series, Our Cartoon President.


    LICHT "When we launched CBS This Morning, Trump sent me a photocopy of a Daily News article all marked up in Sharpie con­gratulating me on the show. I have not received anything similar since coming to The Late Show."


    LICHT Pod Save America


    LICHT "Read Reliable Sources' newsletter."


    LICHT "Whichever one will tell the truth."

  • Anderson Cooper

    WHY HE MATTERS The face of CNN hit booking pay dirt in March when he landed the get of 2018 for his moonlighting gig on 60 Minutes. Cooper's sit-down with alleged Trump paramour Stormy Daniels set fire to ratings, bringing a near-decade high 22 million viewers to CBS' venerable newsmagazine. The 50-year-old journalist's 360° remains his third-place network's top-rated (389,000 adults 25-54) and most-watched (1.1 million viewers) show for 2018 to date. Cooper's New York profile remains unparalleled: The self-professed picky eater ("I'm like a 5-year-old") famously resides in a converted Greenwich Village firehouse and runs with a coterie of media stars (many on this list) — hitting the town with Kelly Ripa, touring with pal Andy Cohen and making regular appearances on Colbert.

    LUNCH TOPIC I CAN'T AVOID "The president. I'm sure it's the same for most people. I was in Iceland a couple of weekends ago, and just about everyone I met there had something to say or ask about our president."

    LAST THING BEFORE BED, I ... "I watch a lot of dramas. Narcos, Billions, Peaky Blinders. I like to be transported to a place that is completely different than my day-to-day life."

  • Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade

    WHY THEY MATTER Day in and day out, these three Fox News stars — making their debut on THR's list — put on cable's most popular and most influential morning show, dominating the competition on CNN and MSNBC with an average of 1.5 million viewers. It's no secret that President Trump watches regularly, tweets along and gets commentary, policy and even cabinet ideas from the show. The co-hosts — Kilmeade, 53, a Long Island father of three and onetime stand-up comedian; Earhardt, 41, a mom with a daughter; and Doocy, 61, whose three kids include son Peter, a Fox reporter — often play good cop, bad cop in interviews with members of Trump's administration, extracting more newsworthy information than you'd expect from a show that's often longer on opinion than straight news. But Fox & Friends has frequently defended the president and provided cover for him on issues including his insistence on mocking Sen. Elizabeth Warren's claim that she has Native American heritage; his coziness with Vladimir Putin; and his "joke" about wanting to be "president for life." Some personal pleasures: the beach or tennis for Earhardt and a meal at Del Frisco's for Kilmeade and Doocy, who favors the restaurant's lemon cake: "The slices are gigantic and lemon-zesty. A-B-C-delicious!"


    KILMEADE "I once saw a 20-something-year-old businessman knock out a 30-year-old drunk guy with one punch. It was exactly like Foreman vs. Cooney, where big George was walking away before Cooney hit the canvas … this guy was walking up the stairs before his head hit the pavement."


    EARHARDT "Catch up on the news and prepare for Fox & Friends the next day. I study each of the guests and make sure I am prepared to interview them."


  • Nancy Dubuc

    WHY SHE MATTERS In her move from A+E Networks, where she served as president and CEO for five years, Dubuc soon will take the reins of the onetime new media darling from co-founder and face-of Shane Smith. In her new role, the savvy 49-year-old exec, who will be Brooklyn-based (while Smith remains involved from Venice, California), will work to steer the bro-tastic company into a more equitable future. "[Nancy and I] are a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde," Smith has said, "and we are going to take all of your money." (He's also called her "better than me at everything.") But while there's big opportunity, the married mother of two joins at a rocky time for digital media companies. Vice, like BuzzFeed, is said to have missed revenue projections last year amid heated competition for digital ad dollars from tech giants Facebook and Google. And Smith had cooled on talking about taking the company public. Indeed, with revenue growth slowing, the $5.7 billion company — which includes cable network Viceland — will likely need to cut costs and focus on becoming profitable under Dubuc to emerge as an attractive acquisition target.

    LAST THING BEFORE BED, I … "Used to play Scrabble — but now I'm reading Brian Stelter's recap of the day."

    MY MEMORABLE TRUMP MOMENT "He sent me a personal note after the [History miniseries] Hatfields & McCoys ratings came in. Random."

    HOW MY COMMUTE HAS CHANGED IN THE PAST YEAR "It's about to get a little longer, which I'm thrilled about. Need more podcast time."

    MY GO-TO PODCAST "Pod Save America. Such a clever team!"

  • Jeff Fager

    WHY HE MATTERS The broadcast that Fager has led for 13 seasons remains a top 10 program, with nearly 12 million viewers each week, and a destination for newsmakers of all stripes — from Rex Tillerson in his last sit-down as secretary of state (before Trump fired him — via tweet, naturally) to Stormy Daniels, the adult film star and erstwhile Trump paramour at the center of an ongoing legal battle with the president. (The March 25 broadcast delivered the show's biggest audience in nearly 10 years.) Fager, 63, the married father of three grown children, last year lost longtime contributor Charlie Rose to the Time's Up tide, but others have filled the breach (including Oprah Winfrey and Scott Pelley, who returned to the show full-time this season). Meanwhile, Bill Whitaker has emerged as a keystone; his October report on the opioid crisis (an investigation with The Washington Post) led to the withdrawal of Trump's nominee for drug czar.


  • Jimmy Fallon

    WHY HE MATTERS Though he's lost both viewers and buzz to Stephen Colbert's and Jimmy Kimmel's more political shows, NBC's Fallon, 43, continues to maintain his hold on the younger demo: He's winning the season (15 percent ahead of Colbert) among adults 18-49, and his ability to draw A-list guests (and get them to play such games as Wheel of Musical Impressions and Egg Russian Roulette) is second to none in late night and beyond. The father of two daughters, ages 3 and 4 (his wife is producer Nancy Juvonen), made his own political foray March 24 with a personal trip to D.C. for the March for Our Lives. Network brass has not wavered in its support, which is why the Tonight Show star has a nightly slot on NBC's schedule through 2021.

    THE LUNCH TOPIC I CAN'T AVOID "Where is Justin Timberlake?"

    LAST THING BEFORE BED, I … "Look up at the moon. Say a prayer that the Space Force will always keep it safe."

  • Ronan Farrow

    WHY HE MATTERS Revealing the seamy underside of power has become the stock-in-trade for the 30-year-old journalist, who makes his first appearance on THR's list after a series of blockbuster exposés. Farrow's investigative work about Harvey Weinstein and his network of enablers and black ops contractors — as well as his reports on the role that American Media CEO David Pecker (a close Trump pal) had in suppressing unflattering stories about the president's alleged dalliances — have stood out in a climate of renewed journalistic focus on investigations. He's got a multi-doc deal with HBO. And he continues to focus on global affairs; his book War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence (due out April 24 from W.W. Norton) explores the global leadership vacuum that has accelerated during the Trump administration — and includes one of the last interviews with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson before his firing in March. When he's not hopscotching between L.A. (where he often stays with pal and Pod Save America co-host Jon Lovett) and his childhood home in Bridgewater, Connecticut, Farrow lives on the Upper West Side.

    THE LUNCH TOPIC I CAN'T AVOID "What is this lunch you speak of? I generally hear, 'It's 4:30 p.m., at least go to a vend­ing machine.'"

    LAST THING BEFORE BED, I … "Clutch my phone in a vise grip of anxiety exactly like the experts say you shouldn't."

    MY GO-TO PODCAST The New Yorker Radio Hour. "This will get me in trouble with Pod Save America."

    HOW MY COMMUTE HAS CHANGED IN THE PAST YEAR "Tailed by more former Mossad agents than usual."

  • Jeff Glor, Lester Holt and David Muir

    WHY THEY MATTER Cable may get all of the attention — not to mention the frequent slings of "Fake news!" from Trump's Twitter — but it's broadcast's trio of (conspicuously all-male) anchors who pull in the viewers. Among them, Muir (9.4 million), Holt (8.9 million) and Glor (6.9 million) are reaching a nightly audience of more than 25 million for 2018. No other corner of TV media boasts their reach and the competition remains tight: Newcomer Glor, 42 and a married father of two, has been on the job only since December, but the start of 2018 has seen an increasingly heated battle between Muir, 44, and Holt, 59, for dominance among adults 25-54. Current advantage: Holt. The newly minted grandfather is averaging more than 2 million in the demo.


    GLOR "Bitcoin."

    HOLT "The Mueller investigation."

    MUIR "The president."


    GLOR Kindle.

    HOLT "[Take] one more scan of the major newspaper online sites to get a jump on the next day."

    MUIR "[Make] sure my ringers are on."


    GLOR: FP's The Editor's Roundtable by Foreign Policy magazine.

    MUIR "Technically, it's not a podcast, but I do listen to Howard Stern's interviews on Sirius on demand. One of the best interviewers on the air."


    HOLT "The time I sat in a puddle of apple juice. At least that's what I hope it was."

    MUIR "When the doors closed and my dad was still on the train. And the train took off. (I found him.)"


    HOLT "Work in progress. I'll tell you when we book it."

    MUIR "The list is too long. Seriously."


  • James Goldston

    WHY HE MATTERS Goldston, 49, claims he isn't exhausted by the relentless pace of news during the first 15 months of Donald Trump's administration. Instead, he calls it "invigorating" and "incredibly exciting." But ABC News also has seen firsthand the "very high" stakes of doing journalism in the Trump era. In December, Goldston decisively suspended investigative reporter Brian Ross for four weeks after he botched a story about Russia collusion — an error that some say tanked the stock market. Trump attacked Ross on Twitter and called for him to be fired, putting pressure on the network. Goldston, newly minted a U.S. citizen in March 2017 and a father of three, lives in Brooklyn with wife Laura Trevelyan, a BBC correspondent. His evening show, World News Tonight With David Muir, consistently outperforms NBC's Nightly News and the CBS Evening News in overall viewers. And, on the morning front, while NBC's Today overtook Good Morning America in the ratings following the departure of Matt Lauer, ABC's entry has been back on top in total viewers since the Winter Olympics.

    LAST THING BEFORE BED, I … "Read a great book — now it's Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday — and then check my phone one last time to find five more big stories breaking."

    THE LUNCH TOPIC I CAN'T AVOID "Donald Trump. There's an endless fascination with this man and this moment."

  • Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Megyn Kelly

    WHY THEY MATTER When NBC News executives fired Matt Lauer after more than two decades as Today's mainstay and biggest star, Guthrie and Kotb were left to pick up the pieces. "It was heavy," says Kotb, who in December adopted a baby girl Haley (after the comet) Joy. There were "a lot of tears," adds Guthrie, a married mom to 3-year-old Vale and 1-year-old Charlie. But since Lauer's exit in November, the show has not missed a beat — and in the three weeks after Lauer left, Today embarked on a winning streak over rival Good Morning America. Kotb, 53, has delivered empathic interviews with newsmakers including Olympic gymnasts at the center of the criminal sex abuse scandal that has rocked the sport. And Guthrie, 46, who earned her chops as NBC's White House correspondent, has taken her place as the show's linchpin. The 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. flagship franchise, which is watched by 4.3 million viewers each day and pulls in close to $500 million in ad revenue annually, is leading GMA by close to 200,000 viewers in the critical 25-to-54 demographic and this season also has a narrow lead (7,000) in total viewers. Meanwhile, Kelly, 47 (married with three young children), whose highly scrutinized 9 a.m. hour bowed in September and is now pulling in 2.4 million viewers, has emerged as a forceful voice of the #MeToo movement via a succession of interviews with accusers while also going toe-to-toe (twice) with Vladimir Putin.


    GUTHRIE "I eat lunch by myself or with my 3-year-old. So it's whether she can watch Peppa Pig."

    KOTB "Kathie Lee's drinking problem."

    KELLY "Who misleads more, Trump or Putin?"


    GUTHRIE "Rex Tillerson. James Comey. Michael Flynn."

    KOTB Hope Hicks

    KELLY Hope Hicks


    KOTB "Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations. My God, just listening to the Maya Angelou two-parter, if you're ever in a bad mood, I promise you it will erase your pain. Whatever your pain is."

    KELLY "Rhymes With by the brilliant and hysterical Kate Cook and Gavin Shulman."


    GUTHRIE "Set my alarm. Drop the iPad."

    KELLY "Triple-check my three alarms."


    KOTB "I got on a crowded subway and there was one seat open and I was like, 'My lucky day!' Everyone's looking at me as I'm sitting in the seat — because there was a puddle on it. I stood my ass up and I was like, like, 'Nobody? Nobody?!'"

  • Sean Hannity

    WHY HE MATTERS Hannity, who averages 3.2 million viewers each night, doesn't just regularly command the largest audience of any cable news host on television. He also has the ear (and the eyes) of the president, who enjoys his primetime show and even cheered on Twitter when Hannity made a guest appearance on Fox & Friends in March. Hannity, 56, is likely the single most influential figure in conservative media (his radio show is heard by more than 11 million each week) and has the power to make or break Republican political candidates. With Bill O'Reilly out of the picture, Hannity seamlessly slid into the top-dog role at the network and doesn't show any signs of slowing down, with firebreathing monologues about Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the topic of Russian collusion that may impact the fate of Trump's presidency.

    THE LUNCH TOPIC I CAN'T AVOID "Lunch — who has time for lunch? I'm busy working every day. Nobody that I know sits down like in the olden days to have lunch. That concept is ridiculous."

    LAST THING BEFORE BED, I … "Read a lot and prepare for the next day, drinking a Coors Light with Homeland or Netflix in the background."

    MY WORST-EVER SUBWAY STORY "When I had a crazy liberal follow me from car to car screaming at me that I am destroying the world. At first I thought it was liberal Joe and Mika."


  • Gayle King, Norah O'Donnell and John Dickerson

    WHY THEY MATTER Until last November when erstwhile host Charlie Rose was fired abruptly after revelations of sexual misconduct, the narrative that most clung to CBS This Morning was the respectable showing (it averages 3.6 million viewers) the program had established after years of morning misfires. CTM — the current incarnation was launched six years ago this past January — is still a success story for the network. And adding Dickerson, the 49-year-old Washington journalist who previously hosted Face the Nation, has bolstered political coverage at a time of unprecedented D.C. chaos. (Dickerson, who's married with two kids, is the son of pioneering newswoman Nancy Dickerson, who worked for PBS, NBC and CBS.) This season, CTM has put the network closer than it's been to Today in 30 years and to Good Morning America in 19. And with King, 63, and O'Donnell, a 44-year-old mom of three young children, at the helm, the show has maintained its audience, which is far from good enough. "Do you know anybody that wants to be in third place if there's a one, two, three race?" asks King, who has one daughter and one son with her ex-husband. "I'll go first. No." Adds O'Donnell, "I'm very frustrated. I want to win. That's who I am."


    KING " 'Please tell Oprah to run for president.'"

    DICKERSON "What hour I wake up."


    KING "Set my alarm."

    O'DONNELL "Chat with my kids about their day and then read through any late-night notes on the next day's broadcast."

    DICKERSON "Pray."


    KING "Hope Hicks, James Comey, Rex Tillerson. I don't even know Rex Tillerson, but my heart went out to him to be fired by a tweet."

    O'DONNELL Hope Hicks


    KING "Last time I was with favorite daughter Kirby, who takes the subway often, and she said I looked so nervous it was making her uncomfortable."

    O'DONNELL "Took the subway home after running the Brooklyn half-marathon. Learned the hard way it's not good to sit for 45 minutes after a long race!"


    KING Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations

    DICKERSON Slate's Culture Gabfest


    DICKERSON "My first visit to his office in spring of 2015 — there is so much stuff in there! Pictures upon pictures, a gold shovel, a gun on the wall. The human eye can't take it all in without requiring its owner to take a nap. He said Time magazine had been there the day before with a bald eagle. Of course, they had. Oh, and Robert Kraft was in there."

  • Andrew Lack, Noah Oppenheim and Phil Griffin

    WHY THEY MATTER Lack, 70, is still trying to wrap his head around Trump's attacks on NBC News ("dishonest and disgusting," "fake news"), which he's called an "out-of-body experience." When not defending his network (and, this fall, its handling of Ronan Farrow's Harvey Weinstein reporting), Lack, the husband of a Snap executive, is talking tough, pushing the Facebooks and Twitters of the world to start compensating publishers for content. Presidential barbs aside, NBC News and MSNBC have been riding high during Trump's administration. Today, Nightly News, Meet the Press and Dateline all won the 25-to-54 demo important to advertisers in 2017, and Today is even beating ABC's Good Morning America in total viewers for the first time in six seasons. NBC News, led by 39-year-old Oppenheim (a married dad of three), is regularly breaking Trump-Russia scoops and has invested heavily in a youth-focused daily Snapchat show, Stay Tuned. On 61-year-old Griffin's MSNBC, a lineup of star hosts including Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes continues to dominate CNN's primetime talent.


    GRIFFIN Masters of Scale


  • Mark Lazarus, Sean McManus and James Pitaro

    WHY THEY MATTER Being the first network in more than a quarter-century to air both the Super Bowl and the Olympics in the same year meant flying 100 NBC personnel directly from Minneapolis to South Korea the day after the Philadelphia Eagles' victory. "You're amped up but also gassed out," says Lazarus, 54, a married father of three. "There's not many other things that bring people of multiple generations together like the Super Bowl or the Olympics." CBS will get a crack at the former next February, by which time analyst Tony Romo will have two full seasons of experience in the booth. Credit McManus, 63 and a married father of two, for the bold decision to put the newly retired player on the No. 1 team alongside Jim Nantz last fall. "We always thought it was a manageable risk," says McManus. "No one knows how good someone will be until that red light goes on, and Tony proved he was worthy of the assignment." It's not unlike the position Pitaro, 48, finds himself in after being named to ESPN's top spot March 5. Among other responsibilities, the married father of two and Peloton fan, who is relocating from L.A. to Bristol, Conn., will oversee the direct-to-consumer streaming service ESPN+, launching April 12.


    LAZARUS "Everyone wants to talk about the Olympics in the six-month window leading up to and coming out of the Games."

    PITARO "Disney and ESPN's direct-to-consumer plans. Or, now, tickets!"


    LAZARUS "Kiss my wife."

    MCMANUS "It sounds saccharine but it happens to be true: I give thanks for all of my blessings, both personal and professional."


    PITARO "Every subway ride home after a Yankee loss!"


    PITARO "On the family front, I always check in on my kids. For work, I like to ensure I've responded to every email before I go to sleep. It's sometimes impossible, but it's always a goal."


  • Don Lemon

    WHY HE MATTERS When CNN hands its viewers Lemon, an average 341,000 adults 25-to-54 tune in. That makes him the network's third-highest-rated host and CNN Tonight one of its scant Top 20 cable news telecasts. Not for nothing, he's also the only person of color in cable news with his own primetime vehicle. The 52- year-old Louisiana native has drawn the affections of pop culture (guest appearances on Black-ish and Empire) and the comedic ire of the commander in chief. Lemon recently revealed that Trump allegedly has a sweet nickname for him: "Sour Lemon."

    THE LUNCH TOPIC I CAN'T AVOID "Stormy Daniels and Trump administration chaos."

    LAST THING BEFORE BED, I ... "Besides praying for clarity and strength, I flip over my phone onto its face so that it doesn't light up the room and wake me up. Work emails are relentless. Twenty-four hours. Hundreds a day."


    MY GO-TO PODCAST Desus and Mero and On One With Angela Rye

    MY WORST-EVER SUBWAY STORY "We all get stuck between stations for long periods for sick passengers, track work or — God forbid — an accident. But I think the worst was a deranged person who got in my face and yelled at me because he thought I was some sort of an official of Canada due to my Goose crest on my coat. Luckily, we reached the stop, the doors opened, and I escaped."


  • Rachel Maddow

    WHY SHE MATTERS The face of MNSBC, 45, is the No. 1 host in all of cable news, topping Fox News' Sean Hannity (her time slot rival as of September 2017) by a slim 2,000 viewers, year to date, with a nightly audience of 664,000 in the 25-to-54 demo and the most robust year-to-year growth across the genre. For 2018, her critique of the Trump administration has her showing in the key news demo up 17 percent from 2017 — as nearly all others are betraying signs of ratings fatigue. Maddow, who lives with longtime partner Susan Mikula in Western Massachusetts and spends her weekdays in the city, courts affection from both liberals and conservatives.

    LAST THING BEFORE BED, I ... "Try to make myself stop thinking about the special counsel regulations at the Justice Department."

  • Seth Meyers

    WHY HE MATTERS Four years into his tenure, Meyers has found his groove by offering some of the sharpest political commentary in Trump-era late night. The 44-year-old, who is locked into the show through 2021, has also established Late Night as a destination for serious conversation — as in January, when he made it clear his show wouldn't be the usual stop on The Disaster Artist media tour for James Franco, instead grilling the star on accusations of sexual misconduct in a segment that racked up nearly 1.5 million YouTube views. Late Night outpaces its 12:30 a.m. competition on ABC and CBS in every key viewership measure. In addition to hosting the Golden Globes in January, Meyers, whose second son with wife Alexi Ashe was born on April 8 — in dramatic fashion in the lobby of the couple's Manhattan apartment building — also serves as an executive producer on NBC comedy A.P. Bio.

    LAST THING BEFORE BED, I ... "Tell my wife that I love her. She doesn't hear because she's been asleep for an hour or so. She has a real job."

    THE EX-TRUMP STAFFER I'D MOST LIKE TO INTERVIEW "Anyone who can make it a full month."

    MY GO-TO PODCAST The Daily!

  • Lorne Michaels

    WHY HE MATTERS Forty-three seasons in, Michaels' Saturday Night Live remains in the national zeitgeist — and, for the first time in two and a half decades, earned the variety sketch series Emmy in September (it also tied with Westworld for the year's most nominations with 22). Though the ratings have dipped from the election-season highs (it still averages 9.6 million viewers), Trump continues to be a source of inspiration and promotion. In early March, the president was busy tweeting to his nearly 50 million followers about his distaste for the show and Alec Baldwin, the actor who won an Emmy for playing him. The 73-year-old Michaels, a married father of three, also serves as an executive producer on The Tonight Show and Late Night.


  • Adam Moss, David Remnick and Anna Wintour

    WHY THEY MATTER In the thinning glossy jungle, these three reign supreme. But while Trump has been a boon to publishing, you won't hear much celebrating. "I pray I don't dream about politics," says Remnick. "Daytime is nightmare enough." Under the stewardship of the 59-year-old father of three — he's helmed The New Yorker since 1992 — the venerable weekly has seen circulation and traffic increase as it offers a powerful voice to the #Resistance. With Ronan Farrow's Harvey Weinstein exposé, the magazine also was a key instigator of the #MeToo movement. "It's hard to imagine that anyone, in the office or anywhere else, isn't more alert, more thoughtful, about a range of essential issues now," says Remnick. "And thank God." At New York, Moss (there since 2004) has provided essential reading on White House palace intrigue, including the first excerpt from Michael Wolff's explosive Fire and Fury. Wintour, 68 and the mother of Charlie and Bee (both in their 30s), installed new Vanity Fair editor Radhika Jones (who earned woke points with a Lena Waithe cover) and continues to edit Vogue, as she has since 1988 — albeit in a much more challenged media climate than the go-go '80s.


    REMNICK "The desire to get through lunch without mentioning politics."

    MOSS "Trump, Weinstein, Cambridge Analytica, John Bolton, North Korea. All apocalypse, all the time. I miss gossip."


    REMNICK "It involves someone eating Chinese food and someone else applying nail polish. On a very crowded train. It does not end well."


    REMNICK "Malcolm Gladwell is a master at the form. So, it's Revisionist History. Two Dope Queens is damned funny. And the Watergate podcast, Slow Burn, is apt for the times."

  • Trevor Noah

    WHY HE MATTERS Since taking the reins from Jon Stewart in 2015, Noah has established his own version of the biting political commentary for which The Daily Show is beloved, distinguished by his unique perspective as a South African export. The host, who walks to work from his midtown penthouse, has helped the Comedy Central mainstay become the second-highest-rated late-night talk show among 18-to-34 millenials — behind only The Tonight Show — and the top-rated one among millennial men. What's more, Daily Show viewership was up 15 percent in 2017 compared with 2016, and he's keeping those numbers steady at 1.3 million viewers this season. Not only will the 34-year-old — who says he's looking forward to the midterm elections and soccer's World Cup in equal measure — remain in the host's seat through 2022, but he also inked a wide-ranging content deal with parent Viacom. This means that any new films, shows or shortform videos he creates will remain in-house and not end up at, well, Netflix. His first project? The film adaptation of his best-selling memoir, Born a Crime, with Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o.

    LAST THING BEFORE BED, I … "It used to be reading the news, but now I pause and don't do that. I stretch and breathe."

    THE EX-TRUMP STAFFER I MOST WANT TO INTERVIEW "Sean Spicer I don't think would ever say anything. Scaramucci wasn't there long enough to say anything. So I think it would probably be Reince Priebus."

    MY GO-TO PODCAST Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations

    MY MEMORABLE TRUMP MOMENT "Just walking by Trump Tower and seeing how there's partially always a protest every single day. It's really fascinating to watch."

  • John Oliver

    WHY HE MATTERS With his weekly HBO talk series in the thick of its fifth season, Oliver seems to have perfected the art of irking the current administration and simultaneously cutting through the late-night clutter. Nothing was more potent evidence of that than his clever spoof of Vice President Mike Pence's children's book A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo (a gay twist on Pence's Focus on the Family-endorsed rabbit tale) that quickly sold out on Amazon. Never one to shy away from touchy subjects, the 40-year-old (with the help of HBO) emerged victorious in February from a legal battle against a coal baron executive Oliver had criticized on air. Last Week Tonight — now drawing 5.7 million weekly viewers across all platforms and holding steady from last season — has taken home consecutive Emmys for writing and variety talk show.

  • Jane Pauley and Rand Morrison

    WHY THEY MATTER The word "venerable" gets thrown around a lot with newsmagazines, but it's not hyperbole with CBS Sunday Morning. Heading toward its 40th anniversary, the show, hosted since October 2016 by Pauley, 67 — a mother of three and grandmother of two with cartoonist husband Garry Trudeau — has accolades (Peabody Awards, a 2018 Daytime Emmy nom), big gets (Jimmy Carter) and big numbers (5 million-plus weekly viewers). Under executive producer Morrison, 68, who has been at CBS News for 36 years since starting out as an overnight writer, CBS Sunday Morning has skimmed some major dividends from sister 60 Minutes: it debuted Oprah Winfrey's headline-making January interview with the women of Time's Up.


    PAULEY "The Second Avenue subway will not be completed in my lifetime. Meanwhile, I live life aboveground. Decades ago, I rode a Fifth Avenue bus with Meryl Streep but was too shy to speak to her (thus wondering what kind of newswoman I was) when her party disembarked and an older woman paused to say, 'I'm Meryl's mother-in-law. I'm from Indianapolis too!'"


    PAULEY "I interviewed Mr. Trump almost 40 years ago. He told me taxi drivers were his biggest fans and that people liked to touch him because they thought he was 'lucky.'"


    PAULEY "Crosstown traffic is still the worst. Next year I hope I can say, 'I gave up on cabs and Uber and just walk!' But then I'd have to find something else to complain about."

  • David Rhodes

    WHY HE MATTERS Rhodes has navigated a thicket of challenges as the #MeToo movement has upended the news industry, toppling Charlie Rose and inviting scrutiny about the culture at CBS News. The 44-year-old married father of two boys — a born and bred New Yorker who got engaged in Tribeca's Duane Park and favors running in Morningside Park for its "bigger hills and brighter sunrises" — remains a favorite of CBS CEO Leslie Moonves. He was forced to execute a hasty transition at CBS This Morning amid the Rose scandal and a more ordered one at the CBS Evening News, where Jeff Glor was named in October to replace anchor Scott Pelley. But the revelations about Rose have forced a reckoning at the news division. Accepting the First Amendment Service Award from the Radio Television Digital News Foundation in March, Rhodes said of the Time's Up era: "This is going to be, at times, a painful process that some would rather not go through, but our work is getting better and better for it."

    LAST THING BEFORE BED, I … "Read a physical book."

  • Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest

    WHY THEY MATTER After a very public audition process that saw scores of potential co-hosts come through the show, Ripa, 47 and a mom of three, tapped Seacrest, 43, as her partner in May. In the months since, the pair has seen viewership rise nearly 15 percent to 3.2 million viewers each day. Though Seacrest's personal brand took a hit after an allegation of sexual misconduct by a former personal stylist (he was cleared by a network investigation), the show's guest bookings have not. Seacrest continues to front a suite of radio shows, too, as well as emcee red carpets, oversee a clothing line and a skin-care brand and host ABC's revival of American Idol. Ripa, via her Milojo Productions (with her actor-husband, Mark Consuelos), produces such series as Logo's Fire Island on the side.


    RIPA "Donald Trump, Robert Mueller, Stormy Daniels and her insanely telegenic attorney Michael Avenatti."

    SEACREST "I bring my lunch to the studio most days. We spend a lot of time talking about food, our vacations and the next stunt that [executive producer Michael] Gelman is trying to make us do."


    RIPA "Read."

    SEACREST "Let Georgia, my dog, out to 'do her business.'"


    SEACREST "Tim Ferris and Tony Robbins both have great podcasts, and I've enjoyed Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations too."

  • Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinksi

    WHY THEY MATTER Being Trump's sworn enemies is good for business. Morning Joe — which celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2017 — notched record ratings for MSNBC during the 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. period, averaging slightly more than 1 million viewers (vs. CNN's 634,000) and 226,000 in the 25-to-54 demographic. With an audience that skews young, wealthy and educated, the show posted slightly more growth than Fox News in the 25-to-54 crowd (up 36 percent, compared with Fox News' 32 percent gain). Numbers for the first quarter of 2018 were particularly impressive, with Morning Joe averaging 249,000 — an all-time high — in 25-to-54. The show shrugged off one controversy, losing regular Mark Halperin (who went down amid multiple accusations of sexual harassment), and Scarborough made headlines in October when he officially left the GOP. The pair, who came out as a couple in THR's New York issue last year, announced their engagement a month later in May.


    BRZEZINSKI "Trump, Trump and more Trump."






  • Ben Smith

    WHY HE MATTERS Smith's 300-person newsroom emerged relatively unscathed from a November reorganization at BuzzFeed that eliminated about 100 business positions, a sign of the priority of the division's journalism (and more than 250 million monthly page views) as it becomes increasingly difficult to monetize the quizzes and cat videos that were once the site's core. Smith, 41, has also kept BuzzFeed competitive on some of the biggest stories of the past year, including an in-depth report on a series of Russian-ordered assassinations in the U.K. and exposés on the sexual-harassment allegations against Kevin Spacey, R. Kelly and Rep. John Conyers. "These are stories that we have cared about for a long time," notes the married father of three, who in February was the subject of speculation about a potential BuzzFeed News investment from Laurene Powell Jobs' Emerson Collective. Meanwhile, Smith's news team also has expanded into video with daily Twitter talk show AM to DM.

    THE LUNCH TOPIC I CAN'T AVOID "The goddamn subways."

    MY WORST-EVER SUBWAY STORY "I recently heard two men angrily fantasizing about murdering Andrew Cuomo — really."

    MY MEMORABLE TRUMP MOMENT "The ban on covering him when I was at the New York Observer (pre-Jared Kushner) because he was too easy to reach and overexposed."

    HOW MY COMMUTE HAS CHANGED IN THE PAST YEAR "I've switched from taking the express bus and sometimes Lyft/Uber to more subway, because as traffic has gotten worse, the terrible subway is — relatively speaking — sometimes more reliable."

  • George Stephanopoulos, Robin Roberts and Michael Strahan

    WHY THEY MATTER The morning stalwart has lost its ratings crown to NBC's Today at a time of dwindling audiences across the board. Still, the show remains a powerhouse destination with sought-after bookings, including 46-year-old Strahan's sit-down with Terry Crews in which the actor detailed sexual-assault allegations against WME agent Adam Venit. Stephanopoulos, 57, also continues to anchor Sunday program This Week, and the father of two daughters (with writer-actress wife Ali Wentworth) has landed the first, coveted spot with fired FBI director James Comey for an April 15 primetime special in sync with the release of Comey's book, A Higher Loyalty. Meanwhile, Roberts, 57, who's been with her partner for more than a decade, continues to broaden her slate beyond morning TV. She's producing an ABC pilot with Pam Veasey and Regina King, about five sisters who are high-ranking officers in the NYPD (the story ran on GMA in 2016).


    STEPHANOPOULOS "The Mueller investigation."


    STEPHANOPOULOS "Kiss my girls good night."

    STRAHAN "Pray!"

    ROBERTS "Set my diffuser. My partner, Amber, is into all these essential oils. And pray for sleep."


    STEPHANOPOULOS H.R. McMaster and Gary Cohn.


    STRAHAN TED Radio Hour

    ROBERTS No Limits With Rebecca Jarvis


    ROBERTS "The last one, the worst one, was coming from the [U.S.] Open on the subway, and I don't want to get into specifics, but I had been rooting for a particular person and there were people on the train who were rooting for the other person and it got very lively."


    STEPHANOPOULOS "I walk more."

    STRAHAN "It's a lot earlier!"

  • Howard Stern

    WHY HE MATTERS The bizarre but addictive world of radio giant Stern — where probing interviews with the likes of Jennifer Lawrence and Stephen Colbert sit uneasily alongside ones with homebred luminaries like High Pitch Erik and Jeff the Drunk — seems an unlikely recipe for success in 2018's highly fragmented media landscape. Yet Stern's unprecedented (and, in all likelihood, unreplicable) airwave supremacy remains a glimmering example of the enduring power of personality in media. While Stern, who is married to animal rights activist Beth Ostrovsky Stern and has three daughters from a previous marriage, has not flourished much outside of radio — he has repeatedly expressed regret at a four-year judging stint on NBC's America's Got Talent — his three decades of dominance within his medium (during which he coaxed a number of startling admissions from Trump) suggest he doesn't need to. Up next: SiriusXM, which the 64-year-old helped build into a 32 million-subscriber broadcasting giant, is launching a long-planned Stern video service in the second quarter.


  • Jeff Zucker

    WHY HE MATTERS Zucker is in Trump's head. Despite being the single most important person in the world, the president hasn't been able to drop his beef with the CNN chief, who as an NBC executive years ago helped make Trump a pop-culture phenomenon by greenlighting The Apprentice. The president has tried to will the 53-year-old Zucker's firing by predicting it on Twitter, but the former NBCUniversal CEO and father of four is still standing — though the sale of CNN parent Time Warner to AT&T might change that — and has led the company to record profits since taking over in January 2013. While CNN is regularly behind Fox News and MSNBC in total viewers, the network is strong in the 25-to-54 demo that advertisers prize, ratings are up since Trump was elected (but down 16 percent in primetime from 2017) and Zucker says the past three years have been the best in the network's history.

    LAST THING BEFORE BED, I … "Turn off the TV."

    MY MEMORABLE TRUMP MOMENT "He offered me a free membership to his golf club because he said I was such a great guy."


    This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.