In addition to honorees like her girlfriends (Ron Meyer’s wife, Kelly; De Niro’s wife, Grace Hightower; casino king Steve Wynn’s ex-wife, Elaine—who, to her credit, says, “I think I’m less a game changer than a hood ornament”), Huffington has wangled not only Andrew Cuomo but also his father, Mario, to come to the event, and even Kim Kardashian. She’s very excited about meeting Kardashian, and her voice trembles a little as she announces that “this woman has 10 million followers on Twitter, and so many jobs that she’s a one-woman jobs program!” Some attendees made speeches—Brian Williams sniped a little at her, like most old-media people do, about “Le Huffington Post” in France being another way that she can make “plus d’argent” from those among us, like him, who make “la content”—and afterward, Huffington taped some interviews. “You’ve had such an extraordinary career: What is the one thing that stands for you?” she asked Gayle King, who smirked a little and said, “One thing that stands out in my extraordinary career, huh?” Huffington recalibrated. “In the future,” she asked, “is there something that sticks out that will give you more joy?” King instantly softened. It works every time.
With this kind of fairy dust, Huffington is sure to succeed. Even if Huffington Post doesn’t manage to save AOL, she has plausible deniability, because everyone will believe that AOL is to blame. At the same time, the way out for her is not clear. Even if AOL manages a big sale to a company like Google, it’s not necessarily a victory—she’ll have to build herself a new life.
Then again, she’s done it before. “Everything I want to do, everything I care about, everything I may care about tomorrow but I don’t know that I care about today, I can do at AOL,” she tells me. “This is my last incarnation.”
But who would believe her?