NEW YORK — Conventional wisdom has it that one of the most uncomfortable places to find oneself is in a room with free food and drink — populated entirely by journalists.
Such was the case on Monday at Gotham’s swank midtown eatery, the Four Seasons, as Steven Brill formally launched his new consumer media magazine, Brill’s Content.
The media elite were jammed in elbow to elbow, crowding around the two bars and grabbing for bits of caviar, mini-lambchops and a host of other delectable treats that quickly vanished.
Mike Wallace and Morley Safer, stars of “60 Minutes,” were seen making their way to the back of the room, apparently unfazed by a piece written by Brill’s Content reporter Greg Farrell about a 1986 “Minutes” expose on a problem with Audis.
In the opposite corner of the room, Internet gossip columnist-cum-TV host Matt Drudge (whose new Fox News Channel show, “Drudge,” starts Saturday) was seen with agent Lucianne Goldberg, laughing it up and dishing dirt on Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein — who was standing just inches away.
About the gossip, which shall remain unmentioned here, Goldberg told Daily Variety, “I ought to know, I used to live in a house with him.”
Former FCC chairman Reed Hundt was all smiles as he chatted with Drudge, too, explaining that he was “doing research” for his new book, “You Say You Want a Revolution,” due next year from Broadway Books.
Nowhere to be found was Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, the subject of Brill’s inaugural issue cover story, which claims Starr and a top deputy admitted to giving reporters anonymous tips about the President Clinton sex/perjury scandal. On Tuesday, Starr fired off a 19-page letter to the editor saying the Brill-penned piece is full of falsehoods and “borders on the libelous.”
Brill briefly stood at a podium high above the gathered scribes and talking heads, offering little more than his thanks to his family, his editorial team and his backers — including Barry Diller, who was seen checking out early with a rolled-up copy of his investment in hand.
For a man who has set himself up as the guy who will hold the news media accountable, Brill received quite a warm reception from a roomful of would-be targets.
Then again, it was probably just the free fixin’s that kept the natives friendly.