The story started in whispers at a party. "You worked for Arianna Huffington?" I asked a new acquaintance. "Got any gossip?"
My new acquaintance rattled through the usual bromidic ambivalence that the subordinates of charismatic moguls tend to favor. Working for the infamous Huffington Post founder is "fast-paced." Arianna "pushes hard," but is "not as bad as the rumors." She calls at all hours of the day, which can be intimidating. But it can also be intimate. Like when she converses with you by phone while going to the bathroom. Loudly.
"There were definitely noises," my acquaintance said. "She didn't know to mute the phone."
So I sought corroboration from other sources. "She was always bluetoothing in the bathroom," said a female employee who overheard Arianna in the restroom stalls of HuffPo's old SoHo office, as well as through the walls of "adjacent private bathrooms" at the new AOL/HuffPo. "Always." She suspects Arianna stuck to number one in shared restrooms. "I wish she would have shit because it would make for a better story."
"I don't remember hand washing either way so it probably didn't happen," she concludes.
"I heard something about that," added another Huffington underling, speaking of his boss' chatty bathroom habits. He was vague on the details, but gleefully offered a run-down of his boss' dietary quirks. (Huffington's favorite food is "smoked salmon," he explained, and "she never consumes salt.")
Two others said the bathroom story "sounds like" Huffington, who refuses to cut conversations short, regardless of practical considerations. One employee recalled a "heated" meeting with Arianna that went long. As evening neared, Huffington ordered the employee into the back of her chauffeured town car so they could continue the conversation for the duration of Arianna's ride from HuffPo's SoHo office to her dinner on the Upper East Side. When they arrived, Arianna hopped out, slammed the door, and instructed the car to turn around and bring the employee back downtown.
[Image via Jim Cooke]