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Fortune's Power 25
Aired July 21, 2003 - 20:50 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Americans say the economy is by far their biggest concern, which brings us to this question: who are the 25 most powerful business people in America today? "Fortune" magazine has put together its first version of that list, which has just been posted on the fortune.com. It hits news stands next week.
Beth Fenner is senior editor at "Fortune," which is owned by our parent company, AOL Time Warner, and she's kind enough to share this exclusively this evening. Welcome.
BETH FENNER, "FORTUNE" Thank you.
ZAHN: So how many fights were there over who should be on the top 25 list?
FENNER: We had lots of lively discussions. We thought, well, you know, Bill Gates and Steve Balmer are both powerful from the same company. Which -- should we have one? Should we have one? Should we have both? How many women? I mean, it was very, very lively talking.
ZAHN: Was Warren Buffet leading the list contested at all?
FENNER: I have to say, we -- that was the one thing we all agreed on. It just was a given that Warren -- how could Warren not be No. 1?
And then No. 2 was Bill Gates and we'll put up 3, 4 and 5 for our audience to see -- Bill followed by Lee Scott, who I think we will see here shortly -- Sandy Weill and then Rupert Murdoch. You weren't surprised by any of these choices.
Some people thought Rupert shouldn't have been so far up, but Ted Turner, who's affiliated with our company, of course -- referred to him as the most dangerous man in media because he sort of rules his empire with an iron fist - -News Corp. He owns satellites and newspapers and, you know, can really -- is not shy about disseminating exactly what he thinks and making his sons his successors and he really is an old-fashioned kind of power mogul.
ZAHN: Now if you go down the list, you have to keep on scrolling through and scrolling through to find a woman on the list. And you finally, what, at number what end up with Carly Fiorina?
FENNER: No. 19. Carly Fiorina from Hewlett Packard, CEO. She is by far -- we do a women's power list as well and she's been No. 1 for the past several years. She's clearly the most powerful in American business and more powerful than any other women and no other woman made it into the 25 at all.
ZAHN: Now, did that surprise you? That she was -- the lone female stander on that list?
FENNER: I'm actually glad she made it at all. I mean, because women, sadly, are not at that level yet. I mean, there are plenty of -- there are a few women CEOs in the Fortune 500, but just a handful and maybe that'll change soon, but so far it's been a tough slot.
ZAHN: There were three African American men on the list.
FENNER: There were.
ZAHN: One of them, who also works for the AOL Time Warner family. But in addition to Dick Parsons, there was Franklin Raines and Stan O'Neal.
FENNER: That's right. Franklin Raines was the highest at No. 12 and he is -- as the CEO of Fannie Mae it's sort of on his shoulders to make sure the housing market stays strong and that's a huge responsibility and something he has done a good job at sort of showing how he has controlled that and so we had to give him credit for that.
ZAHN: And who are you most disappointed who is not on the list?
FENNER: Well, I would liked to have seen more women. We talked about Meg Whitman of eBay but she was -- the company is just too small to really bump up against. But the bottom person was Rick Wagner the CEO of General Motors, which is the second biggest in the country.
FENNER: So it's -- when you sort of balance those out, it's tough to really get her in there.
ZAHN: And that is how you explain that Oprah wasn't anywhere at the top of that list.
FENNER: Well Oprah -- Oprah's power consists in her influence. She can -- when says buy a book, the nation does that. But it's something that she has already said she will stop doing her show at a certain point and she's sort of dialing back her power now, so she really wasn't on there.
ZAHN: Well, it's a fascinating read and thank you for sharing it with us so early. Beth Fenner, appreciate you dropping by.
FENNER: Thank you.
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