Rattner covered the big stories of the Carter administration and, in the process, befriended some of its most influential members, who’d later usher him into his second career. It became a Rattner trademark to slip under the wing of great men—he did it elegantly, without Like Rohatyn, Rattner was a student of economic policy—he could hold his own with Summers—and also wrote op-eds. He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and he chaired Channel 13. And at every turn, he carefully cultivated the social and political connections these positions yielded. Elected officials, intellectuals, journalists, businessmen gathered at his apartment a mile north of Rohatyn’s—his own Fifth Avenue “salon,” as Harvey Weinstein called it.

apparent slavishness. “In his life, he’s cultivated the people who were important to his success at the time, and he’s done that extraordinarily well,” says a person who’s worked with him.

Rattner cultivated CEOs like he’d once cultivated sources, he has said, and they trusted him. In these interactions, Rattner’s restrained style worked. He let the CEOs be the stars. Rattner appeared to possess the subordinate ego in the room, an alpha carefully disguised as a beta. Rattner’s approach came naturally. He can seem effete, almost precious. He wears nicely cut suits with high-waisted pants, round tortoiseshell glasses, and speaks about almost every topic in the same even-toned, matter-of-fact way. “I’ve never encountered anybody with as much mojo who has less charisma,” says one person who worked for him. Still, in his low-key style, Rattner talked bluntly. As Craig McCaw, now CEO of Clearwire, says, “Some investment bankers are prone to tell you more of what you want to hear. That would not be Steve. He tells people what they don’t want to see about their own business,” a

— Steve Rattner  

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