This a.m. I looked in on that weird marriage: Charlie and Gayle over on Ch. 2 CBS used to be known as the Tiffany network. CBS was the network of Edward R. Murrow, Sixty Minutes, I Love Lucy and Gunsmoke. William Paley ran a sterling news department with the help of Walter Cronkite, Eric Sevareid, et al. Fred Friendly who invented practically everything good about television headed the news division. Time went by. Wm Paley died. President Frank Stanton died. Another century rolled in and a bunch of high school kids took over CBS. They decided it was time for perky on the evening news. They hired Katie Couric at a staggering salary and the first night, seated at the iconic evening news desk of the Tiffany network, she said, “Hi, everybody.”
I wrote off CBS as the dumb ass network until recently when it became the wacky, monkeys-throwing-darts network and the darts landed on the slow-spoken Charlie Rose and the blindly confident Gayle King. Why this duo isn’t beating the rating pants off of NBC and ABC is a mystery. It’s like watching a movie called “The Professor and the “most-improved” student." CBS not only thought outside the box, they pushed the envelope and crashed right through the bubble wrap. I would say it was inspired except that --- okay it was inspired.
One of the ironies here is that while Oprah lost some of her muscle futzing around with OWN, her tag along sidekick Gayle, became an anchor at the Tiffany network. Does anyone else see the All About Eve-ness of this? The morning I watched, Gayle interviewed Oprah and she seemed to know more about her than Oprah knew about herself. Charlie asked Oprah if she was upset because she had slipped a couple of rungs on the “most powerful women” list. Oprah said she wasn’t upset. Oprah, by the way, looked very good.
True to his PBS self, Charlie also interviewed Elon Musk, an important person I had never heard of. Elon Musk is the genius that co-founded PayPal and the innovative CEO of Tesla, the electric car company. Currently, he was also the CEO of SpaceX and has been encouraged by Nasa to get us all up to Mars in the next few years and make it possible to walk around that planet un-tethered and have a good time. Charlie asked Mr. Musk what was the one thing about him that made him not only think about but implement all of these fantastic ideas. And here was his answer: Most people take a new idea and think of it through analogy, I take it down to a fundamental principle usually physics. Ok. I don’t even know what that means but I know it’s more interesting than hearing Matt Damon talk about his latest movie or Beyonce talk about what it feels like to be a new mother.
Immediately after the Musk interview, Gayle led us through the daring rescue of a goat by a pig. Yes, a pig rescued a goat. Well, he nudged the goat in the right direction to get out of a pond and pushed it a little with his snout. In this content starved society, that pig/goat nudge made the morning show and the Yahoo home page.
Back to the weird marriage. Charlie is someone who has made us believe he is smart by interviewing accomplished people most of us have never heard of. Charlie is not a particularly brilliant interviewer but people will say, “Oh, I love Charlie Rose.” Charlie makes us feel smart and responsible, otherwise why would we be watching PBS and listening to Aung San Suu Kyi, Dick Costolo, Bill Browder, Salman Rushdie, or Martin Amis, a British novelist who has appeared with Charlie 11 times.
As for Gayle, she is just this side of brash - saying exactly what’s on her mind rather than what the earpiece is feeding her. Maybe that confidence comes from the power of Oprah behind her. I like Gayle although I could never be her close friend. She doesn’t have enough angst to understand my references and that’s the important point. The book in my kindle shop that sells the best doesn’t have one funny line in it and no irony. It’s just a good story. So maybe Gayle and Charlie are just straight out being themselves - not trying to be funny or annoyingly self-aware and that makes them sell well. I’m going to watch some more.