As often happens in life, there are reversals of
circumstances that are novelistic and almost unbelievable. Just such a reversal of roles has happened to
Gayle and her best friend Oprah. When
Oprah’s talk show was on the air, the relationship between the women had a
relaxed bond yet one thing was clear:
Oprah was the wellspring from which Gayle’s celebrity and relevance
flowed. Oprah had created the platform
and the celebrity and the power. About five years ago, Gayle King, a woman we only knew as a
confident, sometimes annoying sidekick to Oprah, the queen of all media,
suddenly showed up on Channel 2, CBS, the Tiffany network once run by William
Paley, the man who gave us Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather and
Yes. Gayle, the spunky Oprah tag along, is now a newscaster
and not only a newscaster but a credible colleague of Charlie Rose. This is the no nonsense PBS Charlie Rose, a
man who became iconic when PBS was still the holy network and not flooded with
self-help marathons. Charlie interviews diplomats and world leaders and Nobel
prize winners and tech titans and even hip hop moguls in a quiet intimate
setting without commercial interruptions.
When I first reviewed the Charlie and Gayle morning show a
few years ago, they appeared to me as The Professor and The Most Improved
Student but now – five years in- Gayle has earned her position. Whenever Oprah is a guest on the show, it is
apparent that their old dynamic has changed.
Gayle has her good serious show and Oprah is just a guest. The darned tables are turned.
There is no documentation but I’m sure there was a
conversation in the big master bedroom in Oprah’s estate in Montecito that went
Oprah: I was on CBS
this morning. I couldn’t help but feel that something had shifted. I’m now the sidekick and Gayle is the one who
stays on the show after my segment is over.
It felt weird.
Stedman: Were you jealous?
jealous. After all I have a whole
network even though no one can find it.
I have my own network and all the money.
Stedman: But what felt weird?
Oprah: Gayle has something more interesting and more
immediately exciting. She has
credibility on a respected network news show.
Gayle has Charlie Rose and I only have Weight Watchers and The Girls
Academy and my soul podcasts and a lot of money.
Stedman: Do you wish you had a news show?
Oprah: I don’t know.
Maybe. It just felt weird.
You can imagine my surprise a few Sundays back when Sixty Minutes announced a new special
correspondent. It was Oprah. Yes.
She was a special correspondent on Gayle’s own network. On the
sacrosanct Sixty Minutes. Don Hewitt must have at least shifted in his
grave. God knows what Mike Wallace is
saying. Andy Rooney would like it.
Oprah’s segment was about America’s political divide.
Life is reliably weird.