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Gayle King’s dream guests for her new gig as co-host on CBS This Morning are Jay-Z and Beyonce. “They don’t even have to bring baby Blue,” she said, referring to the couple’s newborn daughter. King also would like to get Prince William and Kate Middleton, who she admitted to being “smitten” with.
Meanwhile, her co-host Charlie Rose would like to sit down for a lengthy interview with Nelson Mandela.
It is three days into the new morning program. And King and Rose appeared with colleague Erica Hill and executive producer Chris Licht – via satellite from New York – at winter press tour.
Both King and Rose have a Rolodex of famous friends to draw upon for CBS This Morning. On Wednesday, Harvey Weinstein and Michelle Obama appeared on the show. Rose has hosted Weinstein multiple times on his PBS program. And King acknowledged that the First Lady is a “friend.” But she countered that just because she has a personal relationship with her subject does not mean she’ll go easy on them. Licht pointed out that King pressed the First Lady on assertions in the new book The Obamas of tension with Obama administration press secretary Robert Gibbs. “Did you see that interview?” Licht asked rhetorically.
Rose added that he does not pressure his friends to appear on either CBS This Morning or his eponymous PBS interview show.
“I don’t think Harvey seriously believed that he had to come on because I asked him or that there would be repercussions if he didn’t,” said Rose. “What you owe the audience is transparency and to ask the questions that are smart and get to the essence of the [issue].”
CBS This Morning bowed Monday to 2.68 million viewers, notching a slight uptick (5 percent) in households compared to the network’s December average. The re-booted morning show is the second attempt in as many years to turn perennially third place CBS News into a contender in the lucrative morning news game.
“We are very well aware that CBS has not been No. 1 [in the morning] since Captain Kangaroo,” said King. “But in the past what CBS News has tried to do is what the other guys do. I believe you just keep trying until you get it right.”
Jeff Fager and David Rhodes — who took over as chairman and president, respectively, of CBS News in February 2011 — have made the morning program a priority and they quickly hired Licht away from MSNBC, where he created Morning Joe.
“We believe there is a place for what we want to do, which is to tell great stories,” said Rose. “I don’t think there is a better time at CBS News to build on what CBS (the network) has already become. We’re looking to bring one viewer at a time over here.”
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