Miles and miles of insights arising from genuine conversations. My Charlie Rose tribute is heartfelt. He will be missed and maybe never replaced.
Another institution bites the dust. Charlie Rose was an institution. A well known media personality, news co-host on CBS. Most important to me, he provided a nightly one-hour interview program on PBS television. Recently, Charlie was “named and shamed” for sexual misconduct. Not surprisingly, he and his program were dumped by CBS and PBS, respectively.
My Charlie Rose tribute is for his nightly program that ran on PBS since 1991. I don’t condone his behavior. But, I shall miss his long-form interviews. There was nothing else like the Charlie Rose Show on television. Not even close.
Perhaps Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York, said it best in a 2014 Time Magazine tribute. “Charlie’s long-form interviews are substantive, thoughtful and probing. It’s conversation the way we experience it with good friends and family. We reflect. We open up. We talk about issues that matter. Charlie’s interviews let us sit in with the most interesting people in the world. And that allows us to hear an honesty that is too often missing from the public discourse.”
Charlie probably broadcast over 5000 hours of interviews on PBS. Most of these were with extraordinary men and women from all walks of life – politics, science, sports, business and entertainment. Most interviews were 15-30 minutes, occasionally 1 or 2 hours. Some were panel discussions, including the great Brain Science series with Eric Kandel. Many of his guests were controversial figures, such as Vladimir Putin, Steve Bannon and Benjamin Netanyahu. Quite a few were subject matter experts. I particularly enjoyed the time with Michael Morrell on international security; David Bremmer on international affairs; and Gillian Tett on economics.
All in all, I recorded Charlie’s interviews every day, and probably watched about 40% of the content. It was a major source of “brain food” for a decade.
Charlie Rose Tribute – End of an Era
In this age of sound bytes and Twitter feeds, I would not be surprised if Charlie Rose Show is not replaced on PBS. It was a unique by-product of opportunities created by a singular individual presence. Because he was so well known and regarded, Charlie got the opportunity to do these amazing interviews, while the sound bytes and short-form reports went to the mainstream media.
Was Charlie perfect? Of course not. Sexual misconduct charges aside, his show was too dominated by “eastern liberal elites”. In recent times, it relied too much on contributions from New York Times and Washington Post journalists. But, overall, there was balance.
Charlie was 75 when he was “retired”. His interview style had become marred by long rambling questions that stutter-stepped and confused his guests, and this was getting worse. But, beyond this, he did not get in the way of what his guests had to say. And there was no other program on television that offered such a high level of intellectual content. Agree or disagree, there was always something interesting.
Charlie Rose interviews provided miles and miles of insights into humanity, society and culture. These will be deeply missed.