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Gayle King on Covering Trump, Her 9 TVs and Irregular Sleep Habits

Variety logo Variety 4/21/2017 Ramin Setoodeh
© Provided by Variety

As one of Variety’s Power of Women honorees, Gayle King will attend a lunch on Friday in support of her chosen cause, SEO Scholars. For this week’s issue, the “CBS This Morning” co-anchor and editor-at-large at O, The Oprah Magazine spoke about covering the news in the age of Trump and why she owns so many TVs.

How has your life changed since starting at “CBS This Morning” in 2012?

I just came from the doctor. She gave me a really good bill of health; I don’t sleep enough. She said the only way that’s going to change is to get another job. I’m not getting another job. I love both of these jobs. I love the magazine. I’ve been doing it for 17 years. And CBS for the last five. In the news business, we have a front row seat to everything that happens. That is thrilling to me, and it’s a privilege.

How much sleep do you get?

Last night, I got 4 hours and 33 minutes.

That’s not very much.

That’s not very much at all. I wear a band on my wrist. If it start with a four, I’m doing the hula. Most of the time it starts with a 3 … 3 hours and 53 [minutes], 3;59, 3:46. My sleeping is very irregular. I don’t have a set time to go to bed. I try to get there at 10 o’clock. There’s stuff I have to read or watch. And I have these things called hot flashes, which are not conducive to sleeping. So I’m basically a hot mess when it comes to sleeping.

How early do you get up?

My alarm goes off at 3:22. I know because I looked at it this morning.

What else is different about doing a morning show?

I certainly have a bigger audience of people that know me. There were some people who thought, “God, I didn’t even know you could do this.” I’ve been in television news since I was 22. I’ve been on air for a long time, but I was in local markets. Most people know me as Oprah’s best friend, and I never shy away from that.

Do you think the program has given you your own identity?

Well, I will always be Oprah’s friend. I never thought, “I don’t have my own identity.” I always felt like Gayle King.

Given the success of “CBS This Morning,” do you think you’ve proven that people want news in the morning and not fluff?

I think we’ve bucked the trend, but I also think people are hungry for the news. We say, “News is back.” Those aren’t just empty words to us. It’s really resonating — especially now in the political climate we’re in. Listen, we like to have fun too.

What’s the secret to your chemistry with Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell?

We have mutual respect and admiration and affection for each other. We didn’t know each other when we started. Things could look really great on paper — it’s like dating a guy; he has all the right attributes, but you meet him and go, “God, he’s boring.” We did click pretty quickly. I don’t know how to explain it. I just know it works.

You recently re-upped your contact. How long do you see yourself at CBS?

I don’t know. I don’t see myself sitting there at 80.

Do you ever watch the competition?

Only when I’m on vacation. But I don’t DVR it and watch it on a regular basis.

In the age of Twitter and Facebook, do you think news personalities still need to keep their opinions to themselves?

On CBS, we know people are not interested in our opinion. But we’re also human beings. Sometimes things cry out for opinion — if there’s been a tragic story, or something that’s blatantly egregious. But generally speaking, I keep my opinions to myself, which is very difficult. That’s why I like the radio.

What’s the biggest story right now?

Of course it’s the White House. Where is this Russian connection going to lead? What’s going to happen with the Supreme Court? What’s going to happen with health care? What’s going to happen with North Korea? There’s a lot going on.

What are the challenges to covering the Trump administration?

I think things have been contradictory. It’s up to us to say, “Wait, wait. Here’s the video tape, the audio, the report.”

How do you get your news?

All places, but primarily print. I still like the feel of a newspaper. But I definitely have all sorts of apps on my phone, too. Digital is great for breaking news, because you can get it instantly. Listen, “CBS This Morning” is my dream job, and I didn’t even know I had this dream.

When did you realize that?

It didn’t take long, because I’m a news junkie. I have a TV in every room in my home. I have nine cable boxes, although people tell me now I don’t need to have those nine cable boxes.

Do you have nine people living in your house?

No. I have four bedrooms. I have a bathroom. I have a master bedroom. I have a dressing room. I have a TV room. I love live television. You’re working without a net, and you can’t take it back.

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