Charlie Rose doesn’t get it

InternbadgesmBlogging is a funny enterprise.  Most of us define our interests broadly.  No one has a specific mandate that says "look here," or "examine that."  We consult our sources, and wait for something to ping.

A ping says "there’s is something out there."  We don’t what it is.  We just know that it is.  It’s up to us to poke around till the ping reveals itself. 

This morning started with a story in the New York Times about Robert A. Iger, chief executive of the Walt Disney Company and Steven P. Jobs, chief of Pixar Animation.


This is a story about an old media player working with a new media player.  And the contrast between Iger and Jobs is thoroughgoing.  These guys are different by temperment, interest, outlook.  The fusion point is potentially a fission point, and that makes the Disney-Pixar connection is a nice opportunity to observe worlds in transition (if not in turmoil).

But it turns out that what really captures one’s attention are the remarks by Brian Grazer.  Grazer is apparently a friend of Iger’s and when asked to comment, Grazer says that Iger and Jobs should get along well together because "Bob’s been No. 2 for so long he is not so covetous of power.  A partnership is more biomedically comfortable for him."


"Biomedically comfortable"!  Steve, turn the sub around!  This is promising.  We have just had a glimpse of the inside of Brian Grazer’s head, and…and…and more data is required immediately.

So I googled Brian Grazer and, praise God, it looks like there is a Charlier Rose interview.  Mr. Rose is not the best interviewer in the world, but 60 minutes is lots and lots of data. 


We can have the interview, but it turns out it’s going to cost $34.95 on DVD.  The transcript, by email, will cost $9.95.   There appear to be old shows from mid-1990s on Google Video that cost $.99.


I thought public broadcasting was funded "by viewers like you."  And the Bloomberg website says "Major funding for CHARLIE ROSE is provided by Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Cisco Systems, and DLJ direct." 

But when we buy a DVD or a transcript, we appear to be paying Charlie Rose, Inc.  We would like to know more about this company, but the website is not forthcoming.  There is link called "about the show."  There is no "about charlie.rose inc."  All we get an address on Lexington Avenue in New York City. 


Charlie Rose is withholding his interviews from the new media world.  He may be a man of the people on PBS, but on his own website, it’s strictly "pay per view."  The costs of distributing transcripts is of course neglible, and we must wonder why Mr. Rose is not a little more open source, participatory and generous about this.  In short, Bob Iger may not be the only person struggling to understand how new media and the internet change the world of ideas.  Intellectually and otherwise, old economies are giving way to new ones, and Charlie Rose doesn’t get it.  (Charlie Rose interviews all and sundry and he still doesn’t get it.  This is most odd.)


Charlie Rose appears to be using public, philanthropic, and donor funds to produce these interviews.  Then, apparently, he keeps the rebroadcast proceeds for himself.   This is not a new media problem.  This would appear to be a very old fashioned issue of morality and ethics. 


Holson, Laura and John Markoff.  2006.  At Disney, a Dealmaker in the Grip of Technological Change.  New York Times.  January 23, 2006.  here

For the Bloomberg claim about Charlie Rose funding, here

14 thoughts on “Charlie Rose doesn’t get it

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  4. Ed Brenegar

    Good analysis. If you watch CR often, it isn’t just new media that he doesn’t get. Watch him closely. There are few subjects he understands, and he is engaged. Those that are outside his field of knowledge, he spends his time after asking a question looking at his notes while the guest speaks looking at the top of his head. And when the next question is asked, you can tell he either wasn’t listening, or didn’t understand, and therefore didn’t follow up to get clarity. He just goes to the next question. The only exception to this rule is when the guests are big name celebrities, and he just exudes enthrallment. I used to watch him every night. Not I’m blogging or reading blogs at that time of night.

  5. Eric

    Your point regarding the public funding, private rebroadcast/transcription question was fascinating.

    For many years, I’ve seen PBS broadcasts end with a :15 suggesting that the program can be purchased (first on VHS cassette, now on DVD) for a fee. Usually enough of a fee to discourage anyone but serious WONKS or fans of that particular programming.

    Similarly, public radio now touts being able to get tapes or transcripts of its programming. I think American Public Media actually has a deal with, so that you can download the audio files electronically.

    It had never crossed my mind that there was something fishy about this. Public broadcasting is a starving, public supported entity. Their air talent makes relatively little money compared to their commercial counterparts, and the programming is often produced by local stations and syndicated to the network. Other the WGBR, WBUR, and that infamous Minneapolis stations that originates the “Prairie Home Companion”, the local outlets have even skimpier budgets than their commercial rivals.

    However, commercial stations don’t have public funding, and the “rights” to the programming are clearly theirs to rebroadcast, subject to production company and syndication constraints.

    Makes you wonder…

  6. Anonymous

    I think that a previous comment is being a bit too hard on Charlie Rose’s interviewing skills: Considering he is one of the very few serious, respectable interviewers out there these days, shouldn’t we give the guy a little break?
    As for the prices of DVDs I agree that a little cheaper would be a lot better – then starving students like myself might even afford to purchase a favourite episode…
    Alas, there is no such thing as “free lunch” but a Charlie Rose podcast would certainly be nice.
    In the end, I couldn’t get myself to say “Charlie Rose doesn’t get it” as I am his fan, I think that’s a bit harsh. But there is definitely a point to be considered seriously here.

  7. rverne8

    Charlie Rose is the epitome of what’s wrong with journalism these days.
    1. If it’s a big enough story-say the suits like Rose, let’s talk about it with this mentality-“right wing says this about the subject” and now by the way, the “left wing says this.” Could be a cancer that’s killing millions, doesn’t matter, there’s always the corporate Bloomburg mentality to protect. So don’t criticize the hand the feeds you and let the art of journalism stand like an old vase in the corner, respected but sturdily and regularly neglected.. Watch for that old vase the next time you tune in to Rose.
    2. American history the topic of the day? -let’s invite the NYTimes best-selling author in (lots of potential viewers, right?) And let’s talk ‘history’. Not really dig into American history, but talk. Blah, blah for an hour about John Adams foibles; fun yes but controversial? Like cinnamon flavored oatmeal, nutritious but not revolutionary, in fact the exact opposite. So again, take an old revolutionary like John Adams and turn him into oatmeal for the American viewers. You can purchase the oatmeal here if you like.
    3. War? Let’s see, has Charlie Rose ever taken any side other then that trotted out by his good buddies Condi Rice and Henry Kissinger?
    4. Henry Kissinger did you say? Any talk of the guys war criminal status the last time Rose had Kissinger touched heads? Nota, zeta, zip.
    5. Charlie Rose is different from so many of today’s media whores in what way? The six o’clock hour is filled with several of them on PBS-watch them hawk there wares the next time you tune in. The john sits on the corner watching to make sure they give him his due.

  8. wayne

    I am suprised to read the disparaging comments being floated here. Charlie is certainly one of the most brilliant interviewers of our time – I’ve watched him on and off for years, and consistently find myself learning something from each experience. I wouldn’t suggest that each show will be outstanding, but am never suprised when I find myself intellectually stimulated. Not since the first few years of Macneil Lehrer (the original 30 minute one) have I been so impressed with what can be done with this media – and I am almost always dissapointed by everything else. Additionally, it is a mistake to confuse professional and intelectual engagement with concuring personal views. In tonights interview with Jimmy Carter, you would have trouble convincing me that he was anything less than agreeable or sympathetic with Mr. Carters views on the Isreali/Palestinian conflict – he was obviously more contentious with Sharon Perez, the other half of the show. Nor was his interview with Annie Liebovitz, which largely focused on the mutally grieved loss of Susan Sontag anything less than moving. And on his new (and clearly “under construction”) website, the inclusion of a link to a book listed as “Charlies Choice”, namely “The Audacity of Hope”, does not indicate to me a signifigant GOP bent. That said, if there was any one podcast that I wish was freely available it would be this show, and grudgingly agree that perhaps in this respect Charlie doesn’t “get it”. At least, in his interviews, he does “get it”.

  9. Ron Becker

    Like others who have commented, I think Charlie Rose provides on TV that rare, serious interview with important players from across an enormous range of subject matter; and that is to be applauded in a medium that sinks every day into content oblivion. But if only he would learn how to let his great guests talk and not interrupt them every time they get going, he would be even better. On last night’s show with Michael Crichton, I thought he very nearly shut the guy down, stopping him at various places where Crichton was going to make a point or tell a story. Rose both interrupted and sidetracked the conversation, and at one point I thought Crichton lost his train of thought, if not his patience, entirely. Of course, that’s Charlie Rose for you. He does it all the time. If only he could take a page from Brian Lamb’s interview approach….and realize that the show should be a little less about him, and a little more about his guest.

  10. Madeleine Sullivan

    I saw the interview with Jack Lang of France who came to NY City to celebrate with the City having its first “Fete de la Musique”. It was started in Paris, 20-25 years ago when J.Lang was Ministre des Arts and has been copied hundreds of times in the world. The longest day, spring solstice, June 21. Mr. Sarkosy had just been elected President de la Republique fr., the Right is still in power and the Socialist party is in disarray, Mr, Jack Lang’s party. Mr. Rose was awful, kept on asking the same questions. kept on embarrassing his host and finally, at the end of the half-hour interview mentionned “that music thing”, and that was IT. Shame on you Charlie Rose. New York could use some music. some light hearted entertainment, people in the streets for a giant hootenanny and some camaraderie. Charlie, you treated Mr. Lang very badly.

  11. Lisa

    I couldn’t access Rose’s website. I’m not even one of the losers that cares about blogging – but I was so amazed by his latest intervivew tonighy…ever so fashionable – I just had to say something. Although in trying to do so I had to field all your liberal comments…and now, no wonder, I can understand why his website is in a state of “shutdown”. He has always appeared to me to be one of the few true journalists left (one that you can at least see on television) in this moronic land of the “free thinkers” in which we supposedly live. I’ve now forgotten what I was going to write. Good judgment “Charlie Rose” in blocking out these miserable people and their tired, unimaginative, rote comments. Good God, what was I thinking to even get involved in this morass of boring, liberal crap-mongers;like I needed to hear more from the tiresome, naive people without common sense. Sayonara

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