At this point, we’ve got 50-11 Democratic candidates running for president in 2020, but if Gayle King had her way, her famous bestie might throw her hat in the ring, too. In fact, she bravely broached the subject with the great and powerful Oprah just a few weeks ago, as she tells the Hollywood Reporter.
“She had just given a speech ... and it was so good,” King recalls. “And I said, ‘You know, you give speeches like that, it just gives more fuel to us who really think it’s something you should consider.’”
“I was instantly slapped down,” King admits. “And not in a good way.”
No doubt Oprah would instantly catapult to the top of the frontrunners for 2020, but equally true is that we need someone more adept at policy than simply garnering popularity (though even on her worst day, O would be a massive improvement over our current reality star-in-chief).
But as the anchor of CBS This Morning, King has garnered her own long overdue accolades, as of late—particularly in her unflappable handling of hard-to-get, sometimes explosive interviews, like R. Kelly’s now-infamous appearance earlier this year. King’s performance and professionalism sealed the deal on the veteran journalist’s contract negotiations with the network, which doubled her salary to approximately $11 million annually.
“There has long been recognition that she is a unique broadcaster, journalist, storyteller, humanitarian,” Susan Zirinsky, president of CBS News, told THR. “Gayle brings a unique sensibility and sensitivity. What this represented was a sea change.”
But if the world just caught on to the talent and tenacity of Gayle King, who’d perhaps become best known as Oprah’s bestie, King’s ascension as the new face of CBS was no surprise to her BFF, who gave her feedback during negotiations which resulted in a new three-year deal worth more than $30 million.
“[R. Kelly] was a very telling and seminal moment for people to see her in a way that she hadn’t been seen,” Oprah told THR. “But I will tell you, absolutely nothing about her ability to handle that interview surprised me. Because I had seen her do that in many other circumstances.”
While we won’t be expecting Oprah in the Oval Office anytime soon, King will continue lighting up morning television daily on CBS This Morning. She talks about her strategic rise and more in a cover story for THR, and in an accompanying video, lays out the best and worst things about becoming a fixture on morning television. Watch below.