That’s not to say that “CBS This Morning’s” debut Monday was bad. It’s just that the daily morning slot is and may forever be CBS’s mysterious anemia. The network may dominate prime time, and it can deliver a solid nightly newscast (courtesy of Scott Pelley); “60 Minutes” will never be equaled, and CBS has no problems with its late-night lineup (David Letterman, Craig Ferguson); it even possesses a rare jewel in “CBS Sunday Morning,” a “This American Life” for people well past their hipster years.
But weekday mornings just weren’t meant to sizzle here. It’s as if this were fatefully predetermined years ago, when the pioneers of television started erecting transmitter towers. I wouldn’t blame CBS for one day deciding to let its success in other time slots speak for itself and try rebooting “Captain Kangaroo.” (A job either Rose or King might also be interested in, though Rose is more of a Mr. Green Jeans.)
Acknowledging this state of affairs is a better solution than trying to deny it or eradicate it with marketing, which is how Rose got here — and he seemed happy enough Monday to sit at a round glass table on “CBS This Morning’s” bricky new set, with its see-through green room and its restauranty vibe.
Rose’s voice and demeanor, which have for so long been a certain viewer’s idea of nightly televised melatonin, are just as pleasant to stir awake to — if not exactly encouraging you to jump out of bed. The first hour was an informative jog through New Hampshire and Tuesday’s Republican primary vote. Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich beamed in (Taped earlier? Live? It was difficult to know) to swipe a bit more at Mitt Romney’s “pious baloney” (Sunday’s trending campaign jargon) and wish “CBS This Morning” success. “I know you’re going to do a tremendous job,” Gingrich told Rose.
Near the end of the news report, Pelley dropped by with addenda to his “60 Minutes” story that aired the night before, a startling and typically outrageous investigation into the phony stem-cell market.
Rose looked a little tired, chasing camera cues and shuffling papers, but who wouldn’t? I’ve been on the sets of morning shows, and all of them feel a little like a packed bus, filled with anchors and guests (And movie stars, and animals, and saute pans!), careening off a cliff, even on a slow day. It’s hard to hold on for dear life and make meaningful small talk. At one point, teasing to a spot about Beyonce’s new baby, Rose said the blessed event “has been called a huge Twitter topic that Twitter friends have been tweeting.”