Gayle King Debuts New ‘CBS This Morning’ Team With Oprah Assist

CBS This Morning
From left: Anthony Mason, Gayle King, and Tony Dokoupil CBS

Did you put money on Oprah Winfrey pitching in on Gayle King’s debut as chief co-host of CBS This Morning on Monday? Congrats!

CBS News unveiled its latest iteration of its morning show, with King joined by co-hosts Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil. Among the news breaking to make the cut on Day 1: “Oprah’s After School Special” report on a high school that CBS News previously had highlighted, complete with a visit from King’s BFF.

The co-hosts also sat down with Ava DuVernay about her four-part Netflix series When They See Us, about the wrongful conviction of the Central Park Five, debuting Monday night.

“Tonight is your big premiere. We’re so glad you’re here in our first day,” King enthused, telling DuVernay that when she recently met the five men wrongfully convicted of raping a jogger in Central Park in 1989, “I…apologized, because I believed everything about that story. It never occurred to me they could possibly be innocent.”

“They said a lot of people come up to them and apologize,” King added.

“Welcome to CBS This Morning. I’m excited,” King said to open Monday’s show, calling it “our game day.”

Mason gave a nod to the morning’s big news: Game of Thrones fans calling in sick to work, after staying up very late watching the GoT series finale and engage in the social media uproar over it. “But not us,” Mason joked.

“I’m so excited. I’m not even nervous,” King announced of their debut. “You know why? Because we know everybody at the table. We know everybody in the room. We have met before.”

“We just want to have a good time and bring you a very good broadcast.”

The broadcast started with breaking news, including a report on the tornadoes that had ripped through Oklahoma, President Donald Trump’s latest tweets threatening Iran, etc.

But, for an hour, the show made sure nobody forgot an Oprah segment was coming.

“You never know who you’re going to meet in a parking lot in Newark,” King enthused during one such plug, adding, “It’s always great when she surprises people, especially when she’s bearing gifts. No cars, but something better than a car.”

King assured Dokoupil that Winfrey is “looking forward to meeting you,” and that she personally “can’t wait” for Oprah to appear on the morning show.

Nearly one hour in, King told viewers. “Ahead, Oprah – there’s only one – surprises a New Jersey principal. What’s she’s doing to help him give students a safe place to stay after school.”

As the show’s second hour got underway, King revealed Winfrey had given New Jersey high school principal Akbar Cook a “huge surprise” last Friday, and that “our cameras happened to be there to capture the celebration.”

Sitting with King in the Toyota Green Room, Cook said he knew Winfrey was coming, but the students did not. “So even though you know she’s coming, it still something when she walks in the door and goes ‘Hello!” King insisted. Cook called it “surreal.”

According to King, Winfrey was inspired by a CBS News report in March about Cook keeping his school open on Friday nights all year, and on additional nights in the summer.

“I remember when Oprah saw that story and said, ‘I really like that guy, how do I get in touch with that guy?’,” King revealed.

Last Friday, Winfrey visited the school with a $500,000 donation – and pizza from her O That’s Good line. “The crust is made of cauliflower, by the way –  everyone’s keeping healthy,” King explained.

During a Game of Thrones segment that followed Winfrey, Mason declared M*A*S*H and Mad Men his two fave series finales. King added Six Feet Under to the list, saying she was torn about The Sopranos finale, though David Chase had asked her, “Well, how would you have ended it?”

Last week, CBS News chief Susan Zirinsky brought the three co-hosts out onstage at during the network’s upfront presentation at Carnegie Hall, announcing to media buyers, “Now we are running into the future.” King informed them, “We each bring something different to the table, which makes us so fun.”

The CBS This Morning debut today comes seven years and change since Charlie Rose, King and Erica Hill debuted as co-hosts. Hill was soon swapped out for Norah O’Donnell, who recently left the show to become anchor at CBS Evening News, replacing Jeff Glor. Rose was jettisoned in November 2017 after the Washington Post published a report in which eight women accused him of sexual harassment and unwanted advances.

Ending their first broadcast Monday, King assured Mason and Dokoupil, “I just wanted to get the first day done…I thought it was a very comfortable fit…So shall we return tomorrow?”

“I think we’ll come back tomorrow,” Mason deadpanned.

“Last I heard,” Dokoupil chimed in.

“I hope so,” Mason added.

“I haven’t checked my – yeah, we’ll be back tomorrow,” Dokoupil said, course-correcting to end on the right note.

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