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Contrarian Opinion: Gavin Newsom is a better talk-show host than politician.
Chris Roberts | Photo: Courtesy of Current TV | July 16, 2012
The lieutenant governor’s new gig at Current TV has all the signs of being his true calling. Here’s why His Gelness might be the new Charlie Rose.
He’s learned a thing or two from his years on the other side of the mic. As an interviewee, Newsom was a dodge-and-weave kind of pol, but as an interviewer, he’s shown a real knack for getting his guests to open up, like when he coaxed Lance Armstrong out of his shell on the touchy subject of doping.
He’s charming when he’s not bored. “I just—ugh—God,” sad Gav was overheard telling hotelier Chip Conley about why he spends so little time in the 916. We prefer the excited neo-geek who got Sergey Brin to show off the new touch-pad-activated Google glasses.
He’s an A-list schmoozer. “This show isn’t about dreamers—it’s about doers,” the tagline goes. And Newsom knows plenty of them: His lineups are full of the kind of mover-and-shaker guests you actually want to hear from.
It’s OK if he’s all talk. So many of Newsom’s big ideas didn’t go anywhere (remember free citywide Internet?), but being the big-idea talk-show host, dissecting technology with Google VP Marissa Mayer and director Oliver Stone—now, that’s just cool.
He’s middle of the road. It may have driven Newsom’s political foes on the left crazy, but being somewhere on the spectrum between Chris Daly and Rush Limbaugh actually has some benefits if you’re a talk-show host based in San Francisco who’s trying to shape the conversation.