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Hard News Tops Fluff in Revamped CBS Morning Show: Greg Evans

Gayle King, Charlie Rose and Erica Hill host
Gayle King, Charlie Rose and Erica Hill host "CBS This Morning" on Jan. 9, 2012. The show airs Monday through Saturday on CBS at 7 a.m. New York time. Photographer: John P. Filo/CBS via Bloomberg

Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) -- “CBS This Morning,” the network’s revamped, low-key eye-opener, is a morning show for people who bristle at the in-your-face bonhomie that greets the sleepy on powerhouse rivals “Today” (NBC) and “Good Morning America” (ABC).

The third-place program formerly known as “The Early Show” can seem refreshingly businesslike by the touchy-feely standards of daybreak TV.

Co-anchors Charlie Rose, Erica Hill and designated fluff handler Gayle King seem instructed to ease viewers into the day.

On Monday, CBS led with straightforward reports about the Italian cruise ship disaster and Jon Huntsman’s exit from the Republican primaries before spending a few minutes on an un-frilly Golden Globes segment.

Usually seated at a large, glass-topped roundtable in an appealing brick-walled, loft-like set, the hosting trio is now into its second week of staking claims and breaking ice.

Rose is the hard-news man, handing off the lighter items to King.

Hill, a holdover from “The Early Show,” made the sharpest impression.

Oh, Please

While Rose and King sat enraptured as film honcho Harvey Weinstein kvetched about a critical New Yorker magazine review from 12 years ago, a smiling Hill delivered the best line of the first week: “We’re glad you’re past it.”

A strong contender for the low point of the week was an idiotic discussion among King, Hill and contributor Lee Woodruff (wife of ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff) prompted by rapper Jay-Z’s revelation that wife Beyonce once had a miscarriage.

Said Woodruff: He’s “given men permission to grieve.”

As a ratings ploy, CBS’s faith in news and restraint seems as risky as its gamble on King.

Oprah Winfrey’s best pal and protege landed a fine first-week get -- an interview with Michelle Obama that was chopped and served over several days. But King, cautious rather than charismatic, lacks the get-to-it curiosity of her mentor.

Still, a comparison of the network programs gives CBS the newsier edge. On a day when “GMA” worried about Heather Locklear’s health, praised a “hero grandma” and plugged a second-hour interview in which “Madonna really opens up,” “This Morning” highlighted correspondent Lara Logan’s report on U.S. Marines photographed urinating on Taliban corpses.

(A special edition of the “Charlie Rose” interview show appears on Bloomberg Television, Radio and mobile applications.)

“CBS This Morning” airs Monday through Saturday on CBS at 7 a.m. New York time. Rating: ***

What the Stars Mean:

****          Excellent
***           Good
**            Average
*             Poor
(No stars)    Worthless

(Greg Evans is a critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer on the story: Greg Evans at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff in New York at

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