By the New York Bureau Chief
Every so often, readers have questioned the sincerity of this site’s love for not just Charlie Rose, the program, but Charlie Rose, the host. He is, after all, a man who deploys stilted phrases like “the annals of quarterback this year,” can’t pronounce a French name to save his life, and loves nothing more than plugging the specialness of his own program. If just about anyone else had such fascinating high-profile guests, this line of thinking goes, he would be able to put together a killer program.
Wrong. For the last week, Charlie has been vacationing in Bali, and not one of the guest hosts has shown even a glimmer of his wit, charm, or skill. There was pompous dweeb Jon Meacham orating a ridiculous Homer-referencing introduction to a segment on baseball. And for much of the week there’s been Bloomberg News’s Al Hunt, a colorless journo who transforms the broadcast into the dullest hour on television.
For this episode—a preview of Saturday’s Final Four match-ups and tonight’s National Championship game—Hunt sits down with Washington Post scribe John Feinstein in Bloomberg News’s very generic, very un-Charlie-like offices. It’s a polite conversation, bland as can be, and I’m sure you’ll be surprised to hear that everything that is said has been said at least 100 times before on every program that has ever covered college hoops. The only moments worth mentioning are 1) Al Hunt throwing all of his chips in with Feinstein by calling him, “America’s premier sportswriter,” and 2) Feinstein correctly picking tonight’s National Championship game of Butler v. UConn. (For the record, Feinstein picks Butler to win the whole thing.)
Luckily, our Los Angeles Bureau Chief, a longtime devotee of the WaPo’s stellar sports section (pages that produced not only ESPN personalities Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon but also New Yorker editor David Remnick), has chimed in with some juicier background on the man they call “Junior:”
- Feinstein is the ULTIMATE Dookie.
- Feinstein probably wrote another book in the time it took me to write this.
- The Feinstein – Coach K – Bob Knight connection is pretty interesting. Feinstein, of course, wrote A Season On The Brink about Knight, so Knight hates Feinstein. Feinstein went to Duke, so he and Coach K love each other. Knight was Coach K’s mentor at Army, so HE and Coach K love each other.
- Feinstein earned the Tony Kornheiser–bestowed nickname “Junior” because his temper in the Washington Post newsroom circa 1982 rivaled only that of John McEnroe (who was nicknamed “Junior”).
- Feinstein knows about as much about theater as our own Chicago Bureau Chief. Check out this little section of his Wiki: His father was heavily involved in the arts having been the General Manager of the Washington National Opera from 1980 to 1995 and was also the first Executive Director of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
After Feinstein’s appearance, Hunt turned to First Brother-in-law and Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson for a four-minute run-down of the tournament. The less said about this the better. By all accounts, Robinson is a smart, stand-up guy; but he’s only been asked to appear on the show because he’s related to Barack. Al Hunt mentions Robinson’s presidential-connection twice, and Robinson—for obvious political/familial reasons—sticks to bland talking points and won’t even play along when Hunt rags on POTUS for picking a terrible bracket. Robinson, it turns out, isn’t a particularly compelling conversationalist, and, really, it would be better for everyone’s dignity if he was left to coach his team in peace and Charlie Rose picked its basketball commentators on the strength of their skills as analysts. Also, the man needs to grow a beard. He looks way too much like his sister right now for everyone’s comfort.