I watch Charlie Rose’s interview show regularly and for the first time ever, I’m disappointed in him.
Tonight, he interviewed John Mack, the CEO of Morgan Stanley. Before the interview commenced, he told the audience that he and Mack grew up together—lived in the same neighborhood, went to the same school. During the conversation, they mentioned the fact that Charlie introduced John to his wife.
The interview seemed, to me, to be an exercise during which Charlie lobbed softballs over the plate. He didn’t seem to be interested in holding his friend accountable for his part in the crisis.
And John spewed a good bit of self-congratulation. He denied having taken bonuses “in 2007 and 2008” claiming that, though Morgan Stanley showed profits during those years, it was not profitable enough to merit a bonus. However, he mentioned only those two years—which suggests to me that he has taken bonuses in other years—and we all know how obscene those can be. And Charlie didn’t ask him about other years. That’s what I mean when I say that he played softball with his friend. In fact, generally, Charlie didn’t confront Mack about the crisis at all. He simply allowed him to dictate the direction and tenor of the conversation.
Now, maybe Charlie had to invite a friend in order to air any program of this type. Maybe Mack was the only CEO Charlie could get to sit down in front of a camera. Even so, though, I think he spent more time placating his friend than he did illuminating his audience. While this may be human nature and, therefore, understandable—I rather wish he had, instead, asked a scientist to discuss the environment or an author to plug his latest novel.