2012 Honoree

Gayle King

Co-host, “CBS This Morning”; Editor-at-Large, O, the Oprah Magazine

“Negativity is a choice. Everyday you wake up, you can make the choice. I’m just gonna be bitchin’ and moanin’, or I’m gonna make the best of whatever happens.”

What do you think of the media’s portrayal of women?

Well, I think it depends on what you’re watching because we have many shows that give you strong dynamic women who are smart and sophisticated, doing the right thing. You know there were several political shows that I enjoy watching that I think are great. I loved Julia Louis Dryfous (sp?) in the “Veep” show that she did, Sigourney Weaver had “political animals” and then you have Tina Fey and Amy Poehler who just do smart comedy and then you have on the other extreme you have the reality TV shows, and I confess, yes I watch, I’m watching, and I sit there a lot of times with my mouth hanging open going this makes me so sad as a women because we look petty, mean girl, bullies, um so I really do think it depends on what you’re watching and I watch every damn thing, I do. I watch a lot of TV. And that’s why you can have a strong sense of who you are because some people when I look at some of these reality TV shows I go they are not speakin’ to me, you know for me you now it’s sort of it’s a huge guilty pleasure because I can’t believe what I’m watching on the other hand I think boy, for some people they’re watching and thinking “yeah, you go girl.” I never think that. I never think that…

How do you see the political landscape has changed for women?

Well I’m very excited and encouraged by this bc I actually do believe we are going to see a female candidate in 2016. You know, Hilary Clinton never asked me for advice and consults me on nothing, but I really do think it’s her time. I think it’s her time. And I think the closer it gets, you know I know she’s already announced she’s not coming back for a second term. Shes gonna take some time off, so you know I’m thinking let her regroup, rejuvenate and come back strong. She’ll still be young enough and we know that she can do the job and she’s got the experience. The idea of that is very exciting to me. Do we still have a long way to go in terms of the political landscape for women. Yeah because it’s still, it’s certainly falls short when you look at the House of Representatives and you look at the Senate and you look at anything in politics. You know, we’re doing in the November issue, we have an interview, Oprah is doing an interview with the Romneys and the Obamas and then we do a piece on politicians who we think are doing the right thing, regardless of their party. It’s a great highlight for women, but I know the numbers are still…we are still way behind on that. We’ve got a long way to go, but I’m encouraged because I think Hillary Clinton is running in 2016, and I predict that she will, and again she has asked me for no advice ever, I just think the message that that will send will be very powerful. There are going to be little girls growing up in this country and kids growing up in this country that will think it’s no big deal to have a woman for president and a person of color for president and I know people in my generation who said I don’t think we’ll live to see it, but we did! We did and we are.

Do you feel extreme left and right politics is destructive or is it making us more united or is it just a healthy way for two parties to debate?

You know, I never think extreme on either side is a good thing. I don’t think extreme on either side is a good thing, regardless of your position. I don’t think extremes on either side unite anybody, and I think when you talk to most people who are out there working and raising families, doing their jobs, most people are right there down the center. Most people want the right thing and they just want people to be fair and I don’t think politics is any exception to that. So even if I agree with someone’s views, even if I’m thinking you know they have my positions, if it just gets too nasty and too starky and too extreme, they lose me. They lose me. And there’s a way to have healthy debate. You know, Barack Obama said it in his first campaign, “We can agree to disagree. We can disagree without being disagreeable.” I am so from that school. I do not feel that you have to lose in order for me to win anything.

Do you think a lot of that comes from confidence that is sort of built in people, they can stand behind their convictions strongly enough?

Confidence or is it just the 24-hour news cycle, where people just feel in order to get recognized, they have to say something sometimes that’s just outrageous to get attention sometimes. I think that happens too. A couple times I’ve seen people say something and if I knew them I wanna call and say “Do you really believe what you just said because that doesn’t make any sense.”

If there was one sort of challenge that maybe sits out that has made you the person you are today, could you maybe pinpoint that? It could be something you’ve been extremely challenged by that made you a better person cause you took it on board.

I really am one of these people that feels that when you come up with a hurdle, you become a hurdler. Whether it’s a divorce, whether it’s the death of your mother, whether you didn’t get the job you wanted, you know all of those things that just sort of take you out. I really am the type of person that when something happens to me, i just think ok, what do i need to do to fix it, what do i need to do to change it, or what do i need to do to let it go, meaning it’s just not suppose to be, it’s just not suppose to be. You know I’ve never been one to dwell on woes or this is so hard because I’m a very solution-oriented person. It takes a lot for me to lose my temper, it takes a lot for me to just feel that i’m just like ‘oh my god, this is very difficult.’ I just don’t look at life that way because life isn’t supposed to be easy and it’s not always supposed to go your way. To me that’s just part of a thing called life. Deal with it.

Do you feel that the younger generation is faced with bigger challenges than you were in their growing up?

I think they’re faced with more opportunities for sure, but I think it’s harder now. Social media makes everything harder. For something that’s supposed to connect, it can be so mean and destructive and I can’t imagine what it’s like growing up when everything you say is recorded or can be recorded and lives with you forever. I’m glad I didn’t have that. I’m very glad I didn’t have that.

Do you feel that is causing the impact of challenges they have to face over the time?

Yeah, but you can take those and make those opportunities too. So they have greater opportunities, but in some respects it can be harder, but I don’t think it’s a bigger challenge, I think they’re far ahead of the game just because everybody is so technically connected, in terms of technology, it’s such a better place for them, but listen, I’ve been hearing about the job market is hard ever since I was in college. I remember everybody saying ‘it’s so hard, it’s not good, no one’s gonna be able to get a job,’ and we’re still hearing that.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

I used to quote Maya Angelou, but now it’s… recently Oprah did a great interview with 50 Cent, and I love what he said. He said “You can pray or you can worry, but don’t do both.” I love that. I think that is great advice.

If there was somebody that you would like to sit down to dinner with dead or alive who would it be and why?

Princess Diana. I was smitten with her from the very beginning. I was one of those little girls who believed in fairy tales, and unfortunately, she did not have a fairy tale ending, but I got up to watch her wedding, I got up to watch her funeral, and I worried about her sons, and I’m so happy that they seemed to have turned out A-OK. And I marvel at the pressure that she had and the bubble that she was living in, you know the dream that everybody thought they wanted and how hard it must have been for her.

What is your favorite book?

I think it’s hard to pick a favorite cause there’s so many. I’m sitting here right now reading this book called “The Panther,” which is really good, and it’s about in the Middle East the people have been sent to the Middle East, she’s an FBI agent and he’s a former NY cop and the panther is one of the terrorists and they’ve been sent to hunt, they’ve been sent to get him, but what they don’t know is he’s waiting for them to come so he can get them. And it’s just a really great back and forth. Um, god it would be hard to pick. I’m not answering that one.

I’d much rather take a movie. So let me take Downton Abbey and Homeland. I’d much rather take those and a couple of comedies. I would really enjoy that far more.

Would you have something to say about religion? Do you think it’s important in peoples’ lives?

Well, I think religion is such a personal choice for everybody.

For some people it is. It’s important to me, but I can’t say that it’s important for everybody, but for some people it is. And everybody has to decide what works best for them when it comes to religion.

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