May 20, 2020

Tony Dokoupil reflects on a year of anchoring ‘CBS This Morning’ alongside Gayle King and Anthony Mason.

One year ago, a new trio of co-anchors, Gayle King, Anthony Mason, and Tony Dukoupil, sat behind the CBS This Morning desk for the first time. To celebrate the anniversary, the hosts were together only on-camera as they broadcast from their homes due to the coronavirus.

Dokoupil told the ViacomCBS Newsroom that this moment is a reminder of why broadcast news exists and why it matters now more than ever. “The pandemic and the immense disruption to our lives has been a reminder of why broadcast television exists in the first place,” he says. “It sets people's expectations for what's happening in their world. It informs, inspires, provides comfort, and agitates when necessary.”

Dokoupil adds, “Those were all parts of the original vision of broadcast as a public service. And as difficult as these times have been, it's been inspiring to feel that return to the original purpose. This is why we do this. This really matters.”

On Wednesday, the trio shared the highlights from their last year anchoring the news together and each propped up a special anniversary cake of their own to celebrate together while apart. Some of the biggest stories covered by CBS This Morning include the 2020 primary race, President Trump’s impeachment trial, the Harvey Weinstein trial, investigations into Jeffrey Epstein, and the health implications of e-cigarettes. The year also featured multiple exclusive interviews with Michael Bloomberg, Bernie Sanders, Greta Thunberg, Edward Snowden, Bruce Springsteen, Bill Gates, Billie Eilish, Lizzo, and Mark Zuckerberg. The team also did a full hour dedicated to mental health and broadcast live from the top of the Empire State Building.

A Candid Approach

Despite being the “new guy,” joining news veterans like King and Mason on the show, Dokoupil says he feels settled and has learned from the seasoned duo.

 

“From Gayle, I've learned don't run from any of the hiccups that can come from live television. They're part of it and people appreciate you being real,” he explains. “She is the most natural person on television.”

For Dokoupil—who served as a correspondent on CBS News before joining the CBS This Morning line-up—the ability to break the fourth wall and be upfront and honest has built the audience’s trust and acceptance. It’s one unique way that CBS This Morning sets itself apart from other morning shows, he says.

“We bring the audience into our homes and our environments,” Dokoupil adds, describing the show’s approach even before viewers were literally invited inside his home. “When something goes wrong, we don't pretend like something didn't go wrong. We'll be like, ‘Okay, we just lost contact with so and so,’ or, ‘That's not the way you say that word, can you help me out here?’”

“Just being yourself doesn't sound like an innovation, but when you think of the ‘voice of God’ tradition in network news, it is innovation. It's different,” he says.

That same honest approach also applies to CBS This Morning’s coverage. The show’s uncompromising when it comes to news, choosing to focus on the most important story over light-hearted topics that are more traditional for morning programming. For example, last fall CBS This Morning broadcast a special live audience event on mental health. It was also one of the first networks to do a full hour on the COVID-19 pandemic in the morning.

“I think viewers have come to really appreciate seeing a more personable and natural side of morning news anchors, and they understand that it hasn't diminished or taken away from the hard-hitting original news that CBS has built its brand on,” Dokoupil says. “They are getting a feeling of family from us in ways that are stronger than ever before.”

The family feeling is also evident in the daily correspondence Dokoupil has received from viewers, which has increased tenfold since the pandemic. “They send me story ideas, things happening in their community, or even a ‘thank you, you make my morning,’” he says. “Sometimes they want to know if I'm okay. Maybe they noticed something in my eyes, that kind of thing. And I tell them, ‘I'm just bad at makeup, we're doing it ourselves.’”

Related Articles