Eric Schmidt the New Oprah? Stranger Things Could Happen


Earlier today, the New York Post reported that according to CNN insiders, Eric Schmidt is interested in becoming a television personality.

The Post further reported that Schmidt — who announced last week that he’s stepping down from his CEO post and becoming Google’s executive chairman — has already filmed a pilot with CNN television producer Liza McGuirk.

If a program were to come together, Schmidt wouldn’t be the first multibillionaire with a talk show, though unlike Oprah Winfrey, he might be the first multibillionaire to have earned his money outside of TV.

A “Schmidt and Friends” seems unlikely to materialize anytime soon, however. The biggest issue, according to the Post’s source, is that the pilot starring Schmidt was a “complete disaster.” That’s hardly shocking. Schmidt doesn’t suffer fools gladly and even at his most pleasant, he’s not exactly Mr. Charisma.

In fact, Schmidt has repeatedly been called “creepy” by industry observers for his sometimes glib responses to questions about Google’s reach. In responding to a question about Google’s privacy policies in 2009, for example, he famously quipped that “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

Still, if I were McGuirk, my biggest concern wouldn’t be Schmidt’s lack of stage presence. (I doubt his comportment is any worse than that of half the pundits on Fox and CNN.) I’d be worried instead that the vast power and influence that Schmidt has wielded for so long as Google’s CEO might prove a little hard for him to relinquish.

[Begin daydream. Tootletootletootletootle.]

Schmidt: “Today, please welcome my guest, medical contributor Dr. Jessica Green, who’s here to talk about the connection — or lack thereof — between vaccines and autism.”

Green: “Thanks, Eric. Yes, vaccine phobias have threatened children’s lives for years.”

Schmidt: “By years, you mean since British former surgeon Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 research linking vaccines to autism launched a worldwide scare.”

Green: “Eric, yes, thank you, and I was about to say that …”

Schmidt: “Wakefield has continued to defend his research, saying there was no profit motive.”

Green: “Absolutely true. But now…”

Schmidt: “Wakefield is no longer licensed in the U.K. or the U.S. as a physician, having been struck from the medical register for serious professional misconduct in May of last year. It’s a very positive development if a dated one, Jessica.”

Green: “Yes, and thank you for bringing that up to viewers. But what I’d love to share with them is …”

Schmidt: “Wakefield! We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.”

Green: “Excuse me. I’m sorry?”

Schmidt: “We keep the searches that you conduct for a year and a half, Wakefield.”

Green: “Maybe I should come back another afternoon this week. ”

Schmidt: “Wakefield! We don’t monitor our users. Except when we do. And we actually are monitoring you, Wakefield, closely. So even after you’ve thrown your Android in the ‘loo’ after watching this broadcast, you may want to keep moving. We do still have Street View.” [Smiles widely, then pushes up glasses with index finger while peering over them into camera.]

Green: “_______.”

Schmidt: “Jessica, thank you for that intriguing report. And now, for a quick commercial break. When we return, we’ll be talking about iPads and the sinister child labor practices that have made them possible, as well as receiving a surprise visit from none other than Martha Stewart!”

[End scene. Cut to Cash4Gold commercial.]