Before he premieres his new CNN late night talk show on Sunday, the longest name in Canadian entertainment stopped by the Huffington Post to plug his new interview program/himself. In conversation with HuffPo Live's Jacob Soboroff,
George Stroumboulopoulos took pains to introduce an American audience to his painstakingly put-together bad boy persona, with the pressing issue of his driving a motorcycle coming up within 22 seconds of the interview commencing.
Minutes later, Stroumboulopoulos expressed with what many might take for genuine shock that he even be allowed to host an interview program on CNN, given his radical departure from tired, old hat conceptions of just what a cable news personality can be. In his own words, swear to God:
CNN's been rad. Look at the way I look. Guys like me aren't on TV too often. Not on news channels. But I was on a news channel in Canada. I have my earrings and I wear what I wear and they've been really cool about it. [emphasis Strombo's.]
As a conventionally attractive, 40-plus white male, Stroumboulopoulos - who has, what, three whole piercings and dusty little soul patch? - would certainly never be mistaken for other banner CNN personalities like Piers Morgan, Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo, Jake Tapper or Wolf Blitzer - who is kind of conventionally attractive, if you're into tiny little bearded Wolf Blitzer-types. But he doesn't really look like Fareed Zakaria, who has no visible earrings. Or Soledad O'Brien, who is a woman. Let's give him that.
To say nothing of the fact that Strombo's courting by CNN seems like a deliberate three-pronged attempt to bring in a younger demographic who might be impressed by him. Along with Stroumboulopoulos, CNN has brought Morgan Spurlock (the George Stroumboulopoulos of documentary filmmaking) and Anthony Bourdain (the George Stroumboulopoulos of eating exotic food hungover) on board for summer spots. It may well come as a welcome distraction from the network's wall-to-wall, 24-hour barrage of misreporting, rape apologism and suppressing its reporters from speaking out against American aggression abroad.
As to the subject of CNN not being a very good news organization (or, at least, not as good as CBC), Stroumboulopoulos noted that he has "a lot of respect for the CNN brand."
A lot of people take shots at news channels. But those people are generally comics, and they live in the comedian space, where there's not an onus to be a newsbringer [sic] everyday. There's a lot of pressure to be a newsbringer every day. CNN lives in that space...People get things wrong. That's the whole point of this. The trick is to not get facts wrong too often. And I think CNN's brand's very solid.
Spoken like a true rock star.
Soboroff presses Stroumboulopoulos on the Canadian issue du jour, local Mayor Rob Ford and what he is or is not smoking, to which Strombo replies, "Listen homes, I wasn't in the room."
Later yet, when asked a perfectly reasonable question regarding his opinion on marijuana legalization, Stroumboulopoulos replied "smoke weed everyday," a reference to the popular 13 year-old rap single The Next Episode by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, before clarifying "I don't rock the ganj." He also calls himself "straight edge," which we'll take for granted, sure.
You can suffer through the entire interview here. It is truly excruciating, like watching a dad slowly turn a baseball cap around over the course of 35 minutes to get ready to "rap" with his bleary-eyed son about "ganja" and "newsbringing."
And, oh yeah: Strombo weighs in on U.S. foreign policy, at last. When asked if he believes U.S. President Obama will make good on a promise to circumscribe illegal drone strikes and close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, Strombo offers the quibbling, bogusly insightful non-answer "I believe that he believes it."
This guy was made for CNN.