Jennifer Granholm On DNC Speech Critics: ‘You’ll Never Be Able To Please Everyone’
11:30 am, September 19th | by Laura Donovan
If you hadn’t heard of former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm earlier this year, then you certainly knew who she was at the beginning of the month, when she made headlines everywhere for her animated, hyper-enthusiastic Democratic National Convention speech. Some loved it, some hated it (I mean, she had a lot of nerve acting so happy and optimistic, right?), but the former aspiring actress had the kind of glow and chutzpah a TV host needs to succeed.
Granholm, the host of weeknight Current show “The War Room with Jennifer Granholm” (which airs at 10 p.m. ET), agreed to chat with us about her much-talked about DNC address, program, future goals, favorite show guests, and peaceful life in beautiful northern California.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Since I’m on the West Coast now, I get up at 5:30 a.m. to start reading through the news of the day and catch-up on e-mails. I usually spend some time browsing through articles on my favorite news sites, looking through my Twitter feed, and watching downloaded clips from morning news shows. When it comes time to eat breakfast, I sit down with a copy of The New York Times.
I usually get in the office before 8:00 for a morning meeting with “The War Room” team. In the meeting, we determine the rundown, guests, and segments for that night’s show. We put all of our ideas up on a giant conference room whiteboard. From there, it’s a race against the clock to get everything together for the show – writing segments, meeting with producers, researching guests, and deciding what questions to ask them. I often have various meetings and interviews sprinkled throughout the day. On Friday afternoons, I teach my UC Berkeley course before finalizing the rundown for our live show that evening.
What do you like best about Current?
Because Current is an independent network, I’m not forced to have this false moral equivalency that other networks require. Other networks are so concerned about being “balanced” that they don’t call people out when they need to be. A good example of this is the mainstream media’s coverage of the Republican obstructionists in Washington. Current TV’s given me the opportunity to help viewers see behind the curtain and understand what’s really happening both in Washington and in this presidential race.
Can you name a couple people that you especially loved having on your show?We’ve had so many great guests from both sides of the aisle, it’s tough to name just a few. But since you asked: Nancy Pelosi, Abby Huntsman, Kal Penn, James Hoffa, David Axelrod, Captain Sully and Sister Simone Campbell were all fantastic guests. I really enjoyed having Dan Rather on the show earlier this year. We’ve all spent countless nights watching him interview guests over the years, so it was fun to turn the tables. He had some amazing stories to share — he was very real and very emotional.
Are there any other folks you’d love to have on your show?
I’d really love to have the President and First Lady on my show, but that’s an obvious answer. I’m interested in having guests like Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Eva Longoria, and Tom Hanks on — people that have strong political opinions and influence pop culture. I think it would be really interesting — in today’s world, public opinion is often swayed more by pop culture than what politicians are saying in speeches and interviews.
Your program debuted at the beginning of the year. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about hosting a show since it first aired eight months ago?
I never knew how much time went into putting together a nightly show. I’ve gained a new respect for people who work in this business – it’s hard work.
Everybody is talking about your wildly entertaining DNC speech (loved it, by the way). You even received some praise from the right! What prompted you to exude so much enthusiasm and energy that night? Was it spur of the moment or had you planned on taking the viewers on a wild ride?
It was spur of the moment. I definitely fed off of the crowd’s energy. People have asked if it was caffeine, but I was just high on democracy.
How do you respond to criticism of the speech or arguments that it was “over the top”?
You’ll never be able to please everyone. I was at the convention to rally the base. The people who didn’t like it weren’t going to be receptive to the message anyway.
I see you’re based in Berkeley, which makes me insanely jealous! How does living in northern California compare to some of the other places you’ve resided? What has been your favorite living spot so far?
I miss Michigan, my family that still lives there, the Great Lakes and summers up North. There’s nothing like a Pure Michigan summer! Michigan will always be home, but I was raised in California. It’s been a long time since I last lived here, but the places are still familiar. There are so many great things to do in Northern California. My family has been enjoying day trips to Sonoma, Stinson Beach, Santa Cruz, and exploring San Francisco. It’s a beautiful area. We love the regional parks here, and visit them often for running and hiking. Mostly, we enjoy being near my parents at this time, whom we haven’t lived near for our entire married lives.
It’s tough to top having your own show! Do you have any goals for the future?
I’m not sure what the future will bring, but I’m totally happy hosting “The War Room” and teaching at Berkeley. Guess you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out.