Turnabout is fair play. Which is why, mere hours before Robin Roberts invites viewers to get up close and personal with the likes of LeAnn Rimes (Who comes clean about the dissolution of her marriage), Carrie Underwood (discussing her wedding to NHL star Mike Fisher) and Miranda Lambert (Who reveals what it was like spending part of her childhood homeless) in her ALL ACCESS NASHVILLE SPECIAL we thought it might be fun (and only fair) to turn the tables on the GOOD MORNING AMERICA anchor. Here’s her take on LeAnn Rimes, her very public battle with cancer, and Jon Stewart’s recent well-thought out scolding of America’s media.
Your special tonight has you getting very up close and personal with the likes of LeAnn Rimes and Carrie Underwood. As someone in the public spotlight herself, do you feel that the trade off in terms of personal privacy that one makes to reach a certain level of stardom is a fair one?
Robin Roberts: That’s a really fair question and I think it’s really up to the celebrity. I think there is an appetite from the public that can get out of control, but I think it’s up to them. For instance, Carrie Underwood, who did talk to me about her marriage to Mike [Fisher] is a very private person. When I talked to her a year ago on my first special, the fact that she even mentioned his name in the interview was such a huge deal and now a year later they’re married. Carrie kind of dictates what is going to be said and not said and I respect the dickens out of that. I don’t try to pull more out of her, I put her in a comfortable place and if she wants to talk about it, it’s fine.
In terms of LeAnn Rimes, what they went through, she and Eddie [Cibrian] a year and a half ago was almost off the charts as far as the tabloids, the speculation and just the things that were said. They were both married, and I’m not trying to sugar-coat it, neither are they and there’s not anyone trying to say what they did was right, but I do think it’s a trade off with being in the public eye.
With a circumstance like LeAnn and Eddie, where the public obviously has very strong opinions on what they did, is it a challenge as an interviewer to separate yourself from the subject when you yourself may not agree with how they handled themselves?
Gosh, that is such an excellent question and I’ll be honest with you, prior to sitting down with LeAnn Rimes, I knew very little about her. Just as you read up on me so you could get some background for our interview, I did the same thing with her. And looking at all the past articles from the last year and a half which where not flattering to say the least — calling her a husband stealer, stalker and all these things — one can’t help but have a pre-conceived notion in the back of your mind, even though as a journalist you’re supposed to put that all out and be totally objective, you are after-all human.
What I can honestly say I didn’t see coming was my reaction after spending the entire day with LeAnn. I did not expect her to be so open, genuinely apologetic and I was not prepared to feel the way I did when I walked away from the interview with LeAnn and Eddie. But I did, and I hope that when people sit down and watch the special that they allow themselves to be open-minded. Again, not trying to condone whatsoever how they got together or anything like that, but just to have an open mind would be very helpful. After-all, only people who are in a relationship and in a marriage truly know what’s going on.
When you agree to conduct such a high profile interview like your one with LeAnn tonight, what are the ground rules like? Can you ask whatever you want, or are their agreed upon topics you can’t touch?
I would never ever agree to do an interview where I, firstly, let the interviewee know what I’m going to ask, and second of all, allow them to dictate the terms of the interview. You just don’t. It doesn’t matter if they are the President of the United States of a celebrity that I’m talking to “In the Spotlight.” In LeAnn’s case, the publicist knew where I was going to go, so they may have said something like, “Okay I knew we’re not going to tell you what you can and cannot ask, but all we would ask is that you consider not making it the entire focus of the interview.” Which is fair, because none of us wants to only be known for one thing or one aspect of our lives. I’m a cancer survivor, very proud, but I don’t want every article and every-time I do something for that to be the main focus about me.
Coincidentally enough, your battle with cancer was my next question. What was the impetus for taking your decision public?
I really struggled with that because initially when I was diagnosed, the plan was to keep it to myself and not tell anyone outside of my inner circle for fear of getting labeled. It was actually my mom who really encouraged me. She’s 86 years old, living in Mississippi and she could just tell I was just not doing well with not sharing this and constantly having to worry about people finding out. My mom was like, “Make your mess your message,” which has been our family credo. Make your mess your message and you’ll be able to help so many other people if you are open about it because you’re going to be fine. You have good health care and a good job, where as so many other people going through cancer don’t. So be their voice, take yourself out of the equation and be of service to others which in the end was really why I did it.
And finally, as an anchor on GOOD MORNING AMERICA, arguably one of the most coveted jobs in America, did you get a chance to catch any of Jon Stewart’s’ speech from his Rally For Sanity? And if so, what was your reaction?
I did see some of it, I didn’t see it all because it was a long show, but I love how he ended basically by saying these are hard times not end times. I think that really caught me. Another thing that caught my attention was when he said it’s not important what happens here today, but how it’s reported. That was a real eye-opener for me because it is just so true. You have such power in the media, we all do and you have to be respectful of it. Be obejective, be fair and allow people to make up their own mind instead of us having an idea of what it should be. The tone of it what he said was right, he reached a lot of people and a lot of people are just kind of looking at things differently and who doesn’t return to sanity?
IN THE SPOTLIGHT WITH ROBIN ROBERTS: ALL ACCESS NASHVILLE airs Wednesday November 3 at 10PM on ABC