In an impressive profile by the Boston College Law School Magazine, CNN legal analysts Paul Callan and Mel Robbins are described as “THE UNLIKELIEST OF PAIRINGS AS TWO OF CNN’S TOP LEGAL ANALYSTS, BUT THEIR ON-AIR FUSION YIELDS SHREWD INSIGHT, CHARISMATIC COMMENTARY, AND TURBO-CHARGED DEBATE” on the cover of the magazine by Chad Konecky.
Konecky even goes as far as to make the comparison between Carville and Matalin, the former (married) CNN political analysts:
Callan is measured and methodical. He exudes gravitas and poise, possessing a ship captain’s affect, which figures since he’s a “mostly” self-taught sailor. Some CNN colleagues call him “The Professor.” Maybe. But with a gunslinger’s cool. And he is no Fred to her Ethel. Remove the politics and the marriage (though their on-air rhetoric can approximate a domestic squabble) and there’s a very real vibe of antipodal policy wonks James Carvil and Mary Matalin.
Legal View host Ashleigh Banfield commented on the analysts who regularly appear on her show:
“Without question, they are nothing less than a dream team,” says Ashleigh Banfield, an anchor at CNN since 2011 and now host of Legal View in CNN’s weekday noon slot. “I couldn’t be happier that they’ve agreed to sit with me on a regular basis. They are delightful and two of the smartest people on television.”
Editorial producer Marie Malzberg discussed their appeal:
“They hit at the heart of what an editorial producer looks for,” says CNN Senior Editorial Producer Marie Malzberg. “They have the depth, and they also have a little bit of Hollywood to them. They sparkle. There’s a little something extra the viewer is going to get from them. They have a good banter. There’s good chemistry. There’s energy. When they disagree, it’s a lot of fun to watch. They are such an asset to CNN, and they make us look good.”
Robbins the loose one, Callan the one who plays along:
On set, Robbins keeps things loose, bantering with bystanders and kidding with Callan, who plays along. A superstructure overhead supports a bristling array of forty production lights trained in their direction. Final show prep is executed in intense bursts. They tap on tablets. They scribble notes—she on neatly printed index cards, he in low-slung cursive on sheets of scrap paper—as the floor manager for CNN Newsroom ticks off waypoints from one minute down to ten seconds.
New Day Chris Cuomo anchor praises Callan as well:
“Paul is the definition of what we at CNN are going for,” says Chris Cuomo, host of CNN’s New Day and the youngest son of New York’s late three-term governor. “Sure, he’s telegenic and his answers fit well into our format. But he’s got street smarts and book smarts along with the experience of being a prosecutor and a defense attorney in the criminal setting, plus he understands civil as well, so he’s a home run.”
HLN legal analyst Joey Jackson offered up some thoughts on colleague Callan:
“I love the way he puts together his arguments,” says CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson, an attorney at Koehler and Isaacs in Manhattan. “He has a way of countering your point by getting his own point out there without demeaning the person he’s with. He’s got that air and that aura of invincibility about him. Mel is a tightrope walk, but nobody walks the tightrope better. Paul’s got a completely different style from Mel, but a very effective way about how he approaches things. It’s not hard to recognize the heights Paul and Mel have reached, and it’s because of their ability.”
Robbins talks about how she made the effort to really know everyone who works in the building:
“When I was given the opportunity to join CNN, I realized I could either be that chick up in Boston that you call for legal stuff, or I could figure out a way to really feel connected to the organization,” she recalls. “So I made a decision … to learn the names of everybody in the building. From the moment you walk in on 58th Street, all the way up. One day, Paul walks in with me and sees this and decides he has to learn all the names too. Now, it’s like a competition to see who knows more names. What happened was really interesting. By taking an interest in other people, we’ve become known inside the organization. It’s the smallest things in life that make the biggest difference.”
And all the time spent researching for a three minute-long segment:
“All of the meaty stuff happens off-set,” adds Robbins. “We’ll spend an hour or two talking about cases, sharing research back and forth, maybe making a call or two to a buddy who specializes in a certain area of law. Then we rush from makeup and hair to the set, and we’re on for just three minutes.”
Banfield continues her praise of the duo:
“I trust and depend on them inherently for their insight, their wisdom, and their research acumen,” says CNN’s Banfield. “We change topics at lightning speed, sometimes when we’re live on the air. Relying on someone’s foundation in that setting is a sticky wicket, but when Paul and Mel are on the air, we’re solid. They are bright, articulate, clever, funny and terrific broadcasters and that is a hard combo to find. There are plenty of smart lawyers out there in the sea. To find one who is engaging, magnanimous, fun, and easy to work is a very tough get.”
It appears that CNN has found two.
You can read the full profile at Boston College Law School Magazine.