I got this fixed, so I thought I would post in case someone else has the same problem. This is an 8.5 bug, subsequently fixed. To work around, just open the channel control, THEN select object you want to edit.
Tried the above and it still was consistently crashing and really pissing me off (8.5 on Intel mac). I figured out a work around so I'd though I'd share in case anyone else was having the same issue. Go to applications > find you maya app and then 'get info'. Check the 'open with rosetta' box, then reopen maya and apply your channel control window jazz. Save, quit, go back and uncheck 'open with rosetta', reopen your scene and it should work. Cheers!