You’ve probably heard that Larry King passed. I was listening to the All News Radio today when I also learned that King apparently never ‘overprepared’ for his interviews. King admitted that he didn’t know it all, the radio host said. Also gleaned today was that King was unpretentious. One guy went to interview King and found that his hotel room was “disheveled” as he put it.
“Okay, let’s go,” King said to the interviewer in a relaxed way.
I liked that story. Thought I’d add it to the existing entry I wrote last April 2020.
Larry King (1933-) was a popular nighttime interviewer on CNN‘s Larry King Live. At his professional peak, King arguably became something of the world’s first TV Father-Confessor.
King handled his interviews with an apparent neutrality that made interviewees come off as candid and sincere. It really seemed like they were ‘telling all’ to a best friend.
King’s skillset was made clear when his replacement, the Brit Piers Morgan, made a hash of the job and was let go before too long.
Perhaps that’s not an entirely fair assessment. Many Americans may seem like your buddy on TV and film but when meeting some average Americans face to face, it’s another story altogether.
Possibly the cultural density of the US had something to do with Piers Morgans’ pink slip. He just couldn’t bridge the gap.
Born the son of a bar owner in Brooklyn, New York, when King was a child of nine years his father died, compelling his mother to support him and his younger brother through welfare. Perhaps the proverbial school of hard knocks contributed to King’s ability to ask tough questions while appearing non-judgmental.
In his later years at CNN King was criticized for his alleged sloppy and inadequate research prior to interviews. Also, some said he was far too passive, representing a brand of old school journalism no longer relevant to the 21st century.
Admirers saw King as letting his guests speak for themselves. King said he “only asked the questions,” as if to say that the topics pursued (and the tone of his voice) did not send out implied messages, which most linguists and semiologists would say is practically impossible.
Regardless of why King left CNN, his legacy remains.
King still appears on Ora TV, Hulu and RT America. In Canada, we see him on RT (Russia Today), a Moscow-based TV channel that could probably more accurately be called “Putin’s Puppets.”
Seeing King on RT is weird and alienating, sort of like waking up in an alternate universe where everything’s gone wrong. But there it is. King always tried to be unprejudiced, and I guess that approach is sustaining his career despite what some might see as a credibility deficit.
Postscript, January 23, 2021:
As you can see I was pretty tough on King here. Not sure that was entirely fair. My views were probably tainted by the fact that I had some issues with someone who came to Canada from a Soviet-occupied land.
King was a survivor. And he no doubt has influenced many. Myself included.
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Edit – Minor tweak for clarity