What is CNN risking keeping Larry King on air? To a growing chorus of
media critics, he's costing the network both ratings
. But The New York Times'
David Carr foreshadows something even worse: a Helen Thomas
-esque meltdown. In his
, Carr dissects the 76-year old's
interviewing skills and finds them painfully lacking. With one year left
on his contract, he advises the network to announce King's retirement
and begin scheduling big name guests for a "yearlong victory lap." By
delaying the inevitable, CNN has much to lose, Carr argues:
King has been left to dangle, battered by tabloid reports, sliding
ratings and his own daily battle to anchor the show five days a week.
The more legendary the talent, the more delicate the endgame. Think of Helen Thomas’s exit,
which did not end well for anyone.
Media critics respond:
- This Means a Lot Coming from Carr, writes the Inside Cable News blog: " By my
score, Carr is the first MSM writer to proclaim King’s show a
failure…and in record time too."
- It's Not All Larry's Fault, writes
Steve Krakauer at Mediaite: "Some
of the blame deserves to go to CNN’s decision making – they went forward
with airing King’s pre-taped Mick Jagger exclusive right
in the middle of the most recent primary night." Other failings
include an hour-long interview with rapper T.I., which was probably "45
minutes too long for both King’s audience and CNN as a whole." And
King's awkward lineup of high-profile guests: "Lady Gaga is not equal to
Bill Gates is not equal to Pres. Obama, even if they all are BIG
- I've Been Saying This for Years! insists Joe Flint at the LA Times. He directs
readers to a 2006 column he wrote for The Wall Street
Journal in which he says King's best days are behind him: "The real
trouble is that Mr. King often appears disengaged. He seems to do little
research before sitting down with guests. In interviews, he rarely
strays from prepared questions, which means he misses the chance to
probe his guests on the rare occasions when they say something
revealing... Some people say that Mr. King, a longtime radio talk-show
host before joining CNN, shouldn't be held to the same standards as
other journalists. The trouble is, Mr. King, who occupies a prime-time
slot on a channel that bills itself as all-news, doesn't even meet the
standards of many daytime talk shows."
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
jhudson at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.