Message to the LA TIMES: Thanks for the shout out…and more importantly, thank you for giving me the cue to talk about Larry King

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Time sure flies, doesn’t it?  I was reading an LA Times story about the media and stumbled upon my name and reference to the time when I was at CNN.  It has been almost 11 years since I left CNN.   Sometimes it feels like yesterday and sometimes it feels like 50 years ago or that I was never there at all!  As an aside, many current and unhappy viewers with me have not forgotten that I started at CNN — I still daily get those emails “go back to CNN.”

My name appears in an article (excerpt below) with Larry King’s name.   It is about a 2000 political convention.  This gives me the chance to blog about Larry…

I still think Larry is the best.  I spent many nights in the make up chair next to him asking him questions about the business and he had great advice.  He was a very generous colleague.  He told me, among other things, “don’t talk too much….the audience will get sick of you after a while.  Let the guests talk.  The audience tunes in for the guest and the topic and not to listen to the host night after night.”   I think, with the rare exception of Bill O’Reilly who the viewers want to hear from directly, Larry is right.   

But there is more to cable news success than just letting the guest talk and Larry explained that.  I once heard a German news anchor on an internal feed at CNN ask Larry why he was so successful, why his show had lasted so long (and then it was on the air only about 15 years!) He said, “I am curious…I am interested in my guests and what they have to say.” 

I have thought about that for years and he is right – if the anchor is more interested in himself or herself and not the guest and the topic of discussion, why would the audience stick around? The anchor can’t sell a news item or guest to the audience if the anchor is more interested in himself or herself.  And what might be worse than a self absorbed anchor?   A bored one…why would anyone watch a show where the questions are so unoriginal as to expose the anchor’s boredom.

What has been mysterious to me is why Larry got pushed out of CNN.  When he left, he was still the #1 show at CNN.  He was #1  despite the fact that it was obvious that the network was ignoring him and his show and had been for some time.    Why would a network bump its #1 show? This is not meant to be a slap at his replacement (I have said for years that the best job in TV was replacing the person who replaced Larry) — it is just very difficult if not impossible to follow someone of such enormous talent as Larry King.  By the way, I assume everyone will say Larry was not pushed out but it sure seemed that way to me as an outside observer.  That is my opinion.

I know some of the Fox viewers have a knee jerk reaction to Larry because he worked at a network they don’t like.  But think about it…I don’t ever recall thinking Larry gave an unfair interview and I watched a lot of Larry King interviews.   I don’t even know how Larry votes.  Larry gave Republicans and Democrats the same interview…in others, a fair shake. 

Here is the excerpt:

“… Turner’s network occupied premium skybox space at Staples Center, with then stars such as King and Greta van Susteren prowling the halls and chatting up political luminaries. The upstart Fox News was relegated to trailers and tents in a cramped parking lot, where a tall, ambitious and opinionated program host sat slumped, writing his own copy. That was Bill O’Reilly…