The Interviewer: CNN’s Larry King

We see him almost every time we switch on the TV. He interviews the famous, the not so famous from politicians to movie stars, from authors to beaten wives or husbands, he’s done them all. I am of course, talking about America’s favorite interviewer, Larry King. Flick the remote to CNN and there you’ll see Larry. It doesn’t matter what time of the day it is – three in the morning in some small town, you’ll find Larry. Like Wolf Blitzer, Cooper Anderson and others, Larry is a fixture at CNN, the proverbial bad penny. Like that favorite armchair you sit in to watch reruns of Seinfeld – that’s Larry, a pillar of importance, a leader of interviewers, a person to be watched. A caring and understanding man – Larry is loved by all.  But is he really such a great interviewer?

I have often noticed that Larry isn’t really prepared when he interviews. He seems to just pull questions out of the air and these questions are sometimes….. stupid. I watched Larry interview George Bush, before the latter, left the White House. Larry’s questioning was all over the place and at one point, even old George asked Larry, “What’s the next question, my favorite color?” Larry looked a little embarrassed, but forged ahead with his innocuous, asinine interrogation of the soon to be “ex” President.  He asked George about the incoming new President, Obama. “Do you like him?” Larry asked, obviously expecting George to tell him in great detail how much he didn’t like the new President. Great question Larry, what did you think George was going to say? “Nope, can’t stand the fucker!” Larry, Larry, Larry, of course George is going to say, “Yeah, I like him.” George had no choice but to say that. Did Larry seriously think George would give a different answer? Larry does this kind of thing often and I imagine the show’s producer, rolling his eyes and wishing he had an uzi. Back in the early 90’s Larry interviewed the comic actor, Steve Martin. During that particular interview, Steve asked if he could get a transcript of the interview, “Sure” answered Larry, “You got five bucks?” (at the time CNN was charging people $5.00 for a transcript of interviews), Steve looks at Larry and says, “Yeah, I have five bucks, however, since I’m the guest on the show, I thought you might give me a transcript free.” Larry realizing he must have sounded like the horse’s ass he is, nods and says, “I’ll see what I can do.” For the rest of the interview, Steve seemed miffed.

It doesn’t stop there, around two years ago, Larry once again shove his big foot in his mouth while interviewing Jerry Seinfeld. Larry asks, “So you decided to quit the show, right? I mean you weren’t canceled.” Jerry sat there in disbelief and then said, “Are you familiar with the show, Larry? We weren’t canceled. Why do you think we were canceled? The ratings were the highest of all sitcoms. We weren’t canceled!” Larry was nodding and searching his brain for another question. His face was red with embarrassment as he tried to make light of Seinfeld’s snippy response. While this was going on, the producer was shaking his head and asking himself, “Why?” Larry finally came up with the topic of what Jerry Seinfeld had been doing since his show had wrapped. Fortunately for Larry the rest of the interview went without him asking another dumb-assed question.

The problem Larry has is that, as mentioned above,  he doesn’t prepare for interviews. He doesn’t seem to write up a list of intelligent questions. Asking Bush if he likes Obama on nationwide TV, was stupid. The Seinfeld question, also was stupid and not thought through. Now, I don’t think Larry is a bad guy, in fact on average, he does a good job. It is just that Larry isn’t exactly Quick-Draw McGraw when it comes to asking intelligent questions. Flick the switch to Larry King Live, and watch Larry ask, at least one if not two, dumb questions to his guest. He’ll do it, I have faith in Larry and so has Larry’s producer.

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