King, Larry

Larry King Painting
Image by Preston Kemp via Flickr

Larry King (1933-) was a popular nighttime CNN interviewer on Larry King Live, who, at his peak, arguably became something of the world’s first TV Father-Confessor.

Born in Brooklyn, New York as the son of a bar owner, when King was nine years old his father died and his mother supported 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 to remain non-judgmental.

In his latter years at CNN he was criticized for not doing enough research prior to his interviews. And some said that he was too passive, representing an old school of journalism that no longer applies to the 21st century. Admirers, however, saw King as letting interviewees speak for themselves. Instead of seeing him as overly passive, they saw him as neutral and non-judgmental.

King embraced the latter view, saying that he “only asked the questions,” as if to imply that the type of questioned asked (and the tone in which they were asked) didn’t send out some kind of message in itself. Critics would say that they did. Admirers would say that King left things as open-ended as possible.

Regardless of the reasons for his leaving CNN, his legacy remains, and Piers Morgan, the new host appearing on King’s old timeslot, has a pretty tough act to follow.


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