After 25 Years, Larry King to Retire: Media Critics Survey His Legacy

"For now it's time to hang up my nightly suspenders"

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After years of interviewing A-list celebrities and political heavyweights, Larry King is retiring from his post at CNN. In a brief statement, King wrote:
I'll still be a part of the CNN family, hosting several Larry King specials on major national and international subjects. I'm incredibly proud that we recently made the Guinness Book of World Records for having the longest running show with the same host in the same time slot. With this chapter closing I'm looking forward to the future and what my next chapter will bring, but for now it's time to hang up my nightly suspenders.

In the last few months, a growing chorus of media observes had urged him to retire. Now they're looking back on his career and weighing his legacy:

  • A Softball-Throwing Iconoclast, writes the WSJ Staff: "King is known for an avuncular interviewing style that some observers have criticized as soft. His suspenders became a trademark of his style. Over the years, his show has drawn big-name guests, including Marlon Brando, Nelson Mandela, and Madonna. In recent weeks, King has gone through personal turmoil, splitting with his wife and then reconciling with her."
Despite dropping in the ratings in recent months, the show has remained a prominent outlet for newsmakers to tell their stories, from O.J. Simpson to Octomom and Monica Lewinsky to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. King, always wearing suspenders and dark-rimmed glasses, is known for asking straightforward questions and giving guests time to talk.

Seemingly every major politician has scheduled a campaign stop to sit across from King's signature vintage microphone. During their 2008 presidential runs, Barack Obama and John McCain made multiple appearances. Billionaire Ross Perot announced he was running for president in 1992 on the program. And the show was the setting for the historic NAFTA debate between then-Vice President Al Gore and Perot in 1993, which for more than a decade was the highest-rated program in cable history, according to CNN.
  • His Gaga Interview Was the Last Straw, writes  Elizabeth Guider at The Hollywood Reporter: "More recently, the 76-year-old broadcast veteran made viewers and pundit ponder aloud if he was disconnected during interviews with politicians and with celebrities. A session with Lady Gaga last week suggested he was not fully prepared for the pop icon."
  • We All Saw This Coming, writes Michael Schneider at Variety: "Timing of the announcement was a surprise, but the news wasn't. As King celebrates his 25th year at CNN, it was widely believed the cabler and the host were ready to phase out his nightly duties, particularly as ratings for 'Larry King Live' declined."
  • Replacements?  Steve Krakauer at Mediaite notes that Piers Morgan, a British talk show host and reality show judge has been rumored as a possible replacement. Other possibilities include Ryan Seacrest and Katie Couric (though many believe she'll renew her contract with CBS).
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.