Is Larry King Headed for a Helen Thomas-Like Meltdown?

NYT's David Carr calls for the CNN host's retirement

This article is from the archive of our partner .

What is CNN risking keeping Larry King on air? To a growing chorus of media critics, he's costing the network both ratings and credibility. But The New York Times' David Carr foreshadows something even worse: a Helen Thomas-esque meltdown. In his latest column, 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:

Mr. 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 STARS!"
  • 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."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.