Larry King misses the TV news business, but he doesn’t miss being on CNN.
The 80-year-old news veteran is making news himself courtesy of an interview with the website Capital New York, in which he slams his former employer for its coverage of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
“I miss being live, which I did all my life,” said King in the interview. “And I miss the big story, though I will tell you, I am glad I am not on CNN now with this missing plane. Because that has been turned into the most absurd news story. It was a great news story and then it went absurd.”
The story began in March 8 when MH370 lost all contact en route to Beijing, roughly one hour after departing from Kuala Lumpur. There were 239 passengers and crew on-board.
CNN has covered the story incessantly since it began. A recent CNN report says authorities “have nothing to show” from the exhaustive search that has so far covered more than 4.6 million square kilometres of ocean space.
But the fact CNN keeps reporting on the missing airliner around the clock – even though there’s been no developments – appears to deeply irritate King.
“The funny thing about it is that in all this time, which I guess is approaching six weeks, the only thing we know is that it made a left turn,” he says. “We don’t know anything else, so I have learned nothing, and all that coverage has led to nothing.”
In the same interview, King, who spent 25 years at the helm of Larry King Live for CNN, stressed the difference between going for ratings and journalistic integrity.
“While it gave them better ratings, they weren’t doing what I consider great news work, which is letting the audience determine what is news,” he said.
Toward that end, King pointed out several other newsworthy disasters that have occurred since MH370 was first reported missing.
“In that same period of time,” noted King, “they had landslides in Washington, they had the ferry boat in South Korea, they had Ukraine, they had the G.M. recall with 13 people killed, and they are leading with the missing plane.”
The bespectacled newsman also took issue with CNN president Jeff Zucker’s recent rationalization that the reason Piers Morgan failed in King’s old time slot was because the concept of people watching a talk show at 9 p.m. was “no longer viable.”
“He [Zucker] also said that Jay Leno would work at 10 o’clock. Nothing is dead. I like Jeff a lot personally, but the biggest mistake you can make in media is to say anything is dead.”
“If you have a good show, it will work. Any good product will work. Nothing is dead, everything is new.”
Currently, King hosts the daily half-hour web program Larry King Now for Ora TV, a company in which he holds an equity stake. But it’s fairly evident that he misses being on mainstream TV.
When CNN officially pulled the plug on Piers Morgan Live last February, King was the first person to step up and offer his services.
Said King at the time: “If he [Zucker] talked to the people at Ora TV and they could work it out, I would do it.”