If the goal of Larry King’s last talk show on CNN was to go out with a representative sample of what the program has really been all about for the past twenty-five years, then it was truly a smashing success. Unfortunately for the viewers (thankfully I was probably one of the few under the age of 60 who was stupid enough to subject myself to it), that meant one full hour of vapid, insipid, awkward, embarrassing, cringe-worthy, decrepit, self-congratulatory, uninspired, talentless, fawning narcissism.
It was particularly appropriate that a man whose most remarkable characteristic was being able to get so very far without any discernable talent or even redeeming qualities somehow managed to host a show with perhaps the longest list of big-name guests (though what were Suzy Orman and Dr. Phil doing there?) in the history of hour-long television, and make it completely uninteresting and almost literally unwatchable.
Let’s go through some of the lowlights of Larry King’s last show.
Of the over a dozen big-name guests, by my count seven were openly “liberal” and the most “conservative” person invited on was RINO king Arnold Schwarzenegger. There were numerous instances of awkward silences and people talking over each other due to satellite audio delay. Regis Philbin tried to get Larry to sing with him to show people King’s knowledge of old tunes and, get this, Larry had no idea what Regis was doing. King had Bill Clinton on live, gave up most of the interview to Bill Maher and Ryan Seacrest, and the closest thing to “news” that came out of it was that Maher selfishly appeared to be able to guilt Clinton into agreeing to come on his show (hopefully so they can share their abundant wisdom on how ugly guys can use fame to chase skirts). Then there was the pathetic sight of the three network news anchors along with Barbara Walters uncomfortably holding up champagne glasses as if to toast Larry from New York only to realize that they had been instructed to do so (while being barred from actually drinking on live TV) at the wrong time. When Bill Maher is by far the most entertaining aspect of any show, you know there is a very big problem.
I personally believe that Larry King, with apologies to Joy Behar, Keith Olbermann and Maher, has created and represents more societal decline than any other media member and that the nation is a better place now that his show is off the airways for good (though one of the few amusing aspects of the last show was King seemingly believing, like a newly broke sugar daddy trusting his soon-to-leave mistress, that he will have some sort of career after this). The reasons for this are many.
Forget that he has been married eight times to seven women. Forget (heck, somehow Wikipedia has) that back when he was still named Larry Zeiger he was a rip-off artist who was found guilty of passing bad checks. No, Larry King’s greatest offense was that he almost single-handedly destroyed the hard news interview.
By wallowing in his own ignorance (which he would often brag about) and priding himself on purposefully not asking tough questions, King provided a safe sanctuary for any public figure that was in trouble. As long as you were famous enough and could handle the question, “So, what was that all about?” no transgression was too difficult to escape from once you got embraced by the warm and forgiving bosom of “Larry King Live.”