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There's a little Larry King in every great interviewer, whether they'd cop to it or not

  • "Since he didn't deeply research his guests, he tended to ask questions the average person might want to know. In the maximalist '80s and '90s that approach worked wonders," says Melanie McFarland. "King made his subjects come across as people – real people, serious people. Politicians in the hot seat softened and came off as more human even as they answered questions that seemed serious but were nowhere in the same realm of toughness as they would be if a major network journalist was doing the interrogating. He wasn't imposing or intimidating, he was a nice guy asking for simple explanations to simple things about which he was curious. In the wake of 9/11, that casual style left us wanting. When disasters erupted, King's main role was to wrangle CNN correspondents and give George W. Bush's cabinet members a forum that was largely unchallenging. As partisanship grew more rancorous, we learned to turn to The Daily Show or, for conservatives, Fox News' primetime lineup instead of to King who, until that era, ruled the cable primetime roost. That he refused to be combative or contentious wasn't the main problem. It was that his professed dedication to open curiosity came across as unquestioning. Usually with celebrities, this was fine and welcome. This, in fact, was as much a part of the brand as King's signature eyeglasses and suspenders. But when presidents, cabinet members and congressmen were on the other side of the table, he was basically doing them a service instead of putting their feet to the fire...King clearly wasn't a man who used simple questions to open the door to deeper understanding about a person – and this, I think, is where some of the best and braver interviewers borrow from his style of simple, gentle questions and probe more sharply, sometimes messily, and if the subject plays along we're gifted with new insight."


    • Shawn King, Larry King's estranged wife, says he didn't die of coronavirus: "It was an infection, it was sepsis," says Shawn King, who recounted talking to her husband via FaceTime while he was hospitalized. "Well, he was finally ready to go, I will tell you that. You know, he never wanted to go but his sweet little body was just, it had just been hit so many times with so many things and once we heard the word COVID, all of our hearts just sunk. But he beat it, you know, he beat it, but it did take its toll and then the unrelated infection finally is what took him, but boy, he was not gonna go down easily." Shawn King says her husband was laid to rest on Wednesday.
    • Former CNN anchor Aaron Brown recalls what it was like to follow Larry King Live: "For four years I followed Larry on the air," says Brown. "He was in L.A. and I was in New York, so we met on television — and we developed a relationship on television. When I was in L.A., or he was in New York, we always got together, and it was actually quite warm. He was an odd character in my life. He was generous, and he was funny, and I liked him a lot. Our exchanges on air were like walking through an Iraqi village and not knowing where the IEDs were. I was doing a news show, and on any night we could have led with something awful that happened that day — somebody died, a village was blown up. News. Bad stuff. And Larry would just talk. It always seemed to me that he would end up telling me on air that Barbara Eden was really hot, and somehow I would have to get from Barbara Eden being really hot to 300 hostages being taken in Mosul."
    • Larry King Jr., who met his dad for the first time later in life, says: "His legacy is his selflessness — and his generosity to all people"

    TOPICS: Larry King, CNN, Larry King Live, Aaron Brown