Changing of the Guard

Coming Soon?

There had been talk for weeks that CNN was making moves to replace Larry King in their Prime Time lineup. Reps for the network had been doing their best to pooh-pooh that notion, saying the linchpin of their nighttime programming wasn’t going anywhere. They also wanted to disabuse the notion that British “journalist” Piers Morgan was going to get the 9pm Eastern time slot. Of course, these were the same folks who denied that disgraced former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer was getting a comeback vehicle in the 8pm hour (or “where CNN shows go to die,” based on history).

Is the caller there?

Anyway, I didn’t actually see Larry make his big announcement Tuesday night. Honestly, I haven’t sat down to watch an episode of “Larry King Live” since he had the debate between Al Gore and Ross Perot. I picked it up off Facebook, in a post by former CNNer and current CBSer Betty Nguyen. It seems, that after 25 years, Mr. King has decided to step away from his show, although he’ll stick around for specials and such. I would point to the example of Walter Cronkite stepping down from the Evening News. Even though the network put him on its board of directors, his show “Universe” and any use of him for news coverage seemed to end pretty quickly. I have a feeling that CNN had as much to do with Larry stepping down as Larry did.

For a long time, the one constant high point of CNN Prime was King. Aaron Brown, Paula Zahn, Connie Chung, Natalie Allen, Joie Chen, Jim Moret, Wolf Blitzer, lil’ Andy Cooper and a few other people I’m sure I’m forgetting failed to hold the line against the growth of Fox News (as I mentioned in April, they’ve been #1 in cable news for 8 years now). CNN doesn’t seem to be doing too well against MSNBC lately either. Don’t feel bad for the CNN. It still makes more money than Fox News, whose parent company doesn’t have as developed a group of networks at Turner Broadcasting.

After all, Fox has its main network, Fox News, FX and the Fox Movie Channel. TimeWarner has HBO, Cinemax, CNN, HLN, CNN en Español, CNN International, CNN Radio, Turner Classic Movies, TNT, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, the CW and a few cross-branded Spanish-language channels I watched on my recent cruise.

Even so, there’s been a seismic shift in how cable TV works. Even though CNN has made attempts to go “opinionated,” they haven’t had anything to the type of luck the other networks have. Even the other cable channels have bulked up on the crappiness quotient. Bravo used to be an arts channel.  Now it seems it’s all siliconed and botoxed “housewives” and snarky reality cooking and design contests that seem to be more rip offs of MTV’s “Real World” than actual contests that display anyone’s skill.

Maybe it’s a good time to go. Enjoy your kids’ Little League games, Larry.

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About Doug Johnson

I spent 25 years in the news business, working in print, radio and television. After a steady rise to the middle, I made the leap to the private sector, which chewed and then tried spitting me out after 2 years. I zigged (instead of zagging) into a position in television production.
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