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Mailbag: King, O'Reilly and Grace

The readers write even more about that Larry King story on Sunday:

Great article, and the following phrase, itself, is a splendid, provocative essay: "The parasitic culture of celebrity that's slowly strangling journalism." What an astute assessment. Wish I'd thought of it. Are you and I the only ones who realize the truth of it?

Paul Lyle

Texas

I used to enjoy listening to Larry King on his midnight-to-5 a.m. Mutual Broadcasting System program. I wonder if he ever tells the story anymore of the time when the record stuck when he ducked out of the studio to visit a "friend'' that had called in and told him what a sexy voice he had? My favorite was around Xmas one year when Danny Kaye was his guest.  Danny asked Larry if he knew why grandchildren & grandparents got along so well.  Larry answered "No." Danny said: "Because they have a common enemy."

Larry Sheker

Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
   

Great King interview ... he's one of a kind. Thanks.

David Saldior

New York City

It's no surprise that Larry King doesn't like Bill O'Reilly...O'Reilly has almost double the audience that King does on CNN. In fact, King's viewership is lower than those of O'Reilly, Hannity & Colmes, Great Van Susteren. Larry's anything but a "king'' anymore. His show is now a cartoon of what it once was -- and he's losing the demos most advertisers want. He's had an incredible run -- but it's over, and been over for a long time.

Steve Meyer

Las Vegas, Nevada

I think you're way premature on declaring King's run "over," Steve. He's still got the highest rating on any network in the CNN family -- better than Anderson Cooper's, than Nancy Grace's, than Glenn Beck's. Fox News would sign him in a second if he were available. Lots of people (including everybody else on Fox News) have lower Nielsens than O'Reilly; that doesn't mean their careers are over.

In this interview with Larry King, it's one thing for King to criticize Bill O'Reilly, who broadcasts on another network, quite another to go after Nancy Grace, a CNN colleague. Where does his obvious anger for Ms. Grace spring from? Is he angry because on numerous occasions, in the past, when Ms. Grace was his guest and guest host, she brought her marvelous knowledge of the law, sharp wit and yes, grace to his show, outshining him?

Is he angry because, unlike himself, Ms. Grace has led an exemplary life, caring deeply for others as a fervent advocate for victims rights, over the last 25 years? Is he angry because she has been tagged as the next "Larry King'' & does he worry that she will knock him off the air as his popularity & style continue to decline? In criticizing Ms. Grace's style, Mr. King  becomes harpoonlike himself, trying to defame his colleague.

Finally, Mr. King hits bottom saying: "I don't think it's fair to the judicial system," referring to Ms. Grace's popular program. What does he actually know about the justice system, except as an arrested escapee from a possible conviction for fraud, when the statute of limitations saved him?

No one ever accused Mr. King of being a classy guy and he proves it with his attack on Nancy Grace.

Joe Feinberg

Coral Gables, Florida

Perhaps I should make it clear, Joe, that King's criticisms of Nancy Grace were purely professional. "Nancy is a very sweet person off the air," he told me. "Alway hugging. She gives me credit for her career."

Unfortunately for Larry, he never heard the word research -- nor, it seems, has his
staff. They fly by the seat of their pants and it shows.  Perhaps this is why their
ratings aren't what they were. And, Bill O'Reilly comes up with good topics.

Anne Snyder

Miami

Larry King (like your article) is the triumph of form over substance. He is the worst
of the empty suits in media and he's been bad at it longer than anyone else. Not even
Barbaro's doctor's can help him. You are not helping him, let him pass, please.

John Sneed

Houston

Sorry, John, but I couldn't disagree more with your comment about form over substance. King's show Nafta has never been short on celebrity news, of course, but it can also be a forum for interesting and intelligent policy debates. Way back in 1978, when I was a young reporter in Austin, Texas, King brought his Mutual radio show to town and I sat in one night to write a story. His guest was Walt Rostow, the Lyndon Johnson aide who was one of the principal architects of the Vietnam war. They talked for two hours on the air, then threw it open to callers for another. The rest was an intelligent, articulate debate on the war that was notably absent of the kind of abuse that dominates talk radio today. King also hosted the debate between Al Gore and Ross Perot on NAFTA that, President Clinton said later, resulted in the treaty's enactment. Not exactly Hollywood fluff.

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