Larry King Explains Decision to End CNN Show -- Says It Wasn’t Pressure from the Media

First it was long-time anchor Lou Dobbs, who retired last fall from CNN. Now another fixture of the network will soon be playing another role in the cable news universe.

On CNN's June 29 "Larry King Live," host Larry King, who had never been terribly friendly with conservative guests, announced his decision he would be giving up his show this fall.

"Before I start the show tonight, I want to share some personal news with you," King said. "Twenty-five years ago, I sat across this table from New York Gov. Mario Cuomo for the first broadcast ever of ‘Larry King Live.' And now, decades later, I talked to the guys here at CNN and I told them I'd like to end ‘Larry King Live,' the nightly show that -- this fall and CNN has graciously accepted to agree to, giving me more time for my wife and I to get to the kids' little league games."

King explained he would still contribute CNN and would stay on board until a replacement is found to fill the 9 p.m. ET slot on the network.
"I still be a part of the CNN family, be hosting several Larry King specials on major national and international subjects and we'll be here until a replacement is found, will be here into the fall," he continued. "Tomorrow night, in fact, Elizabeth Edwards will be our special guest. I'm incredibly proud that we with recently made the ‘Guinness Book of World Records' for having the longest-running show with the same host in the same time slot on the same network. With that chapter closing, I'm looking forward to the future, what my next chapter will bring. But for now, for here, it's time to hang up the nightly suspenders. Until then, we've got more shows to do and who knows what the future's going to bring."

King's guest for this special announcement was no other than liberal bomb-thrower Bill Maher and he said to him it was a decision that involved spending more time with his family.

"Well, this was tough, Bill. I mean, it was -- it was time. I was ready to do it. CNN folks agreed to it. We sat down. We're going to do specials and more time with the family," King said. "And I want to expand. I want to do other things that I haven't been able to do."

Maher compared the CNN host to Mickey Mantle because of his longevity and told King he thought he was retiring too soon:

MAHER: I am -- I am reminded of what my father, who was a broadcaster said the day Mickey Mantle retired, say isn't so, he began the broadcast.
KING: You put me in that class?
MAHER: Mickey Mantle? You are the Mickey Mantle of broadcasters. Mickey Mantle played 18 seasons. You played more than that. So, I know some people out there will say it is maybe inappropriate to say too soon for a man who is in his 70s, but it is too soon.

But Maher raised the possibility that other media may have caused King to decide the time was right to hang it up, which King denied. Maher specifically named The New York Times, which has speculated on the departure on King over the past few years:

MAHER: I hope you're -- I hope you're doing this of your own volition and not because of what the media says.
KING: It has nothing to do with it. There was no pressure from CNN. I don't pay attention to that, I love what I do. But it was time, Bill. It was time. It was just time. I will tell you --
MAHER: As long as it is coming from, and not dictated by The New York Times or anybody else.
KING: Not at all.
MAHER: OK.

Over past two years, King has struggled in the ratings behind his cable competition, Fox News Channel's "Hannity" and MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show."