Larry King Joins Russian TV Network to Host 'Mold-Breaking' Political Program

After 56 years in broadcasting and more than 50,000 interviews across the U.S., anyone else would be considered a prime candidate for retirement, but that doesn't apply to Larry King, who will launch a “mold-breaking political talk show” in June for the Russia Today online TV network.

Perhaps failed CNN-FOX-MSNBC-Current anchor Keith Olbermann should pay attention. If no one in America will hire you, take your act international.

While the announcement on the RT website states that King will interview “both leading establishment figures and those who are not afraid to go against the grain,” some critics doubt that the interviewer will really have the freedom -- or the impact -- he used to have now that he's on a Web outlet that has been called “Putin's propaganda network.”

“I have always been passionate about government and issues that impact the public,” the interviewer said, “and I’m thrilled at the opportunity to talk politics with some of the most influential people in Washington and around the country.”

The announcement noted that “Politics With Larry King” will break new ground since he “will not shy away from causing controversy, or using his authority to give a chance to hear voices other media ignore.”

I have interviewed every U.S. president since Nixon, and lest people forget, I helped usher Ross Perot into the national conversation during the 1992 presidential contest. I appreciate the importance of providing a platform to those with real alternative visions for our country’s future.

The network will air the new program -- along with “Larry King Now,” which is broadcast four times a week and was launched on the Hulu and Ora.tv websites during July of 2012 -- from RT's American studios in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

“Larry King has retained his trademark suspenders worn through his 25 years on CNN (he quit the news network in 2010), but has not been afraid to show a more opinionated and frank side, which he says is a must for the new media age,” the news release stated.

“Whether a president or an activist or a rock star was sitting across from him, Larry King never shied away from asking the tough questions, which makes him a terrific fit for our network,” noted Margarita Simonyar, RT’s editor-in-chief, who described her organization as the “anti-Fox News Channel.”

Jon Housman, chief executive officer of Ora.tv, added:

We’re thrilled to bring Larry King’s insights and one-of-a-kind discussions, from celebrities to world leaders, to RT America’s television and online audiences.

The news release also indicated that King's “return to television unleashed a torrent of reactions, both in Russia, where he widely known as an ultimate figurehead of U.S. broadcasting, and in his homeland.”

“With Larry King moving to Russia Today, is he legally obligated to change his name to Larry Czar?” asked @AlexJamesFitz.

Meanwhile, @tomgara stated that these are “dark days for Americans. China owns your bacon, Brazil owns your ketchup, Russia owns your Larry King.”

However, not everyone was excited about the news. Larry O'Connor of Breitbart.com said that the network is “the western version of Pravda” -- the newspaper that was the official voice for Soviet socialism -- and has become a television home for disaffected viewers around the globe and a refuge for activists in the “Occupy” generation.

Referring to Russian president Vladimir Putin, O'Connor called RT “Putin's propaganda network,” and he stated that Putin blocked a finance ministry proposal to cut last year's funding to the channel, which was launched by the Russian government in 2005 to improve the country's image overseas.

O'Connor concluded by stating:

King must still feel burned by CNN for escorting him out the door and replacing him with perennial ratings loser Piers Morgan, but does he really want the coda to his career to be a show on a network that is really nothing more than a propaganda organ for Vladimir Putin's government?

Good question. And here's another: Has Larry King lost his ability to draw the big U.S. audiences he used to attract during his 25 years at CNN?  I suspect we already know the answer to that question.

Randy Hall
Randy Hall