Larry the King On Social Media

by Adam Popescu

In a conversation with CNN’s soon-departing Larry King, the great interviewer talked about the importance of social media, the state of journalism, and even the WikiLeaks scandal.

Larry told me he had a Twitter account, but didn’t tweet (he said his producer did so on his behalf, asking King’s approval before posting to his profile: @kingsthings). Even though King said he didn’t know how to use Twitter, he said he recognized the value of it, and the inherent need to stay relevant. If there’s one thing about the Brooklyn-born Beverly Hillbilly, almost no journalist has managed to stay as relevant as long as the stooped-shoulder, breakfast-bagel eating master of the mic.

The King’s last show is tonight. Big up, Larry!

AP: What’s the importance of social media in connection to journalism?

LK: I think it has become the order of the day. I don’t know if Twitter or Facebook is journalism…everybody is a journalist…it’s almost too fast to comprehend. I have trouble keeping up with it.

AP: Do you tweet for yourself or does your staff handle it?

LK: Greg Christensen, my producer, does the typing. I guess it has value to people…I’m going to keep it going after my nightly show because I find it fascinating.

AP: Are you a fan of the paywall system?

LK: I guess they have a point—they’re bringing you information. Why is that information free? Newspapers are in trouble. Still nothing like print. The times current trends, probably seeing the downing of newspapers if providing info for free. They should have an income. I’m not an economist, never ran a business. I’m a talent, I run a show, but I understand…if I give you a Hershey bar for free non-charge…

AP: What are some things you want to see come back?

LK: How bout the typewriter? [laughs] One of my favorite parts of the day is opening newspapers.

AP: What are your feelings on the WikiLeaks organization?

LK: I believe in the first amendment. Speech and also response. I knew the Pentagon Paper story very well. I think what the website did was right.

AP: What about revealing the names of people in the field?

LK: I find no problem with it. Always a difficult thing—what can I say, what can I reveal? Will it cost a life? We all have a responsibility. That’s the problem of this whole openness of Twitter…never going to control it…like shooting at windmills. When I was a school kid, the source was Edward Morrow…we might have been better served…not sure we’re better served today. It is what it is. It’s the information age. It’s a fact of life…certainly more thoughtful. Now it’s put out, get it out…

AP: Who do you follow on Twitter?

LK: Do I follow any twitterers, Greg? [asks his producer Greg] Greg gives me info when people are guests on the show. Do I read things on Twitter, do I know how to tweet? I’m not into technology myself, but I’m very, very aware of it.

AP: What are some innovations in social media you would like to see?

LK: If we had a brilliant idea, we would’ve invented it.

AP: What are your tools of the trade?

LK: My producers…I read five to six newspapers a day. Not everything, but scanning. I watch CNN, sports a lot. I have a lot of people who give me information.

To see more of the 77-year-old King, check out his four upcoming specials for CNN….or just go to Nate ‘N Al’s Deli in Beverly Hills on a Sunday morning. Eggs, lox, scooped out bagel.

“We’ll be right back.”

—Adam Popescu