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Is the End of ‘Larry King Live’ the End of a ‘Gentlemanly Era?’

king_7-6.jpgWaPo’s Tom Shales gets all nostalgic declaring Larry King‘s departure from CNN’s primetime lineup “the end of a gentlemanly era in TV talk.” He writes:

Maybe Larry Kings cannot thrive or even survive in a world where the norms for discourse are rage, vehemence and character assassination. King wanted to be liked, not feared; admired, not loathed. The veteran broadcaster has no apologies to make, either. For 25 years, he made a radio format work on television, and certainly without being another pretty face. The ugliness might lie ahead, especially if CNN tries to out-shout the boors and demagogues representative of Fox News Channel and MSNBC.

As we await the announcement of a replacement from — as Shales terms it — CNN’s “ever-befuddled” executives, the WaPo columnist asks why King ultimately lost traction with viewers, questioning if it was a booking issue or if CNN’s decision to air an interview with Mick Jagger on “the night of night of a major, important, significant primary election” was indicative of a shift in the network. (As we pointed out, however, there was not much of a sizable increase in ratings for any of the cablers on either of the recent, “major” primary nights.)

Meanwhile, Politico’s Keach Hagey believes that the names in circulation to replace King mean the network might be deciding “to move away from politics at 9pm,” which “would represent a major break from the CNN brand.” King, though, was just as known for his celebrity interviews as his political ones and Piers Morgan, one of those buzzed about names, has significant experience with political sit-downs, so it may be a little early to speculate on a “major break.”

Also, our poll is still open, by the way.

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