From Tunku Varadarajan’s review of CNN’s “Larry King Live” in the Journal, Oct. 25, 2002. King died Saturday at 87:
It would be easy to accuse Mr. King of flacking for every scoundrel who provides the crowd-pleasing humiliation that keeps ratings healthy—or for every worthy who’s written a book and wants to clear his throat on air about it. Some might believe that his program is morally questionable, but entertaining. . . . In fact, it’s often quite the opposite: hugely dull, but morally sound, in that it offers a worthy democratic service, giving the popularly reviled members of society—shoplifting actresses, allegedly homicidal pols and even nonwealthy, nonpowerful criminal suspects—an opportunity to face their accusers, as it were, with equal viewership. . . .
True, the very wealthy and privileged are held to a higher standard of social comportment, as they should be. But often Mr. King—by serving as a blank slate, like a good psychiatrist—gives them a valuable opportunity to make a full confession with their own ill-chosen words. And sometimes the benefit of a “Larry King Live” appearance is ambiguous (as with the parents of JonBenet Ramsey, or Susan McDougal). The important point is that the famous and notorious alike are given the chance, with America tuned in, to defend a life’s reputation, or to lessen the damage of their 15 minutes of fame.
Can this be such a bad thing?