The last time we checked, the number one goal of a television network was to get the best ratings possible. Employing a suspender-laced geriatric is not high on the list. When will CNN realize this and fire Larry King?
According to first quarter ratings outlined in the Times today, CNN's ratings are very bad: Anderson Cooper and Larry King collectively lost "half their viewers" this quarter. Larry King's audience dropped 43 percent. But even worse:
Mr. King, whose show has been regularly eclipsed by Rachel Maddow's on MSNBC (and is almost quadrupled by Sean Hannity's show on Fox), is now threatened by a new host, Joy Behar on HLN (formerly Headline News.)
Uh oh. Let's look at the competitors throwing around Larry King—who is apparently valued by CNN enough that they provide him access to their private jet: Rachel Maddow. OK, forgivable. Larry King is of an earlier time. (Somewhere between late Victorian and Prohibition, according to our calculations.) Rachel Maddow is fresh and new, and lesbian. No way can Bones McGee hope to compete with Maddow when he is so out of it, demographically speaking. (Although he has gamely adapted to Twitter, and is attempting to disguise how old he is by tweeting pictures of himself with Snoop Dogg. Sorry, Larry, maybe in 1998. Try interviewing random people on Chatroulette or something)
But Hannity? This show's trademark segment—"The Great American Panel"—seems to only feature NASCAR drivers and fishing guides talking about American foreign policy. The set looks like a chain family restaurant about three notches below TGI-Fridays, and Hannity himself has all the incisiveness of a piece of shale someone wrapped a suit around and somehow passed off to Fox Execs as a television news personality. And the fact that Joy Behar "threatens" this old man is very sad indeed—almost to the point where we feel bad commenting on it. Like, don't kick the guy when he's already being punched in the balls by Joy Behar, right? Let's just say we are confident that if someone gave us a Flip camera, $100 an episode, and an old panel van to tool around in, we could beat Joy Behar in the 10pm slot.
This would be different if Larry King was in some way redeemable. He is not. He functions basically as a human wall onto which disgraced politicians and worthless celebrities can fling their shit and smear it around while dozing seniors try to remember what they're watching long enough to realize they hate it. Larry King's contract runs out June 2011. Bye Larry King! And if there's anything to speculation that Anderson Cooper might move onto King's turf: Yes, please. But only if he does the entire show while swimming with sharks.