It's Time for Television's Old Guard to Retire

Thanks to Larry King's latest divorce scandal and his sagging ratings, some people are suggesting his days on CNN are numbered. Should he retire now before CNN gives him a shove? Of course. And he's not the only one.

The ratings for TV news broadcasts are down. Audiences are growing older and older. Younger people are getting their news from the internet; they watch The Daily Show to keep up to speed on current events. No, none of this is news. But it certainly doesn't help that a bunch of geriatrics are heading up the broadcasts. Larry King is 76. In many professions he'd be well past retirement age. But still he drones on every night, forgetting facts and people's names, just trying to make his way through another broadcast. Sure, he has to keep making money to pay off all those ex-wives, but Larry King needs to be put to rest.

There are countless young (and younger) people trying to get into the television news business. But with septuagenarians unwilling to give up their tenured posts, there's a logjam. King needs to step aside so that someone younger and fresher can take his post and make some room at the bottom for the next generation of TV newsmen, a generation that might come up with ways to turn the ratings downturn around. We're not saying to ditch King in favor of (ew) Ryan Seacrest, but there are plenty of other options out there.

Other than King, CNN isn't that bad. Sure, Wolf Blitzer is getting a little long in the tooth, but he's only 62. We give him another five years, tops. The worst offender, by far, is CBS and 60 Minutes. There is nothing sadder than seeing the hair poke out of Andy Rooney's 91-year-old ears every Sunday while he tells us to pick up after ourselves. Actually, there is, such as the handful of occasions in recent years when he's said something racist, which may have something to do with the fact that this country was segregated until he was in his late 40s. Andy, please let us throw you a great party and then go away.

At 78, Morley Safer has been working on the program since 1970. Yes, he has been working the same job for 40 years. That is certainly something to be commended, but he's had his day. He said last summer he has no plans to retire, but if that's the case, then it may be time for CBS to make those plans for him. He is an institution, but so is 60 Minutes, so either the captain goes down with the ship and the the network has to get a whole new ship. Or they can just buy the captain a gold watch and cut their losses. Seeing him sitting next to Anna Wintour and Blake Lively at a fashion show last year was painful. And at 69, Leslie Stahl and Bob Simon are pushing it, too. The show has been gussying itself up in recent years with some younger correspondents. It's time to let them take over full-time. Why not hire that Lisa Ling to replace Stahl? She's doing wonderful work that's widely ignored. Give this young girl a platform!

These are all successful and storied journalists who deserve respect. But they need to do the honorable thing and go gently into the good night. If the television news has any hopes of surviving it needs to get some fresh blood on the air. And it's not like they have to go home, but they can't stay here. Eighty-year-old Barbara Walters, for example, has set a wonderful example. She gave up 20/20 and even her Oscar special. She wrote her autobiography and now just shuffles around the retirement village she made for herself called The View. That's fine. She can keep daytime as long as some younger people are around her. But it was nice that she realized it was time for "new challenges" in her golden years.

If only everyone else would follow her lead. We're not saying there should be a mandatory retirement age for news anchors, but after dealing with so many breaking stories, late election nights, public criticism, and personal scandals, you would think that that they had their fill of working. You'd think they might be tired. They haven't, it seems, but the audience sure seems to be tired of watching them.

[Images via Getty]