Longtime CNN personality Larry King was in Atlanta over the weekend to spend time with his old boss, Ted Turner.
Specifically King, now doing an online news show, was here for the annual gala supporting the Captain Planet Foundation, launched by CNN founder Ted Turner and now helmed by his daughter, Laura Turner Seydel.
“Ted Turner’s the best person I ever worked for,” King said. “He was intensely loyal, a great friend.”
King was proud to attend the event for Captain Planet, which supports environmental initiatives and works to educate people about eco-friendly practices.
“This is a great foundation,” King said. “Their idea is to educate the world, help children understand we only rent here. This planet is going to go on long after we’re here.”
The affable King was much in demand in the hours before the start of the gala, held at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead. We had to trot through the elegant hotel’s spacious hallways to nab our interview slot, and then sat for a few minutes while King juggled cell phones tracking down the news that his former colleague Candy Crowley was departing CNN after 27 years.
“Put this on Twitter,” King instructed into one cell phone, dictating the news bulletin. Then he rang someone up on his other phone. “Call me back!” he said.
Finally he put away the gadgets, sat still for a minute and invited inquiry, a delightfully loquacious journalist’s journalist: “What would you like to know? Ask me anything.”
The clock was ticking, so here’s what we had time for:
The interview he never got:
“(Cuban dictator Fidel) Castro. Castro ran his country longer than any other world leader ever. Forget politics. He had to do something right. He fascinates me. Revolutionaries win by what history tells us. If America had lost the Revolutionary War what would we have thought of Washington and Jefferson? History may read Castro a great revolutionary. I would have liked to have gotten him.
His worst interview subject:
“Robert Mitchum drove me nuts. I loved him as an actor but he one-worded me.”
His most surprising:
“The one who surprised me the most was (Watergate operative turned author and pundit) G. Gordon Liddy. I liked him because he was so honest and such a maverick.”
On social media:
“I came out of an age that was not ‘viral.’ I can’t imagine what it would be like. If we had social networks when Babe Ruth was playing. The kind of life he led – the drinking, the women. (Former U.S. President) John Kennedy, having affairs literally before reporters’ eyes. You couldn’t get away with that today. Today news spreads so fast you can lose a career in a minute.”
On the state of journalism today:
“I’m a throwback. I’ve been broadcasting seven decades. I grew up on Edward R. Murrow, David Brinkley, Walter Cronkite. Mike Wallace was a hero of mine. Today we have a mass conglomerate of voices out there in the night. Who’s the most trusted man in America? Nobody. There’s a lot of talent out there but there’s so much of it. My generation had it better.”
On the environment:
“When we were kids we used to laugh at people who were interested in the environment. We called them ‘little old ladies in tennis shoes.’ Turns out those little old ladies were right. To not protect the planet is to not care about your children and their children.”