Larry King turns 25 in CNN years next week. But it will be a bittersweet celebration.
Here we have yet another article about the 76-year-old anchor’s descent into irrelevancy, this time from The New York Times’ Brian Stelter, who hinges his piece on King’s inability (much the same as his fellow CNN hosts) to compete in the ratings with Fox News and MSNBC.
At 9 p.m., the time slot King used to dominate, he’s a “distant third” behind Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity. Even HLN’s Joy Behar bested him 21 times during the first quarter of this year, King’s worst ever.
King now averages 725,000 viewers—that’s about half the audience he had during the most recent presidential election; he was drawing 1.34 million in the first quarter of 2009.
CNN president Jonathan Klein declined to comment on King’s contract, which is up for renewal next June.
But Stelter offers some insight into what the network’s plans for 9 p.m. might be:
According to CNN employees who would speak only anonymously, Mr. Klein is focused on finding Ms. Brown’s replacement at 8 p.m., and is not planning an imminent change at 9 p.m. (CNN has held talks with Eliot Spitzer, among others, possibly about appearing on a “Crossfire”-style show at 8.)
Mr. King has shown no desire to retire, and he continues to work almost year-round, even coming in to host on weekends when news breaks.
But Mr. King’s contract is up in June 2011, and there has long been speculation that the “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric could slide into his chair. Her contract is up in May 2011, and she sees CNN’s 9 p.m. time slot as a possible new job, according to four of her friends and colleagues.
But two of the people said the time slot was looking less appealing now, given the ratings slide.
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