TVPROP From Talk to Infotainment
There is less angry oldprop on television talk shows than on radio. One possible explanation is that too much anger in plain view is a turnoff. That helps to explain the success of Larry King, who in George Bush's words, succeeded in introducing a kinder, gentler news interview that was conducted by the rules of communication rather than the conventions of advocacy journalism. In the King version, the interviewer and the interviewee address problems together rather than define issues separately, substitute accommodation for conflict, and create an environment of inclusion in which the audience feels empowered. As the arbiter of a new medium and a new journalism, King enfranchised a broad spectrum of the popular culture.
Early in the 1992 presidential campaign, the New York Times carried a photo of King across the top of a page in his shirt and suspenders leaning across the table toward an intent Ross Perot. The backdrop was a stunning vista of lights that encompassed Los Angeles. The legend in reverse type -- white on black said:
Larry King, Kingmaker to the Pols: So Larry King, the talk-show host, finally takes a vacation, in May, his first trip to Israel. It's a "Roots" kind of thing for a 58-year-old guy from Brooklyn whose given surname was Zeiger. In Jerusalem, he joins the crowds praying at the Wailing Wall. His heart is full, and he is more than a bit awestruck when suddenly the man next to him, a Hasidic Jew in traditional dress, pauses in his chanting, stares and says:
"Larry! Is (Ross) Perot for real or what?"1
King could have answered "yes," for it was in response to his gentle prob-