A Tale of Two Kings

By Alex Weprin 

CNN’s 7 p.m. host John King was the subject of two articles today. One was a very flattering profile in the conservative publication Newsmax, the other a very critical piece in the New York Post‘s Page Six.

Page Six cites an anonymous source as saying that the network is disappointed in the program’s ratings, and that “The Situation Room” will get back the hour it lost to “Rick’s List” by taking over 7 p.m.

While King’s program has had a hard go of it ratings-wise, it is at heart a political program, and has plenty of time to grow, especially with the midterm elections coming up in November.

CNN executives also likely have their hands full dealing with the new 8 and 9 p.m. programming set to debut this Fall. The 8 p.m. program with Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker will need to find its format, and the network has yet to name a new 9 p.m. host.

Then there is the Newsmax profile:

With his salt-and-pepper hair growing ever whiter, King is a silver fox in training, a Richard Gere look-alike. As he does the “Play by Play” segment on his political show, King looks and sounds like a sportscaster.

Gesturing with his pen, he makes playbook circles in the air. The informality of his clothes – an open-collar shirt and a blue blazer – adds to the jock image.

It is positively glowing. Newsmax also gets King to weight in on his competition at Fox News Channel:

When asked whether CNN could benefit by adopting some of Fox News’ approaches, King says, “People sometimes look at me like I’m crazy, including people where I work sometimes, when I say I don’t begrudge the business model Roger Ailes [CEO of Fox News] has developed, nor do I begrudge MSNBC their business model.”

King admires the way Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly “speak with clarity.” Yet, he says, “It’s not where I fit. It’s not how I’m trained. It’s not what I want to do, and so I try to find a place where I can do reporting, story-telling journalism the way I like it.”