John King: Past, Present & Future

By Chris Ariens 

TVNewser caught up with CNN’s John King after he moderated a panel at this week’s NAB-RTNDA conference. And we were all excited because it was going to be our first video interview. The image to the left is what we got. That’s what you get for $200 at B&H. We’ll try again soon, newsers.

After the jump, the transcript of the interview…

TVNewser: What are the highlights and lowlights covering the election so far?

John King: I’ve been covering the Republicans during the primary, and I think watching a party debate, ‘who are we?’ Watching a party change, from a clearly defined, West Texas, Southerner, swagger, cowboy boots. And then you look at the field of candidates and nobody’s like that. You have now a very different man leading the Republican party. And that’s where I spent most of my time during the primary. Then you look over the wall at the democratic race and it’s history. And you cannot find this anything but compelling, it’s fascinating.

TVNewser: You’ve been covering campaigns since 1988, do you think these three candidates have been treating the media differently?

King: Everytime it changes, and each politician has their own approach to the media. The technology has changed dramatically since my fist campaign in ’88. And the new media there are more people around doing what I would call unconventional things. I’m calling them unconventional but, I’m a former AP wire guy. So when I see mediabistro, when I see bloggers I call that unconventional, but that’s our world now, I say that from an old man’s perspective. The change in our business is quite dramatic.

Campaigns go through ebbs and flows McCain by and large is very accessible, and he probably benefits from media coverage. Although now that he’s the nominee he’s not doing daily avails. Control becomes important to your message. The Clintons, I covered Bill Clinton for a long time and it always went in cycles. When they were in trouble, they needed to communicate, they were your best friends. And when they felt they needed to control something, they were inaccessible. That has been a Clinton playbook trademark.

Obama too, he knows he has the skills to communicate, but they pull him back when they don’t want him taking all the questions.

The pattern is actually fairly predictable. I think you can go back and study past campaigns and you can see the same ebbs and flows when it comes to access.

TVNewser: It’s February 2009, what’s John King doing for CNN?

King: Wow, is that a great question. I have no idea. And I don’t worry about it. I don’t say “no idea” to float some conspiracy theory. February 2009 will be in the early days of a new administration. So there’s no question that we have a great deal of drama in Washington, DC. And the challenge for us in our business is, we have the riveting campaign, people are paying attention in great numbers and they want to know about the people, they want to know about the issues. Then we go from the campaign to the new government. And government is less sexy and you see the interest from our side wane, but I don’t think that will be the case. And right around that time, around February 2009, I assume John King will be looking at the new administration, where will I be standing? What will exactly my job be? I don’t know the answer to that.