Iconic American talk show host Larry King is to front a new show on the Kremlin-backed RT (formerly Russia Today) news channel, it was announced on May 29.
A clip of King making the announcement was released on YouTube, with King using the station's catch phrase "question more". "I would rather ask questions to people in positions of power instead of speaking on their behalf. That's why you can find my show, Larry King Now, right here on RT. Question more," he said in the clip.
King will follow in the footsteps of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who hosted a series of interview shows last year to much opprobrium from the international media; celebrity Russia-basher and Guardian correspondent Luke Harding called Assange a "useful idiot" in an op-ed that slammed the station.
Assange's show was not a great success - Assange is neither a journalist nor a natural presenter. The exact opposite can be said of King who is a master of his art and is probably the best known interviewer in the US following a 25-year career at CNN.
The King show is a coup for the seven-year old station, which despite its rough edges has been getting better, although it is still heavily criticized for its softly-softly approach when it comes to reporting on domestic Russian politics.
However, it is gaining fans abroad, especially in the US, for its alternative view and critical position on international affairs. The station really came into its own during last year's Occupy Wall Street movement. While the US mainstream media were slow to take up the story, RT gave it blanket coverage from the early stages and it was nominated for an Emmy for its reporting. That story brought in a lot of new American viewers, which RT has managed to hang on to subsequently.
Margarita Simonyan, RT's chief, announced the deal with King via Twitter: "Well, friends, we have a new host after all. Please, no fainting. This is like, 'could I, a barefoot girl, imagine 20 years ago?.?.?.' So, Larry King works with us now."
The show, called "Politics with Larry King," will begin in June and be produced by Ora.tv, a US on-demand digital television network, as well as Larry King Now, which was launched on internet TV station Hulu and Ora.tv in July 2012. The programmes will be recorded in Washington and Los Angeles, with RT the exclusive US broadcaster for both, the station said.
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