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Trump Impeachment Trial Delayed Until February, Senate Will Receive Article Of Impeachment Monday; Pres. Biden: Urgent Action Needed On Economic Crisis, Signs Orders On Stimulus Checks; Survey: Six Out Of 10 Americans Don't Know When Or Where To Get Vaccine. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired January 23, 2021 - 08:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer announcing the trial will begin the week of February 8.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody wants an impeachment at a start of a new administration where you're hoping to turn over a new leaf.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are millions of Americans out there who believe that the election was stolen and they believe it because Donald Trump and congressional Republicans told him that so now they've got this Frankenstein monster that is raging in the village and they don't know what to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: January is now the second deadliest month for coronavirus. So for more than 64000 deaths recorded, more than 8300 in just the previous two days, underscoring the need to improve vaccine distribution.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our biggest limiting factor right now is vaccine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the lack of candor, did the lack of facts in some cases over the last year cost lives?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NIAID: You know it very likely did.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: That's a good one. That's a good one in Saint Louis. Good morning to you. Former President Trump will go on trial in the Senate for the second time on February 9. Now here's what's going to happen. On Monday House Democrats will walk over the single charge of incitement of insurrection to the Senate but the trial will begin two weeks later as senators they've reached a deal to delay it.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And President Biden is attempting to push ahead with his agenda at this point. He's taking executive action to address the pandemic, the economic crisis and that includes expanding food aid and promoting raise in the minimum wage for federal workers saying we need to act like we're in a national emergency.

Another urgent matter as well is fixing this vaccine roll out. A new study finds about 6 in 10 people here in the U.S. don't know when or where to get their shot and governors say they need help sorting out the vaccine distribution mess.


GOV. SPENCER COX (R-UT): Well look, we shouldn't - it shouldn't be the Hunger Games like it was with PPE.


PAUL: So let's start here on Capitol Hill about bipartisan support for convicting former President Trump. Still looks unlikely. So far Republicans are publicly saying they expect Trump to be acquitted.

BLACKWELL: Now CNN has learned that some influential members of the party have been quietly lobbying for conviction. They believe it's crucial and critical for the future of the Republican Party. CNN congressional reporter Daniella Diaz is on Capitol Hill.

So the article is set to be delivered on Monday. Talk us through it.

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: That is completely correct Victor. We have a start date for the trial. The article be delivered on Monday. Two weeks later on February 9 the trial will begin. This gives time for both sides to be able to craft their message for to - for the message to convict president, former President Donald Trump.

Now all eyes are on Mitch McConnell as you mentioned, there is a lobbying effort of Republicans quietly trying to lobby against former President Donald Trump, trying to encourage other Republicans to convict him. Now it's all very silent, we don't have any names.

There of course are some senators we are watching closely because they do tend to you know vote their own conscious separate of the party. This includes Senator Lisa Makowski, Senator Collins, Susan Collins and Mitt Romney. Now Mitch McConnell has been very critical of former President Donald Trump especially after the January 6 insurrection so it will be interesting to see how he weighs in on the next two weeks.

PAUL: Yes, we will be watching. Daniella Diaz, thank you.

BLACKWELL: So as the Senate moves closer to that impeachment trial, the Biden administration is trying to focus on the president's agenda.

PAUL: CNN White House reporter Jasmine Wright is with us now. Jasmine, good to see you this morning. We know that the administration here is pushing aggressively for this COVID relief package, for the cabinet confirmations. Talk to us about how this impeachment trial could interject on that and slow things down.

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well Christi, with this delay Biden has been given more time. President Biden will have more time to get some of those cabinet members hopefully confirmed in this next week.

Also more time to begin those discussions and continue those discussions on that $1.9 trillion coronavirus package that he intends to present to Congress. Now yesterday before the decision was made to delay, he was asked about the potential for that week to do more of his - more of his agenda. Take a listen to him here.


REPORTER: Do you support Mitch McConnell's timeline for a February impeachment trial?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I haven't heard the details but I do think that having some time to get the administration up and running, the more time we have to get up and running to meet these crises, the better.


WRIGHT: Now Biden and his administration are focused on first getting those national security like Antony Blinken nominees confirmed as well as Treasury Secretary like Janet Yellen. So far he's only had two out of those 23 cabinet nominations confirmed. When he started his tenure on Wednesday, he had none. That is not exactly usual for a president in his first days in office.


Now as well as he'll have time to get some of those cabinet members confirmed with the delay, he'll also have time on the legislative side to begin those really bipartisanship conversations with Republicans and Democrats on this bill helping shape it to present it to Congress this really massive $1.9 trillion coronavirus bill.

But in the absence of any of those legislative victories are any bills being presented to Congress Biden has been legislating really bi- executive action and that includes executive action to pull back, walk back some of those movies made by Donald Trump including signing executive action to reverse that travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries and stop construction on that Mexico border wall but also to go further.

He invoked the Defense Production Act to speed up making supplies for vaccines in effort to his mission to really control coronavirus as he has said multiple times. So with this delay, he hopes to continue to move the ball on again some of those nominees as well as some of those agenda - those policies that he is looking forward to do but next week, he will continue to sign more executive actions. Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: All right, Jasmine, thank you so much. Let's bring in CNN Political Analyst Seung Min Kim, White house reporter for The Washington Post. Good morning to you.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

BLACKWELL: Thank you for being on so now you know share a byline on a story that says that Biden may find he can get a big plan or a bipartisan plan but not both. Do we know how badly the president wants bipartisan support that he might be willing to sacrifice some of these big ticket items?

MIN KIM: Well, bipartisanship was kind of the name of the game for Joe Biden when he was a senator for 36 years and he kind of preached - he kind of depicted himself on the campaign trail as someone who could reach out to Republicans who had these existing relationship with GOP senators to be able to legislate and make big deals.

From what our reporting on Capitol hill suggests and that and also just interviews with senators, even the likeliest target of that bipartisan bonhomie with President Biden are very skeptical of that $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package and a lot of people say that--

BLACKWELL: Seung Min, I'm sorry. I'm going to have to interrupt you. We just got some breaking news. I apologize. We have to come in.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BLACKWELL: We have lost a legend. Larry King has died. He was 87 years old.

PAUL: And part of the CNN family for so many years here. I mean his career spanned six decades and he spent 25 years with us here at CNN. He engaged newsmakers as you know around the world. Wolf Blitzer takes a look at some of his most memorable interviews.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: He was the King of talk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Larry was the face of CNN.

BLITZER: From presidents to professional athletes.

LARRY King, HOST, LARRY King LIVE: Do you still face racism when you play?

BLITZER: Music royalty.

KING: How do they tell you you're going to be a knight.

BLITZER: To actual royalty. Movie stars to murders.

KING: What's it like to kill someone?

BLITZER: Heads of state to captains of industry.

KING: Is that a logical expansion bill from Microsoft?

BLITZER: No one captured pop culture like Larry King on his iconic show.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was breaking news, it was long profiles, it was presidents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was the most interesting show that we had.

BLITZER: Interesting in part because King landed so many exclusives.

KING: Deep throat himself. Mark Feld finally speaks.

BLITZER: And got hurt to get stars to open up.

KING: A good question can open up doors in my mind that I would never think of discussing with anybody.

BLITZER: Larry King made news, broke news and broke ground.

KING: Together for the first time ever on television Jordan's King Hussein, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat talked about peace in the Middle East.

BLITZER: In a live TV anything can happen.

KING: Only a lizard.

BLITZER: And on Larry King Live, it certainly did.


KING: Goodbye.

BLITZER: He got up close and personal on more than 50,000 interviews across a career spanning more than six decades. Not bad for a Jewish boy from Brooklyn. Born in 1933. Back then he was Lawrence Zeiger.

KING: My father died when I was 9.5. I was on relief for three years. I've dreamed of being on the radio and that is all I ever dreamed of.

BLITZER: That dream came true in the 1950s in Miami, Florida. New city, new job and a new name courtesy of his boss.


KING: I got the Miami Herald open and there was an ad for Kings Wholesale liquors and he said that's your name Larry King.

BLITZER: In the late seventies, King hosted a show airing coast to coast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mutual radio presents the Larry King show.

BLITZER: A national audience got to know King and his knack for a lively conversation.

KING: What do you want in an interview is a passion, a sense of humor, ability to explain what you do very well. And a little bit of a chip on your shoulder.

BLITZER: Ted Turner came calling in 1985. He needed a new host for his fledgling cable news network. This is the premier edition of Larry King Live.

TED TURNER, FOUNDER, CNN: I think we both put each other on the map.

KING: We made CNN because everyone started coming to that show.

BLITZER: Among them the leaders of the free world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to dwell in the Watergate thing.

KING: You might well have been reelected if you didn't pardon Richard Nixon. What are you proudest of? What is it like to be shot?

BLITZER: Former CNN White House Producer, Wendy Walker oversaw King's show for 18 years.

WENDY WALKER, FMR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, LARRY King LIVE: Larry talked to all the presidents and I think they all felt very comfortable talking to him.

KING: Do you still like this gentleman?

WALKER: Nobody knew if Larry was a Republican or Democrat. He had no agenda.

BLITZER: One frequent guest even filled in for Larry before moving on to other things.

DONALD J. TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm Donald Trump sitting in for Larry tonight.

KING: Trump was a great guest because he was a character what president, I never thought of this person.

BLITZER: Larry King Live had an international audience. Global leaders knew if they talked to King, they talked to the world.

NELSON MANDELA: Terrorist depends on--

KING: Who wins.

MANDELA: Yes. I was called terrorist yesterday but then came up with - many people embraced me including my enemies.

KING: Was there a holocaust?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to impose your viewpoint on me.

KING: No, it's not a viewpoint, it's a question.

I normally don't like to get argumentative but that really drove me up a loop.

BLITZER: As an interviewer, King usually was easy going but sometimes critics were not.

WALKER: I love having people say that Larry asked softball questions because I just figured more people would come on. I think it was more that he didn't ask long questions. He asked those short questions that's - so it would be about the guest.

BLITZER: Sometimes it really was about King or really his signature suspenders. He started wearing them in the eighties after we lost weight following heart surgery.

KING: You both wore braces in my honor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right. We certainly did. We wanted to just because you always wear these things.

BLITZER: Sometimes the show focused on more serious subjects.

KING: Welcome to a special edition of Larry King Live. The North American Free Trade Agreement.

BLITZER: Like the historic NAFTA debate he moderated in 1993. It was Larry's most watched show on CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you stop it without NAFTA?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me your home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm listening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's because you haven't quit talking.

KING: - clearly won that debate and Clinton called me up the day after that day and he said I owe you big time.

BLITZER: June 1994, another historic TV moment unfolds while King is on the air.

KING: Police believe that OJ Simpson is in that car.

BLITZER: The slow speed chase gave way to the trial of the century and one of the biggest stories of King's career.

WALKER: The OJ Simpson story it was the first reality TV.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now live from Los Angeles, here's Larry King.

BLITZER: After court wrapped up for the day, key figures in the trial headed to King's show night after night.

WALKER: We ended up knowing all the players and Johnnie Cochran.

KING: A lawyer doesn't have to believe his client did or didn't do something, correct?

WALKER: To Marcia Clark.

KING: Did you say I am - we are fighting a losing battle here?


WALKER: It was such a shocking amazing story that we covered it from the beginning until the end.

BLITZER: When it was over even the man at the center of it all went to King first.

KING: With us on the phone now is OJ Simpson.

OJ SIMPSON: So many of my friends have told me that you've been fair and in hosting your show and bringing the points of view from both sides.

BLITZER: Covering the trial from Los Angeles affected King's personal life. That's where he met his seventh wife Shawn. They were together more than 20 years before filing for divorce in 2019 but his longest relationship was with the microphone.


KING: I was in love with what I was doing. You know why? It never lets me down. And this is my blanket.

BLITZER: In dark times, viewers turned to King to help make sense of the world. He said the hardest year he ever covered was 911.

KING: Tonight we'll visit Ground zero, a place of unspeakable horror and extraordinary heroes.

BLITZER: King hosted telephones benefiting victims of disasters like the Haiti earthquake and hurricane Katrina. He started his own charity after his first heart attack in the late 80s. The long-time smoker also had diabetes, successfully fought prostate and lung cancer and underwent quintuple bypass surgery.

In the spring of 2019, King checked back into the hospital for chest pain, one of many hospital stays for reported cardiac and circulation issues. In the summer of 2020, he mourned the loss of two children your son Andy to a heart attack and his daughter Chaia to lung cancer.

After a quarter century at CNN, King decided to hang up his cable news suspenders.

KING: Welcome to the last Larry King Live. Hard to say that. I knew this day was coming.

BLITZER: It was 2010 and by then King had set the Guinness world record for longest running show with the same host on the same network in the same time slot.

KING: It was a wonderful ride. Best years in my life.

BLITZER: He was done with CNN but he wasn't finished.

KING: Welcome to Larry King now.

BLITZER: In 2012, King returned to the interview chair on the digital streaming network ORA TV.

KING: I haven't changed. Technology has changed.

BLITZER: Larry King spent his life asking others about themselves but when the King of talk was asked about himself, he reflected on a broadcasting legacy that entertained and likened and endured.

KING: Through his ability, he brought information and entertainment to people in times of stress, he helped them overcome it, in times of joy, he helped them enjoy it. Loved every minute of it.


BLACKWELL: And we will have more on the life and career and legacy of Larry King. Do we have Brian Stelter on the phone right now? So we won't go to break. Let's bring Brian right in. Brian, good morning to you. First your reaction to this news that Larry King at age 87 has died.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: There will never be another broadcaster like Larry King. He is a national and international treasure and I know that so many viewers, listeners hearing about his death have their own memories, their own favorite episodes, their own favorite interviews but it's also about the body of work that he was able to produce over so many decades.

The sense that at 9:00 PM eastern time, 6:00 PM out west you knew he'd be there every night for 25 years yes. No matter what was happening and yes, he would he would tell you about the political world and about international scandals but also bring you home with celebrities, with stars, with the people that make life worth living and make life magical.

It was that incredible ability to cover both the OJ Simpson trial but also you know take you into the personal lives of the people you want to know. That ability to cover it all and to do it in a way that was so uplifting and welcoming because of the really extraordinary skills that he had and had for so long.

And that's why there will be never be another Larry King.

PAUL: You wonder about his family. We heard there how he had lost a son to a heart attack. His son Andy. His daughter Chaia to lung cancer. Two conditions that he also himself had suffered so there has been loss in his family and I have to think that when his son Andy and his daughter Chaia passed, Larry himself was probably a pillar to his family and now that they've lost him, you know we certainly wonder how they're doing and sending our prayers and thoughts to them.

STELTER: I do think that there was an element of heart break for Larry and toward the end of his life and this is something we talked about when he had coronavirus, a number of weeks ago and he was hospitalized at Cedar Sinai in Los Angeles. He had had a very hellish a couple of years after having almost passed away himself, recovered from a stroke and seen two of his children die.

You know it also speaks of perseverance however and he had shown so much perseverance in his career and had interviewed so many people about these subjects as well, you know you think about 25 years at CNN. Then leaves CNN in 2010, starts hosting a new show for Ora TV, continues doing that for the better part of a decade.

You know that that willingness to continue doing that, continue finding new ways to interview is something that speaks of perseverance.


But I do think that in the past year to suffer so much personal loss, had to have been absolutely hellish for Larry and - and for his family.

BLACKWELL: Yes and what we remember as viewers is his ability just to lean forward and ask the uncomplicated question that each one of us at home wanted an answer to. I mean they weren't over - they weren't too freely of a question. It was just straight to the point.

STELTER: And you know, honestly that's what I tell young people, young journalists who are starting their careers now. We talk about what is - what is the secret to interviewing? If they keep it short and simple, it's to ask the short question, not to get in the way of the person that you are interviewing and that is what Larry King was able to do it again and again night after night.

Just recently you know there was television network announcing we're going to have a new Larry King show and I laughed a little bit because I thought, you can't have a new Larry King show. There's no such thing because there's only one Larry King and - but that idea that idea that you can sit down and have an in depth interview and reveal the interviewee through the questions, that is a timeless format and we will see people try to recreate and then then try it again.

But I think you have to have this innate curiosity, this willingness to get out of the way, this willingness you know even to embarrass yourself a little bit by asking the basic question that that you know you might already know the answer to and Larry had all of that. Even after leaving CNN, you know we were always calling on him when there was breaking news, when celebrities died, when politicians died because he have these incredible stories about them.

I was really struck last time I saw him in person in Los Angeles. How unassuming he was. You know walking through the doors of CNN Los Angeles, still appreciating being there. You know not acting like he owns the joint even though he practically did and that's something I really respected about him.

PAUL: And he obviously a big part of his success was he talked about you had to have passion, you had to have humor. He had this very adroit ability to add humor into moments that might have been uncomfortable. He just knew how to - how to break the ice with people and you heard in that piece there how much people trusted him and that trust, it matters.

It matters in every way when you're sitting across the table from somebody looking him in the eye and asking them to open up about their life so to Larry King, we certainly remember. We will have so much more on him throughout the day. Brian Stelter, thank you so much.

I know Brian's going to stick with us here but do stay close as we look more into the life of a Larry King who sadly has passed away at the age of 87, a member of the CNN family we hold so dear.




ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking news.

BLACKWELL: More now on the breaking news. Broadcasting legend Larry King has died at age 87. CNN's Michael Smerconish is with us now and he was once a guest on Larry King show. Michael, your first thoughts after hearing of the death of Larry King.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I'm tempted to say with great reverence, Victor is in Atlanta, hello because he had such a unique broadcast style and I always respected his abilities because he was a talk radio guy.


SMERCONISH: You know he was a master at talk radio who Victor and Christi was able to translate that skill set to television and for those who don't remember, it was the show. I mean Larry's show on CNN was appointment viewing. You went there to watch the newsmakers of the day. When something was going on in the country and was captivating the news, you knew they were going to end up on Larry's show.

You knew that it was going to be long form which I loved. It wasn't rushed, it wasn't a four minute segment. You know Larry could spend an hour with the legends of the day and something else that pops into my mind because this news is just catching me cold and I'm just off the cuff here, civility.

He was never a nasty guy, he was an inquisitive guy, he was a conversationalist and today on the day of his passing, I don't know his politics, I don't know his ideology. I just know that he was a very engaging, old school talk show host and I guess at the end of my very short list, I would have to say suspenders.

I mean you know those suspenders were synonymous with Larry King so he'll be sadly missed and Victor yes, I did have the pleasure of being on with him a couple of times and I can't tell you what a thrill that was.

I mean because frankly you know to be a person that I try to be which is a commentator about political events to be on Larry King show to be on Larry King Live, oh my God, that was as big as it got.

PAUL: So Michael, talk to us about - about that experience. Do you remember the questions that the asked you? Do you remember what it felt like to have him address you personally and truly as he did because he was really authentic about it? Want to know what you thought.


SMERCONISH: I remember I would - you know CNN was still - this was in the latter stages of his career and CNN was still at Columbus circle and I was in a very tiny studio and like there he was, I tell you something Christi, this really funny. One recollection that I have is of being on that show, a much younger Michael Smerconish with a much younger Kellyanne Conway.

I think Lanny Davis you know was also on that show so we were somewhat of a rogue's gallery together with him but it was - it was big. I've had the privilege of being on many people's shows to talk politics but there was only one Larry King and that was the place you wanted to be.

That's where the books got sold. That's where the A-list actors and actresses came out to promote a movie. That's where you know politicians came to announce their candidacy and of course you know Larry reigned in the OJ era. When I think of that OJ Simpson trial that captivated the nation for a year.

Larry was the host of the show where you'd go to decompress and find out what had happened. Larry was a show where you would go and you would see Dominick Dunne and you would get the whole recap while the rest of us have been at work all day like you know what the hell happened in that OJ case. Larry was the guy.

BLACKWELL: Yes and you covered a bit of what I think was the magic element of the show where Larry could cover the big investigation to the pop culture interview and the celebrity interview and politics and do all of them well and not everyone can play so well in every genre.

SMERCONISH: Victor, I - you're so right. I mean I can - I have an image in my head. You probably are rolling some B-roll while I'm speaking, I don't even know but I have a vision in my head of Bill Clinton with Larry King. I have a vision in my head of Frank Sinatra with Larry King. I have a vision in my head, I think I'm right about this I'm either Larry King kissing Marlon Brando or Marlon Brando kissing Larry King.

BLACKWELL: It was a mutual decision.

PAUL: It looked like it was mutual. Yes, it did. They both kind of went in together I think.

SMERCONISH: So you know like to Victor's point, it was the place where you went for everything and that's what I loved about it because sadly you know we've all gotten a little bit pigeon holed into particular areas and to particular viewpoint and it was also a place where the nation would go you know what I mean. In other words the landscape hadn't been so whacked up that

Republicans were headed in one direction and Democrats in another and demographics and so no, no, no, this was must watch viewing and we were all attracted to it.

I can't say enough about the impact that the way he conducted himself influenced a lot of people who I think are in broadcasting still.

PAUL: Yes, when we talk about the trustworthy you know aspect of it and how you don't know what his politics were. I think one of the elements about him, one of the character traits about him was that you felt like you knew him. He seemed to be very transparent about things that matter but obviously when it came to politics, he knew.

This is not what you need to know about me and I don't entertain any of the conversations that I'm having my people making predisposed images in their head about who I am or what I think so when you sat down with him and please, when I ask this, I want you to remind us as well when that was - we were trying to gauge it because quite honestly you look pretty similar.

You say it was a while ago but it still looks very much like you, Michael Smerconish. But when you were sitting across from him, do you remember much about that conversation?

SMERCONISH: I don't remember the gist of the conversation other than we were talking politics. I do remember - you remember the uniqueness of his set? Do you remember the lights? You remember the lights, those colorful, the world - I mean that was just like the suspenders, that was synonymous with Larry King.

I remember early on in my relationship with CNN being in the LA studio and walking by a set that was lit for him, he wasn't there and you know like what a thrill it was just to see oh, that's you know that's where Larry King holds court every night.

I think of Larry as I think of some of the talk radio hosts that I grew up listening to as being so skilled in the art of conversation and you know back then and I guess I'm dating myself, it was all about making the phones ringing and trying to hold people's attention and being able to elicit interesting answers from guests. You know what's interesting to me and this is - this is something that I did not follow his advice and edict.


But he would often say that he didn't read the books of the guests that he would have on even though they would be best-selling authors because he wanted to put himself in the same position as members of the audience which I thought was also very unique to Larry King.

So he would - he would have somebody there who was a really special guest but it would be like a blank slate as he would approach the subject matter.

BLACKWELL: And it was obvious in these conversations Michael said he was curious that the interview might have had a few points in which he was going to make sure he hit A, B. and C but beyond that he listened often when these conversations have been, the interviewer is just waiting for the next question but Larry was listening and the follow up made sense which made these so valuable these conversations.

SMERCONISH: You know that's so insightful and something that I struggle with. We probably the three of us struggle with today is because to be a good interviewer is one part asking good questions and a large part just listening to what you're given because you can so easily fall into a trap where you've prepared and you've got you know A, B, C, D that you want to ask that guest and you're so intent on getting to B, that you missed what you've just been handed in the response to A.

He knew how to handle that. you know what else Victor? He was one of the guys that you got a feeling. He was a broadcaster and you got a feeling that when that light went off, you'd like to hang out with and that if you did, the conversation wouldn't be different across you know a plate of bagels and eggs at Nate and Al's deli in LA as it had been on CNN.

I didn't - I didn't know the man personally. I only professionally had a couple of interactions with him but I always believe that if I had spent time with them, I would have gotten the same Larry King.

BLACKWELL: Yes and that's same booth in Nate and Al's every day for breakfast with the same lifelong friends year after year after year. Michael Smerconish, thanks for getting up early with us to share some of your memories and thoughts on Larry King.

SMERCONISH: Thanks for allowing me.

BLACKWELL: Certainly.

PAUL: Yes Michael thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right we're going to take a break but we'll come back with more on the passing of a legend, Larry King.




PAUL: We are so sad to tell you of a member of CNN's family that has left us today. Larry King, you know him from Larry King Live. 25 years here at CNN, has died at the age of 87. He has suffered many health setbacks in the past but if anybody was a fighter, it was him and we have CNN Contributor and host of Entertainment Tonight with us, Nischelle Turner here. She is to be solely here at CNN.

Nischelle, it's so good to have you back with this Nischelle.

I know that you actually had some interactions with Larry King. Talk to us about that. NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes well, you know in my years

before I came to CNN to cover entertainment, I was a sports reporter and I covered the Dodgers at Fox Sports for many years and so I would see Larry all the time at the ballpark because he is arguably the most passionate and biggest Dodger fan it in the history of the game.

So I would run into him often, him and Shawn and their kids. One day I ran into him in the elevator and we just kind of started chatting and he started telling me how he was at the game back in 1947, April 15 where Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and I just thought it was so interesting.

He said he was 14 year old kid, out of school to go - to go see the game and he was there to witness history and he was very you know wistful about it and - and it was just really a great conversation and in that conversation, I kind of lost the fact that I was talking to Larry King and I just really fell into a conversation with just this really passionate baseball fan who loved the game so much in love the Dodgers so much that he went to his first game back in 1943 and it was just a really, really nice conversation.

And it was lovely and he was always very lovely to me and I remember when I came to CNN in 2011 to cover entertainment, I promptly sat down to watch as many Larry King interviews as I could because like so many have said on the air this morning, he was the interviewer that he considered himself an every man you know and he asked the question that every man at home wanted to know.

He approached every interview the same exact way and all of us in broadcasting you know we strive for that and wanted to be that and I just wanted to like soak in everything he does because I thought he was just brilliant at it and so yes, you know that - that interaction I definitely will take with me for the rest of my life especially now after getting the news that he's passed.

BLACKWELL: Yes, you talked about how he loved the Dodgers. He loved his industry and he loved his job and it came through on camera and he's talked about how as we just learned from Wolf, a few moments ago in the package about his passing is that he really just wanted to be on radio. That's all he ever wanted.


TURNER: Yes, you know I heard Michael Smerconish talking about the fact. He's a talk radio guy and he absolutely was you know when you see him every night, you can close your eyes and you felt like you were listening to talk radio.

I mean I grew up - I grew up in the Midwest, I grew up listening to talk radio giants, the - and things like that and so you love that genre. And that's - that's who he was. He loved this industry, he loved everything about it. He loved talking to people and that's I think why his interviews were so brilliant because it was like - like you guys said, like he would meet with his friend for breakfast at Nate and Al like that's what he did when he sat down across from anyone. I remember once when he was interviewing Prince and you know Prince

can be notoriously, it could - you know just you never kind of knew what you were going to get and I just loved the - it almost felt like a bit of a boxing match between the two of them and just always amazing television no matter what.

I remember watching - watching him during OJ like people were talking about and just being transfixed to his show every single night.

PAUL: Well, NischelleTurner, again a CNN contributor and host of Entertainment Tonight. Always such a pleasure to hear from you. I am sorry that we're doing it in this moment but you've really brought us such clarity and character into a man so many of us have not met personally and that is valuable to us. Thank you so much and--


PAUL: - and we're sorry that we're all feeling this loss.

TURNER: And we've lost guys, if you think about it in this span of this kind of 2020, really 21, we've lost to me, I think three of the giants that I've looked you in this industry with Regis, Alex Trebek and now Larry King.

PAUL: Very good point.

BLACKWELL: All right Nischelle, thank you. Let's bring it now KTLA Los Angeles entertainment reporter Sam Rubin. Joins us now to talk about the life of Larry King. Sam, first to you. You're an LA guy and you say you'd see Larry around all the time. Talk about the local community element beyond how the rest of us experienced it?

SAM RUBIN, KTLA LOS ANGELES REPORTER: Well, I think it was his migration of course from Brooklyn to Miami where the radio career really began and then the Beverly hills and what people may not appreciate is to a large degree Beverly hills is a small town and Larry King, you know in fact though not elected was the Mayor of Beverly hills.

So this daily breakfast at Nate and Al's and you would see him often walking from his home to have that breakfast with his buddies and people that he knew and he really held court there. He opened his own bagel shop down the street from the Nate and Al's several years ago and he was just this local fixture. The show referenced the Dodger games.

He was at the Dodger games almost every game but the fact of the matter is even though he had this global impact, even though you know he talked to everybody, he also talked to everybody, the non-famous in his home - his adopted hometown of Beverly Hills.

PAUL: So talk to us about somebody like Larry King impacts Beverly Hills itself because you talk about how it's a small town but when people have an image in Beverly Hills, I don't think that they think of Larry King. RUBIN: Yes, I think there's this distinction between sort of Rolls

Royces and fur coats and a guy often in jeans and a members only jacket like a Larry King so I think he was as surprised as anybody that that ultimately his adopted hometown became Beverly Hills but the fact the matter is Beverly Hills boasts many long-time residents, some very well-known, most not well known at all and I think Larry and this was something that made him so successful on the air, I think he felt comfortable around anybody.

You know there's a lot of very well-known people who and we'll talk about this, who are uncomfortable. They're shy and they kind of turn it on when the light goes on. There was no distinction in my experience with Larry King between being on the air and off the air. He was the exact same man either way and obviously what propeled the success is this genuine curiosity.

And he really wanted to know about people and he asked the questions and of course we would all ask, all those characteristics but you know, he didn't carry himself like a star but of course that booming voice and you know these things sort of perpetuate themselves. You know on CNN every night for a quarter of a century, on the radio for a very long time before and after that.


So you know people would be like oh, it's Larry King but as opposed to being unapproachable, he was very, very approachable and I think felt very much at home in Beverly Hills and again, you're not only seeing him at these particular restaurants, you would literally see him walking on the street.

BLACKWELL: Yes, we're watching as you're explaining video of the interviews and it goes from the Dalai Lama to the First Lady sitting in the White House to Jack Hanno with the snake. I mean it is it is remarkable, there's not an ounce of pretension in these conversations and when you come curious to these conversations, it allows the person to open up on television for that hour.

Thank you so much for sharing a few minutes with us to give us some insight and some of your memories of Larry King. We're going to take a quick break and continue with the breaking news. The death of a legend, Larry King, he's died at the age of 87. We'll be right back.



BLACKWELL: More now on the passing of Larry King. He died this morning at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles. He was 87 years old. Brian Stelter, our chief media correspondent is with us and we understand you're getting some reaction.

STELTER: Yes, including from CNN's President Jeff Zucker who's issued a statement pointing out the power that Larry King had to help put this network on the map back in the 1980s. Here is Zucker's statement saying, "We mourn the passing of our

colleague Larry King, the scrappy, young man from Brooklyn had a history making career, spanning radio and television. His curiosity about the world propelled his award-winning career broadcasting but it was his generosity of spirit that drew the world to him.

We are so proud of the 25 years he spent with CNN where his newsmaker interviews truly put the network on the international stage. From our CNN family to Larry's, we send our thoughts and prayers and a promise to carry on his curiosity for the world in our work."

I think the comment there from Zucker about the international stages is right on because in 1985 when Larry King Live debuted in prime time, CNN was still a brand new cable channel, only five years old, still being criticized and derided as chicken noodle news.

The big broadcast networks didn't want to recognize CNN for what it was and ratings were still pretty low. Larry King came along and in part thanks to Ted Turner who went and poached Larry from radio from mutual radio networks, brought him to television, thinking that an hour long conversation program was what CNN needed.

And then that is what this network needed in the mid 1980s in prime time as destination program to bring viewers in. That was a - had a big part to play in CNN eventually becoming a force in cable, a force in television and as Zucker's statement says that partly thanks to Larry's personality, his curiosity about the world.

PAUL: You know I think there is and we're going to bring Frank Sesno in as well by the way. He's the Director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, also former CNN correspondent. Frank, good to have you with us as well. I'm sorry that it's under the circumstances but we've heard from so many people just in the last 30 minutes since the news broke and there has been a theme about who Larry King was and it is that he was the same guy behind the scenes as you saw in front of them. Do you find the same?

FRANK SESNO, DIRECTOR OF THE SCHOOL OF MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Yes, I knew Larry. I was there in 1985 when we were chicken noodle news and Larry came to CNN and the reporters asked what are you doing, bringing Larry King, what's this all about?

What Larry King brought was personality, was the first piece of personality in a big way that came to CNN. He brought this incredible interview program that made people feel comfortable and so they wanted to go on so within a few years people were storming the doors. That's where candidates went to announce their presidential candidacy.

He brought authors on and Larry proudly talked about, I don't read their books. What do you mean you don't read their books? He said I don't read their books because if I read their books, I'm going to start with on page 232, you wrote and I don't want to - I don't want to ask a question like a person on the ground asks.

Why do you write the book? What did you learn from the book? I sat in for Larry several times when I was at CNN and I had the privilege and a pleasure of doing that. I also hosted him at the George Washington University for a conversation about 10 years ago and he told a hysterical story that tells you a lot about Larry.

He said he loved doing live television. It came from live radio. 90 percent of what he did he said was live because he loves dancing with the moment and he paused for a minute and said I got to tell you story. He was on the air at Mutual radio, he did the overnight shift at Mutual radio and he gets called at about 1:00 in the morning and the caller says, hi Larry and he's whispering.

And Larry says as he's explaining the story, he turns to the guy and he says why are you whispering. He says because I'm a thief and he's at someone's house and he says, why are you calling me and he says because I'm a big fan. Larry was not just a great questioner --


SESNO: -- not in the style of a Tim Russert or even me where you're trying to really push somebody, but in he was a conversationalist, he was a storyteller and that's what he did through his interviews. Even with politicians --


SESNO: -- he tried to evoke the story.

BLACKWELL: Well, Frank Sesno, Brian Stelter, again, a huge loss not just for our industry, but for our world, our country as he was the intersection of so many elements of our daily lives. Thank you so much for contributing to the conversation. Our coverage continues now of the loss of Larry King with Michael Smerconish.