Veteran broadcaster Larry King is in the nation’s capital for a fancy fete on Wednesday to honor his long career — 58 years and counting — and review the parade of people he has interviewed over the decades. Indeed, Mr. King, 81, has sat opposite some 50,000 luminaries, including seven presidents, politicians, actors, athletes, media mavens, the famous and the infamous. Yes, he still wears his signature suspenders and remains intent, cheerful and forthright even as sirens and hubbub erupt on the streets below his hotel during a midmorning interview.
“I am a regular guy who walked with kings — and got to ask them things,” he tells Inside the Beltway, noting that his modus operandi has not changed much since his first radio broadcast in 1957. He still keeps it all simple, unlike emerging breeds of eager interviewers who won’t let their famous subjects get a word in edgewise. Mr. King says his questions are limited to one or two sentences, and the focus remains on the guests.
“They know I am sincere, they know I am listening,” Mr. King explains. “Listening is as important as asking in this business. And I am intensely listening. I have never learned anything when I was the one talking. You watch an interview, and you should see the guest 97 percent of the time. But turn on any of the cable channel interviewers and see how much you see of the guest — and how much you see of the host. For an interviewer, the pronoun ‘I’ is irrelevant.”
He’s not entirely thrilled with the field of 2016 presidential hopefuls, meanwhile, though Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jeb Bush have some residual cachet, he says.
“Who’s a riveting figure? There are no riveting figures. Hillary and Jeb are the logical favorites — one a little left of center, one a little right of center. But as Barbara Bush once said, I too am getting tired of Bush versus Clinton,” Mr. King notes. “They are the two best qualified to serve, and the country would not lose if either one was elected. What I fear is someone wildly on the left or wildly on the right.”
‘DID I DO SOMETHING WRONG?’
Though she still warrants a 53 percent favorability rating, Americans are beginning to look askance at Hillary Clinton‘s private email system during her time as secretary of state. So says a new CNN poll that found 51 percent of the respondents say the email issue is “serious.” There are partisan frills, of course: Seventy-five percent of Republicans and 31 percent of Democrats agree. Another 51 percent overall believe she “did do something wrong,” compared to 74 percent of the GOP-ers and 27 percent of Dems. But it’s complicated.
“Unfavorable views of Hillary Clinton are on the rise and perceptions of her as honest and trustworthy have dropped,” writes Jennifer Agiesta, CNN’s polling director. “But questions about Clinton’s email practices may not harm her chances if she makes a run for the White House in 2016, as the poll finds 57 percent of Americans say she’s someone they’d be proud to have as their president.”
Eighteen percent of Republicans and 89 percent of Democrats agree, incidentally.
AND IN SUMMATION
“This new House budget, to be followed by a similar Senate budget this week, shows the passing of the Age of Obama and the broad gulf of difference between today’s conservative Republicans and the modern, ultraleft, extremist, neosocialist Democrats. Reagan-like, the plan would balance the budget without tax increases while modernizing our increasingly, dangerously lagging military.”
— Peter Ferrara, senior fellow for budget policy at the Heartland Institute. The 2016 budget introduced Tuesday by Rep. Tom Price, chairman of the House Budget Committee, would repeal the Affordable Care Act, block-grant Medicaid to the states, partially privatize Medicare and cut $5.5 trillion in projected spending.
AN ASTROBIOLOGICAL MOMENT
Space, the final frontier for academia? On Wednesday, the Library of Congress will focus on revelations in astrobiology. This is a multidisciplinary field that asks, “How does life begin and evolve? Is there life beyond Earth and, if so, how can we detect it? What is the future of life on Earth and in the universe?” according to a NASA description. The event convenes “seven leading scholars from the humanities and the sciences for a series of conversations on the impact of recent scientific discoveries on religious beliefs about the origins and future of life. Scholars with expertise in a range of religious traditions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism, will participate, in addition to a planetary scientist and a planetary biologist.”
Among the schools represented: Dartmouth College, plus Boston, Cornell, Notre Dame, Michigan and George Washington. Two more “dialogues” are planned in May and August.
“As I speak, government computer systems are being hacked, proprietary data is being stolen from American companies, and the computers of private citizens are being compromised. And most of it is being done with impunity. Criminals, hacktivists, terrorists and nation-states have managed to exploit our networks by staying at the cutting edge of technology.
In the meantime, our defenses have lagged behind,” Rep. Michael T. McCaul told an audience at the Center for Strategic & International Studies on Tuesday.
“The digital frontier is still very much like the Wild West. At this moment there are far more cyberoutlaws than convicted cybercriminals — a clear sign that we have a lot of catching up to do. We are really in uncharted territory. Not since the dawn of the nuclear era have we witnessed such a leap in technology without a clear strategy for managing it,” advised Mr. McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
The Texas Republican points out that private sector companies are reluctant to reveal cyberintrusions in their networks, fearing it could expose customer privacy “or even violate federal law and the duty they have to their shareholders.” On its way, Mr. McCaul says: a draft bill to give liability protections for “the voluntary exchange of cyberthreat information.”
ON THE RADAR
Coming Friday, it’s “The Ronald Reagan Symposium,” featuring, among others, Fox News contributor KT McFarland addressing “Democracy in Retreat: What Would Reagan do?”; speechwriter Aram Bakshian Jr. on “Ronald Reagan: Happy Cold Warrior”; and historian Craig Shirley examining “Ronald Reagan, the Projection of Power, Anti-Communism and American Politics in the 1980s.” The event will be staged in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Mr. Shirley reminds Americans that, in 1982, Reagan told the British Parliament, “Around the world today, a democratic revolution is gathering new strength, arguing that authoritarian regimes were causing an uprising of intellect and will against injustice and tyranny.”
“He challenged the West,” Mr. Shirley continues, adding another pertinent Reagan quote: “If the rest of this century is to witness the gradual growth of freedom we must take actions to assist the campaign for democracy.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 89 percent of Americans purchase prescription drugs.
• 81 percent would prefer to use generic rather than brand name drugs.
• 50 percent say the highest they would pay out-of-pocket for a generic drug is $10.
• 32 percent purchase prescription drugs at a chain drugstore; 13 percent go to a discount pharmacy like Wal-Mart.
• 12 percent prefer an independent pharmacy; 11 percent buy online or by mail order.
• 10 percent prefer a supermarket pharmacy; 5 percent prefer a medical center pharmacy.
Source: A Harris Poll of 2,255 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 12-17, 2014, and released Tuesday.
• Droll asides, drivel to jharper@Washingtontimes.com. Follow her @HarperBulletin on Twitter.