Network Morning Shows Unanimously Gush Over Larry King

The morning programs of the Big Three networks all sang the praises of CNN host Larry King after he announced on Tuesday his upcoming retirement from his program, while overlooking his liberal bent at times. Both Willie Geist on NBC's Today show and CBS's Harry Smith labeled King "legendary," while ABC's George Stephanopoulos heralded how he was "on top of his game" for most of his career.

NBC correspondent Peter Alexander reused Geist's "legendary" label, and chronicled the CNN personality's "perch in prime time" during his 25 years on his Larry King Live program, spotlighting how he "has interviewed nearly 50,000 people over more than 50 years in broadcasting." Alexander underlined this with clips from King's interviews of Frank Sinatra, Ross Perot, and Paris Hilton, noting that "if you wanted the country to listen, you sat down with Larry King." The correspondent also included a clip from Ken Baker of E! News, who stated that "whoever is going to replace Larry King has obviously very big shoes to fill."

CBS's Smith used the "legendary" term in the top-of-the-hour tease at 7 am Eastern. Twenty minutes later, during a segment with substitute anchor Erica Hill, he described King's 1985 premiere on CNN as a "grand experiment" and concluded that "twenty-five years later, it seemed to work out all right." The two labeled him a "very interesting" and "good" guy. At the bottom of the hour, correspondent Jim Axelrod did a similar chronicle of the CNN host's career to Alexander's on NBC, choosing instead President Obama, Carrie Prejean, and Lady Gaga as the notables to highlight. His concluding line echoed Ken Baker's line on NBC: "Whoever gets the job, they won't be easy suspenders to fill."

Smith then brought on The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz to discuss the host's impending retirement, who, as Tim Graham noted earlier on Wednesday, speculated whether a "variety show" like King's, where "you talk to a president one day and Lady Gaga the next," could survive in an "increasingly partisan cable television universe."

ABC's Stephanopoulos proclaimed the host "the undisputed king of late night talk" on Good Morning America and stated that "no one had a longer run and King was on top of his game for most of it." After correspondent Dan Harris's report on the CNN personality's career, Harris, Stephanopoulos, and substitute anchor Elizabeth Vargas speculated on who would replace King. The former Clinton operative endorsed a liberal colleague of his at CBS: "Katie Couric's my pick. But, I guess she doesn't want it."

The three morning programs did all mention how King's past few years were "rocky," as Stephanopoulos put it, between a decline in ratings and the reports of a possible divorce with his seventh wife. But they all omitted his occasional shots at conservatives, as MRC's Notables Quotables chronicled over the years.

-Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.