Why did CNN's John King agree to be interviewed by fringe right-wing Newsmax?

Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

Was it the opportunity to snag a glowing profile from a right-wing outlet?

Could it have been the chance to reach Lou Dobbs' coveted demographic of aging anti-immigrant conspiracy theorists?

It remains unclear why CNN's John King would agree to be interviewed by Newsmax -- a publication of the right-wing fringe owned by Christopher Ruddy and Richard Mellon Scaife.

Perhaps he was given some sort of clue as to how glowing the profile would end up? There isn't really a harsh word in the piece… they cover his dashingly good looks, his affection for Ailes-Hannity-O'Reilly, his purported fairness to both sides, that he worked at the AP once upon a time when it was still fair, and all of the big politicos appearing on his show. The profile's author, Ronald Kessler, even explains to his readers what it means for King to "keep kosher" since his conversion to Judaism.

The only thing that makes sense is the idea that King agreed to the interview because he knew in advance that it would be a puff-piece. Then again, maybe he didn't know Newsmax's history of right-wing incendiary misinformation. For example, back in September the publication ran a column (eventually taken down) stating that a military coup "to resolve the 'Obama problem'" was not "unrealistic." There's a lot more where that came from.

Check out the interview's gems after the break.

Kessler fawningly writes:

With King, there is no smirking at liberal views, no raising of the eyebrows when conservatives speak. When contributor Eric Erickson of RedState.com leaves out a point that might buttress his conservative arguments, King gladly supplies it.

With his salt-and-pepper hair growing ever whiter, King is a silver fox in training, a Richard Gere look-alike. As he does the "Play by Play" segment on his political show, King looks and sounds like a sportscaster.

Gesturing with his pen, he makes playbook circles in the air. The informality of his clothes — an open-collar shirt and a blue blazer — adds to the jock image.

King's personality is anything but aggressive. He's as pleasant as background music, calm and unobtrusive in a heated discussion. When his halcyon world is breached, he reveals his tension with a lip curl or eyebrows that tent into a V. But his appealing sense of humor, low-key and wry, always saves the day.


After graduating, he went full-time with AP, then an unflinchingly neutral news outlet.

He worked in the Boston, Mass., bureau before being transferred to Washington, D.C.

In 1997, Wolf Blitzer, CNN's senior political correspondent, recommended that CNN hire King. Blitzer said he was "sick and tired" of King's scooping CNN on Bill Clinton's political appointments.


As CNN's chief national correspondent, King won respect from both sides of the aisle. Dick Cheney gave him his first television interview after leaving the vice president's mansion. King also interviewed President Obama.


CNN asked King to anchor John King USA. Since the show began in March, he has hosted a range of heavy hitters. King supplements interviews with inside information he and CNN reporters glean. On most nights, one of those reporters is his wife, CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash.

Divorced and the father of two teenagers, King married Bash in May 2008. She is considered one of the top political reporters in the business.

"I sometimes get a little worried that people think she's on my show because she's my wife," King says. "In my view, she is one of the best source and political reporters in town."

King's analysis and behind-the-scenes insights produce a powerful and informative show.


When asked whether CNN could benefit by adopting some of Fox News' approaches, King says, "People sometimes look at me like I'm crazy, including people where I work sometimes, when I say I don't begrudge the business model Roger Ailes [CEO of Fox News] has developed, nor do I begrudge MSNBC their business model."

King admires the way Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly "speak with clarity." Yet, he says, "It's not where I fit. It's not how I'm trained. It's not what I want to do, and so I try to find a place where I can do reporting, story-telling journalism the way I like it."


Before marrying Bash, King converted to Judaism, her religion. At home, King and Bash keep kosher, meaning no pork or shellfish and separate sets of dishes for meat and dairy entrées.

CNN, NewsMax.com
John King, Ronald Kessler, Christopher Ruddy
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