By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
Don't expect political ranting or an edgy agenda from John King when he officially takes over the 7 p.m. anchor chair from Lou Dobbs at CNN early next year. "I hope to have a show that takes time to look at the big picture with newsmakers that are driving the debate," King says. "I want to have fun and lively, provocative analysis and discussion that invites everyone in. I want to be the anchor that is playing broker and traffic cop, not a guy with an agenda."
King says that he has a very good relationship with and respected Dobbs, who recently took an $8 million buyout to end his show, where he liked to whip up political frenzies on issues like immigration reform and free trade. "I don't want to look in the rearview mirror," says King. "I had no role in those decisions. He is not a shrinking violet, and his approach is different than mine." He adds: "Did he go beyond the lines of objectivity? I'll let someone else decide that."
King, the longtime Washington correspondent for CNN, will continue hosting his Sunday State of the Union show until moving to the weeknight schedule next year.
He says he doesn't come to work to argue. "I come to work to learn." One word to sum up the new show? "Relevant," he says. "Right now we live in—it's almost cliché—consequential times, and the way of life is changing."
Besides relevant, look for King to be topical, which means he'll be on the Sarah Palin beat. "It's a great drama to follow," he says. And if Sarah Palin wants to have coffee on his show? "I'll buy the coffee."
Being anchored to the news desk ought to be good for the home life for King, who married CNN reporter Dana Bash in May 2008. But, he says, "I'm going to make sure there is no superglue on the seat."
Illustration by Ed Wexler for USN&WR.