King received a Lifetime Achievement Award on Sunday at The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York from editor in chief Yaakov Katz, before taking part in a wide-ranging interview on his life and work.
“I never saw anything anti-one side on CNN,” he told the crowd, to some laughter and boos. “I thought we were always fair… I only experienced people trying to be fair and objective.”
King, a veteran journalist and broadcaster, hosted the acclaimed Larry King Live show on CNN for more than 25 years. Today, at a sprightly 83, King hosts shows on Hulu and RT America.
With his signature wit and trademark suspenders – he took off his jacket to show them off and “prove it’s me” – King described some of the powerful interviews he conducted over his career.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he said, drove him to the airport on his first trip to Israel. Security guards protecting Menachem Begin, King recounted, almost shot him when he arrived late to an event and was outside the building when nobody was supposed to be.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to King, said his favorite city to vacation in when he was a KGB agent was Jerusalem.
But King told Katz that there was only one interview in his career where he lost his cool: then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“Ahmadinejad said to me: ‘If there was a Holocaust, why wasn’t the State of Israel put in Poland or Germany,”” King recalled. “And I said, hold it, did you say ‘if there was a Holocaust?’ It was the only time I’ve ever interviewed someone and I lost my composure.”
And what of the interviews that never were?
King said he would have wanted to interview Osama Bin-Laden, to understand his motivation. And if he were to speak to God – who King doesn’t think exists? “My first question to God would be – ‘Did you have a son?'”
A woman from the crowd – which alternately booed and cheered King throughout the 15-minute interview – asked King if he would have interviewed Adolf Hitler.
“I would have asked Hitler,” King said, “Why didn’t you stay being a painter?” He noted that in any interview he conducted, “I try to learn what makes people tick, what makes people act the way they act.”
And he has one good friend who he doesn’t quite understand: US President Donald Trump.
“I’ve known Donald for 35 years, he’s always been very nice to me,” King said. But he said he couldn’t vote for him, because “he’s unpredictable. And while that can be good, it can be bad, because I don’t think Donald Trump has a true political philosophy.”
Asked by Katz to give any words of advice for the Jewish State, King, who said he “bleeds Jewish,” said he had a few suggestions.
“Stay firm, stay strong. Negotiate. Peace is better than war,” he said. “Try to get together, try hard to work with your adversaries. Try to work with people whose opinions are not the same as yours.”