In discussing the impact social media has had on the news media, Larry King paused and asked, “How would Edward R. Murrow do today? Or Walter Cronkite?”
You mean, @broadcaster_ERM? Or @ThatsTheWayItIs?
Those might be the names of the Twitter accounts managed by Murrow and Cronkite if they lived and worked in today’s nonstop, symbiotic world of social media, where the stream of information is ceaseless and distributed by anybody.
King, whose radio and TV broadcast career spans more than 50 years, steps away from CNN’s Larry King Live on Dec. 16 in favor of Piers Morgan. He turns 77 on Friday and is nostalgic about the way he’s absorbed his news. He’s not at all sentimental about such social media vehicles as Twitter and Facebook, which should not be a surprise considering he began his radio career in Florida in 1957.
“I love newspapers,” he said before Thursday night’s “Rock for the Cure” charity dinner and auction at Aria, which King emceed. The event is the annual benefit for Nevada Cancer Institute. “I like the feel of print. I like talking on the phone (cradling an imaginary receiver for emphasis). I don’t text.”
King does have a Twitter account, @kingsthings, with nearly 1.8 million followers. Huge. But he’s not too interested in that particular account.
“My producers do it,” he said. My wife (Shawn, who manages @shawnieora) is a Twitter freak. She’s sick. But I understand it. I think the movie (The Social Network) about Facebook was great. “
King said the progression of social media outlets is to be expected and is an inevitable advancement of society’s technologies and industries.
“It’s like owning a grocery store when AM/PM started. Or having a horse and buggy when cars came out,” he said. “You can’t do anything about it. It’s so spread out, and I’m not sure if the journalism is better. There’s more of it, and everybody’s a journalist now. But it forges more rumors, more heresy, and everybody’s a blogger.”
King then just shrugged his shoulders.
“You can’t fight it,” he said. “Don’t bother trying, either.”
More from the event:
• Saying, “I’m just really lucky to be able to play music and get paid for it and make people happy, and so now I get to pay back,” Sammy Hagar donated his time and $75,000 from his foundation to NVCI. His sister is a survivor of breast cancer, and he lost his longtime manager, Ed Leffler, to the disease nearly 20 years ago (Leffler was 57 when he died). “Ed was one of my dearest friends in the world, my manager through my whole career through the time I was in Van Halen,” Hagar recalled. “I’ve just seen (cancer) all around me. It’s not been a big deal in my immediate family, but it is so damn everywhere. Everybody you talk to, all of them have been touched by it.” Hagar performed at the end of the night, knocking out “There’s Only One Way to Rock” and “I Can’t Drive 55,” among other hits, for an audience that, frankly, seemed transfixed by the veteran rocker.
• Cirque du Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberte, who was not present, donated $1 million to join the list of NVCI Founders, those who have donated $1 million to $5 million to the organization.
• Say this for King, he’s going to churn out the prepared material regardless of the audience. Early in the program, he asked, “Can someone please explain Sharron Angle to me? She’s opening a new institute, one that shows how to change Asian people into Latinos.” A clear reference to Angle’s campaign ad depicting menacing-looking Latino and Hispanic subjects, and her subsequent claim that they did not look Latino or Hispanic, and may have been Asian. Regardless, there were quite a few Angle supporters in the audience because a lot of them applauded when King asked, “Are there any Angle supporters out there?”
• New Mirage President Felix Rappaport was among many resort execs on hand. With The Mirage the focus of a recent multimillion-dollar makeover, and with the hotel already home to two successful shows (Love and Terry Fator), there might not seem a lot for Rappaport to do other than direct traffic. Not so. MGM Resorts hotels are loaded with five-star restaurants — except The Mirage. So look for the balance of Rappaport’s energy to be channeled in that direction.
• Eva Longoria Parker was the honorary event chairwoman, a position that typically requires the honoree to speak on behalf of the organization. Parker said a few words from the podium, and she raised $50,000 by wishing Blake Sartini’s son Lorenzo a Happy Birthday and giving him a kiss (to itemize, that’s 25K for each act, donated by the elder Sartini). Longoria Parker did answer questions on the red carpet at the opening of Beso, her nightclub/restaurant at Crystals, in December. She was a fun interview, too.
• More than 800 guests attended, and the event raised nearly $2 million, bringing the 9-year total to more than $20 million.
• The Hagar set was fun, but almost as entertaining was watching diners try to figure out what was and was not edible in the dessert prepared by Aria star Chef Jean-Philippe Maury. The menu described the dessert duo as passion mangoes with coconut mousse and exotic cream served alongside a milk chocolate dipped, crispy peanut butter ice cream bar and salted caramel. But also on the plate was a purple-brown spheroid, about the size of a pallino from a set of bocce balls. Guests took after what did appear to be a giant jawbreaker, jabbing at it with knives and forks until realizing it was made of some solid substance -- maybe ceramic. As Longoria Parker said, “What a great dessert! But I broke a tooth trying to eat it!”
Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.