Larry King himself, another master and proponent of cherry picking:
Question from Shooby: Larry, it’s been said you don’t really interview, you just "have tea" with your guest. How do you respond to this type of criticism?
http://edition.cnn.com/chat/transcripts ... index.html
Larry King: I don't agree with that at all. It is not a conversation, it's an interview. I don't make statements, I don't give my opinion and I don't use the word "I." Everything I say is a question -- usually short, right on the point, and, most importantly, I listen. I am not there to embarrass, nor am I there to hold the guest on a pedestal. I am there to learn. Through me, the audience will learn.
Question from What: Have you learned a lot from working at CNN?
Larry King: I learn every day. Someone once said, "I never learned anything when I was talking." Boy, is that true. So, every night I get to have the experience of meeting interesting people, newsmakers, movers and shakers, wannabes, failures and successes, and I'm kind of a witness to history.
Question from Suzie: Larry, have you ever been at a loss for words?
Larry King: Go back to the Robert Mitchum answer. Usually I'm not, because I'm so intensely curious. By the way, I don't take any credit for that attribute. I was born with it. I remember as a child, asking bus drivers why they wanted to drive a bus, asking policemen why they wanted to be cops. I was always interested in the whys. It's hard to run out of things to ask, especially if you begin most questions with the word "why."
By the way, this is a good tip for anybody in our chat room. If you ask a question that begins with the word "why," it can't be answered in one word.
COOPER: Your interviewing style is different than so many other people, and I was asking around to a couple of people who had been on your show about what it is that makes it work so well. And they said that you make guests comfortable, to the point where they feel they can say anything, ... therefore [they] will say to you what they haven't said before, and wouldn't say anywhere else.
http://edition.cnn.com/2007/US/03/23/la ... index.html
KING: I do know this, I know I'm intensely curious ... and I make good eye contact, I listen to the answers, I ask short questions. If you ask a question over two sentences to me, you're showing off. No question should have to take more than two sentences. If you turn on the camera on "Larry King Live," the guest should be on, nine out of 10 times. If I'm on nine out of 10 times, the show is about me. So I never thought the show was about me.
My role is not to make a guest uncomfortable. I know some people like to make a guest uncomfortable. I don't. I'm uncomfortable if I make them uncomfortable, and I, at least in my sense, you don't learn a lot if you're confrontational. So I learned a long time ago that the best way to be is really curious, and people like responding to someone who they know is. Like Sinatra said to me once, "I know you care about my answer, therefore I'm going to answer it because I know you care." I do care. And that's true to this day. Whether it was Anna Nicole Smith or Frank Sinatra or band leaders or presidents, I care about their answer, and then I hope through me it goes to the audience. I'm a conduit. I think that's my role. I'm a conduit.
I was struck by his answer to the question: “You are a master of keeping conversations going? How do you do that?”
https://budbilanich.com/larry-kings-adv ... ersations/
Mr. King’s answer was elegant in its simplicity. “I’m a who, what, where, when guy. I ask short questions. I get to the point. The person I am interviewing knows that I am interested in what he or she has to say. They know I’m listening to their answer. I have a pace that is natural.”
When Forbes asked Larry King “What are your three favorite interviewing techniques?”, he offered this advice:
https://medium.com/@speakerhubHQ/what-c ... 719a56eeae
1. Leave yourself at the door. Leave your ego at the door.
2. Listen to the answer because the answer can often give you the next question.
3. Remember, it is your baby. You’re controlling the interview, not the guest. The guest should be the star, and you should learn a lot about the guest, but you are always in control.
https://www.cjr.org/special_report/larr ... g-tips.php
Jesse: Well, that’s what I was going to say. I mean I think one of the things about your interview style that’s special is that you’re a very modest interviewer. Like you are not afraid to ask a simple question, a “what is this” question.
Larry: They’re the best. Because when you think—I watch some of these press conferences, and the question takes longer than the answer. And the people show off. There was no showing off. [The] New Yorker did a piece on me, called it “Street Questions.” I’m a guy in the street. Hey! What are you doin’?
So, when the Gulf War was on, and we would have guests on every night associated with the war: writers, politicians, generals. And I always asked the same question: What happened today? I wasn’t there. You were there. You were covering it. What happened? That’s the simplest question in the world. Why’d you do this? What happened? I don’t know more law than a lawyer. I don’t know more politics than a politician. I don’t, I have opinions. But I’ve never run for office. I’ve never argued a case in front of a jury. I don’t know more medicine than a doctor, I’ve never operated. I’ve never done science. I ask questions of scientists. I’m a layman. I’m a pure layman who’s intensely curious. What I do have is a sense of pace. I know when something’s going well, I know how to draw people out. But I don’t think I could teach a course in it. I don’t know that I have a method. I just know that I go to the basics.
And from the basics, you learn a lot, and you can bring people. One of the best examples I can give is my first interview with Frank Sinatra, who didn’t do a lot of interviews. Jackie Gleason got him for me. And his PR guy said to me, “Frank doesn’t do these things. He’s doing it as a favor to Jackie Gleason. But one thing: do not bring up the kidnapping of his son. He doesn’t want to talk about it, he will not talk about it.” I thought, that’s fair, I don’t have to bring it up, OK.
In the middle of the interview, we’re really in touch. And I asked him, “The thing with you and the press—is it overdone, or have you been bum rapped?” He says, “Well, it might have been overdone. But I’ve been bum rapped. Take my son’s kidnapping.” He brought it up. I just was asking good questions. And that’s the framework of which I like to work. I don’t have to know a great deal about [it]. In fact, my favorite guests are people I don’t know at all. I like doing physicists; I know nothing about physics. I like doing astronomers, because I don’t know about the heavens, but I wonder about them. What is an astronomer when he walks down the street and looks up? What does he think about?
LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN
Jesse: Are you always listening for that little something that stands out? That little interesting bit that you can pull on a little?
Larry: Yeah. Because the key of interviewing is listening. If you don’t listen, you’re not a good interviewer. I hate interviewers who come with a long list of prepared questions. Uh, because they’re going to depend on going from the fourth question to the fifth question without listening to the answer of the fourth question. Because they’re concentrating on what they’re going to ask for the fifth. And that’s not the way it works for me. So I concentrate solely on the answer, and I trust my instincts to come up with questions. Even if the answerer fully answered the question, I’m ready in my head to go somewhere with it. There’s no dead air.