by Audrey Jaquiss, Staff Writer

Photo by Audrey Jaquiss

For someone who has been in 45 states in five weeks, John King did not look a bit tired. He was polished and alert and managed to fill the lecture hall with listeners.

At the Clinton School of Public Service, King, the man who is to take over Lou Dobbs’s timeslot on CNN early next year, came to Little Rock to give a lecture on Nov. 17. The Clinton School’s Dean, Skip Rutherford, introduced him and once King took the microphone, he drove straight into current politics.

He began his lecture with a striking statement.

“I think we live in the most consequential time I’ve ever seen,” King said, listing the hurting economy, health care debate, current wars, climate change and other major news stories.

King spoke a lot about the changes of modern-day journalism as well. He sees a huge change in the business, especially with the dramatic increase in technological advances. To him, the most important thing is to embrace the changing world, not to shy away.

King said the business has to learn how to deal with uncontrolled Internet tools like blogs and twitter.

His main stand on journalism is objectivity. King said he will continue to give only facts and information in his new job, not giving his opinion in any way. To him, his job is to provide news, and others like Keith Olbermann of MSNBC are here to merely entertain, not inform.

King then shared with the crowd an argument the he had with the Clinton students. The students believe shows like The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart were news providers. King disagrees, however, and maintains that they don’t offer straightforward news. He prefers to give both sides, and give the audience a chance to change their minds.

When asked by the crowd about his thoughts on what was going to happen in the future, he gave many possible outcomes but always concluded with the notion that we will never know, and it is impossible to find out. The future cannot be predicted, but it made for a fun debate.

Someone in the crowd asked about the political prospects of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.

“If I could have coffee with Sarah and Hillary, I would pay for it,” King said.

Rutherford was quick to respond.

“Somebody twitter that,” Rutherford joked.

King was cautious in his speech to completely informative and neutral. When talking about Palin, he avoided any negative commentary. He warned not to put her in the “never gonna happen category,” and said that her media status was “remarkable.”

King also discussed whether Barack Obama was likely to be elected for president again in 2012, or if it would be a repeat of 1994 when the Republicans swept over the Democrats’ initial momentum to defeat them in the election. He said “the seeds of 1994” are here today, but it is impossible to know, as literally anything can happen.

A crowd member then asked what political figure was the hardest to interview.

As usual, King did not give a straightforward answer. He said that it depended on the moment in time. He joked and said Bill Clinton would be a hard one around his impeachment. According to King, Clinton was “not a happy camper.”

He talked a bit about new his show and promised to try to find a balance on what should be covered and what the public wants to be covered. Most importantly, he stressed that he wants to gain his viewers’ trust, with purely factual and impartial news.

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