The talk show host dishes to Fortune on White House intrigue.

By Anne VanderMey
May 10, 2017

After Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI chief James Comey on Tuesday, familiar allegations about the Trump camp’s ties to Russia resurfaced.

Is there truth to the rumors? One long-time Trump watcher isn’t ruling it out: During an interview a few weeks before Comey was dismissed, talk show legend Larry King told Fortune, “If it looks like a duck, and acts like a duck, and swims like a duck, it’s probably a duck.”

King spoke with Fortune in advance of the anchor’s 60th anniversary in broadcasting in May. He has known Trump for decades, “I can’t even count how many times I’ve interviewed him,” he said, adding that he wanted to be optimistic about Trump’s presidency.

King also talked about his own links to Russia. King is a co-owner of Ora Media, which licenses content to RT—formerly Russia Today—an English language media outlet backed by the Russian state. The result of the agreement is that King frequently appears on Kremlin-sponsored television. The links have prompted some to further fret about the various connections between Russia and American influencers.

King didn’t back away from his network’s licensing agreements: “I like to be seen,” he told Fortune. “I think the more I’m seen the better it is. The network, at least my part of it, never edits me.”

King said that Putin is criticized on his show “three-quarters of the time,” but that he’s never gotten blowback over it from RT producers. Some critics have singled out RT for spreading Russian anti-Western views, and argued that King’s presence lends the network undue credibility. But King has backed its content for the most part. “I think they’re a very good network, I’ve watched them, they do wonderful work,” he says. “Superior to some American networks.”

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He reserved judgment, however, on the larger question of Russia’s connection to Trump—saying that if there was misconduct, it will eventually be brought to light.

“If there’s a story this’ll break when one person comes forward, the famed whistle blower,” King said. Potentially, if “that somebody comes forward, that will blow this up.”

 

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