Despite repeatedly stating he wants to work less, Charles Barkley admits he might be adding a weekly primetime show on CNN.
Last month, Puck News reported CNN CEO Chris Licht was targeting Barkley for a primetime show. Barkley signed a long-term deal with Warner Bros. Discovery last year, which owns TNT and CNN. After Variety reported CNN was closing in on a deal with Barkley earlier this week, the Basketball Hall of Famer expanded on those rumors Tuesday during an interview with Dan Bickley and Vince Marotta on 98.7 Arizona Sports radio.
According to Barkley, “CNN is struggling” and approached him about the possible show. “It would only be one day a week if I decide to do it,” Barkley told Bickley and Marotta. “I said, ‘no, I don’t want to be on TV more, I want to be on TV less!’”
Once CNN suggested pairing him with Gayle King, who Barkley knows through their mutual friendship with Oprah Winfrey, the Inside the NBA host became interested. But he remained curious about King’s willingness to take on another job.
“Gayle’s got a real job,” Barkley continued. “She’s on every morning. I said, ‘What makes you all think she wants to do more?’ The new guy who took over at CNN was Gayle’s old boss over at CBS (Licht), so me and Gayle got together at the NBA All-Star Game.”
King co-hosts CBS Mornings full-time, and would continue that job even if she partners with Barkley for a show on CNN. According to Barkley, he and King mutually agreed they don’t want to be on TV more than they already are, but they’re willing to do it if it means hosting a show together. If Barkley and King reach a deal with CNN, it will be for a weekly show beginning this fall.
“We’re gonna spend some time together over the summer talking about it, but there’s nothing imminent,” Barkley said, noting their show will be based on the day’s current headlines, using gun control as an example if they were hosting it tonight.
Under Licht’s watch, which began last May, CNN has failed to repair its hemorrhaging ratings. Licht accepted the seemingly impossible task of reviving the network while attempting to focus on bipartisan news instead of 24/7 Donald Trump coverage.
If Barkley does add the looming primetime gig with King, he hopes to be a breath of fresh air from the “clowns on Fox News and some of the “fools” on CNN.
“When you’re on television, you have to be fair and honest because people believe stuff you say,” Barkley said. “One thing I’m proud of, I never got on television and just said something to get ratings. That don’t mean I’m right all the time, but I always try to say what’s fair and, in my heart, because people believe it.”