Yes, the Charles Barkley, who has been immensely successful playing the brash goofball on TNT’s NBA coverage for the last two decades, is being targeted by CNN CEO Chris Licht for a primetime show, according to a new report from Dylan Byers of Puck News.
The report states Barkley’s primetime show would feature the Basketball Hall-of-Famer interviewing newsmakers, journalists and other topical guests about the day’s headlines. CNN spokesman Matt Dornic told Puck News, “Chris is having conversations with dozens of culturally relevant individuals from the worlds of news, sports, entertainment and comedy.”
It’s not totally crazy, considering CNN and TNT are both owned by Warner Bros. Discovery. Barkley is obviously interested in politics and even floated the idea of running for governor in his home state of Alabama years ago. Last week, after Barkley criticized Congress for worrying about classified documents in Donald Trump, Mike Pence and President Joe Biden’s possession, I somewhat facetiously predicted the Inside the NBA analyst was preparing to create a political show to help salvage CNN’s floundering ratings. One week later, it seems like Barkley might be doing just that.
Barkley is, without question, one of the most universally popular personalities on television. His opinions transcend basketball and attract interest from people on both sides of an increasingly divided and dysfunctional political climate. He’s great at television and can help CNN as they try to run from being a network known only for bashing Trump in recent years. On the contrary, he’s Charles Barkley. And putting Charles Barkley on CNN can absolutely be viewed as another example of CEO Chris Licht desperately throwing darts at the board to see if he can get something to stick.
Barkley has repeatedly stated he wants to retire at, or near the age of 60. He’s currently 59 and just signed a 10-year deal with Warner Bros. Discovery to continue talking basketball on TNT, which he has no plans on seeing through. He flirted with LIV Golf and is now doing the same with CNN. It’s a partnership with potential, but also an unusual match that doesn’t appear to offer much long-term stability.
His status on Inside the NBA would be uninterrupted by a primetime show with CNN. Joining CNN also wouldn’t interfere with Barkley’s basketball prep, because he admittedly doesn’t prepare for Inside the NBA and is largely unaware of the players he’s analyzing outside of the league’s stars. It will be interesting to see if he brings that same methodology of TV prep when it comes to talking news and politics on CNN. Although, if it doesn’t require much prep to be a politician, it shouldn’t require much prep to talk about politicians either.