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An evening with John King

Admit it. The first thing you think of when someone mentions CNN reporter John King is that wonderful board. You know, the election map board, with more voter statistics than a polling house.

Last evening, the manipulator of “the board” spoke at a Cleveland Jewish News event honoring the paper’s retiring editor, its CEO and a longtime employee. King was both gracious and entertaining, insightful and provocative. And funny.

Several times during the evening he joked about his personal life. He mentioned his love for his wife, CNN reporter Dana Bash. And he spoke of his spiritual journey and decision to convert to Judaism, Bash’s religion. He appeared to be a man at peace with himself.

But enough of the observations. Some of King’s key points:

—Newspapers are the foundation of a news media world that is struggling. Yet he remains confident that the public’s thirst for information, combined with the innovative skills of many journalists, will prevail and lead to new business and editorial models that will be successful.

—Ohio continues to be a political bellwether. King comes to the Buckeye state often and predicted Republicans and Democrats across the country will monitor the next statewide election for hints as to the national sentiment on President Obama’s agenda. While he was in Cleveland, King reported this story on the Cleveland Clinic and health care reform. 

—The friendship between Israel and the United States remains strong, but it is changed from that under George W. Bush. It is not quite as intimate. He also predicted Israel could make an accommodation soon on the issue of West Bank settlements.

—President Obama is confident of his popularity, but like all smart politicians, he continues to probe public sentiment. Yet to be determined if his election was a true mandate for change or a repudiation of the previous administration.

As for his work on the elections map, he more than once joked about “the idiot with the board.”

I respected King’s work before I had the opportunity to meet him last night. I came away with renewed admiration for his insights and observations.

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