CNN's John King Reveals His MS Diagnosis on Live TV

John King, CNN's chief national correspondent and anchor of 'Inside Politics,' revealed he has had multiple sclerosis since the Clinton administration. Today he still works and tries to stay active for as long as he can. Those with MS often need long-term health care.

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CNN's John King Reveals His MS Diagnosis on Live TV
4 Min Read October 20th, 2021 Updated:September 9th, 2023

CNN's chief national correspondent, John King, anchor of CNN's Inside Politics, revealed in October 2021 on his show that he has multiple sclerosis. MS is an autoimmune disorder that affects the central nervous system. 

It is a secret I have kept for a long time except for a very few people. 

The then 58-year-old King decided to tell the world about his health condition due to the debate on the COVID-19 vaccine. He said that he is taking extra safety precautions himself during the pandemic.

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, King has relapsing-remitting MS, the most common disease course. His medication attempts to slow the progression of the disease.

While he says he considers himself "lucky," he still has days where the MS is "very frustrating." He says he is lucky and blessed but is concerned for others less fortunate than he has been.

Mine has progressed very slowly due to great medications, thanks to great doctors, but others are not so lucky.

The revelation came out on his CNN show during a conversation about former Secretary of State Colin Powell and his passing due to existing health issues and COVID-19. Although Powell was vaccinated, he still contracted COVID-19 due to his age and history of multiple myeloma, a cancer of white blood cells that harms the body's immune system. King has since discussed his MS on other programs on CNN and other networks.

King used his health history to show the importance of wearing a mask and being vaccinated.

King told ABC's "Good Morning America" that he has had problems since the days of the Clinton administration, and he was formally diagnosed several years later.

Today I'm having a problem with my hands. I have not been able to really have full sensation in my legs since late in the Clinton administration. There are some days this knocks me on my you know what, there are other days it's just a little nagging.

King Experiences Falls and Even Brain Fog Due to MS

He has had occasional falls and even brain fog, among other symptoms. This week leading up to the election was one of his worst weeks and he had problems functioning.

I hope nobody noticed it, but election week in America was probably one of my worst weeks last year.

Since his diagnosis, King has been open about living with MS, discussing his experience during interviews and on social media. He has also become an advocate for those living with the condition, spreading awareness about the importance of early diagnosis and treatment. 

Keeping Active

He stepped down as the anchor of Inside Politics in June 2023, but is still a regular contributor to the show. He has also been working on a new project for CNN focused on voters in battleground states during the 2024 presidential election. King has not made any public statements about his health since 2021, but he has continued to work and travel without any apparent problems. He has also been active on social media, where he has shared updates about his work and travels.

King believes staying physically active is key to managing his MS. He does workouts like pushups and squats daily and yoga for balance and flexibility. He also follows a diet rich in healthy fats, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. John King also recommends getting plenty of restful sleep every night to help manage the symptoms of MS. 

To ensure he gets enough restful sleep each night, he goes to bed at the same time every night and takes breaks throughout the day to relax and unwind. 

King emphasizes the importance of staying positive when managing MS. He believes having a positive attitude has helped him stay motivated and inspired him to lead a healthy life despite his diagnosis. 

Over One Million People in U.S. with MS – More Diagnosed Every Year

King is not the only one with MS. There are over 200,000 new diagnoses of MS every year. MS is a disease affecting the central nervous system. The immune system attacks the myelin, the protective layer around nerve fibers, and causes inflammation and lesions. MS makes it harder for the brain to send signals to the body.

The disease affects more women than men and generally is first diagnosed in adults ages 18 to 55. MS is often disabling, requiring the individual to need help with daily living activities. The required care catches many families off guard since health insurance does not cover the necessary custodial care that a person with MS might require as the condition progresses. Younger people often do not own Long-Term Care Insurance, so self-funding care or families step in to provide the necessary help. Those in their 50s are more likely to have an LTC policy and can receive benefits from their policy.

MS is unpredictable. The specific symptoms, progress, and severity vary among people with MS. Doctors cannot guess how a person will progress with the disease.  

MS and Dementia

While brain fog can be common for people with MS, dementia can also become a possibility. MS can cause a type of dementia known as "corticobasal degeneration" (CBD). This type of dementia is caused by damage in the frontal and parietal lobes of the brain, which results in symptoms like slow cognitive processing speed, difficulty with decision-making, poor judgment and impulse control, language deficits, and apathy or depression. 

John King joins a list of other celebrities who have lived with MS. Comedian Richard Pryor received an MS diagnosis in 1986. Walter Williams, a founding member of the music group The O'Jays, has been living with MS since 1983. Country music star Clay Walker, actress Selma Blair, actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler, talk show Montel Williams, and Ann Romney (Senator Mitt Romney's spouse) all have MS.

MS Treatment

Medications are available to treat MS, focusing on controlling the immune system and managing symptoms. Plus, physical therapy can help with walking difficulties and muscle stiffness, occupational therapy for tremors, and a cooling vest for heat sensitivity.

Long-term health care for those with more progressed MS is often paid through Medicaid when a person has little or no assets or no Long-Term Care Insurance policy in place. Health insurance and Medicare pay little or nothing toward long-term extended care.

Long-Term Care Insurance is rarely available for purchase after an MS diagnosis. Always check with a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist, as some products may be available in some situations with short-term cash indemnity products or asset-based products.

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About the Author

Linda Kople is a freelance writer with a personal family history in long-term care. She specializes in aging-related topics such as caregiving, health, and retirement planning. Her experiences and interests drive her to explore and write about the various aspects of aging and health issues.

LTC News Contributor Linda Kople

Linda Kople

Contributor since October 31st, 2017

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