How brash Brit Piers got lost in translation in American heartland
Published 25/02/2014 | 02:30
Everyone knew his daily chat show on CNN wasn't working. You would be hard pressed even to argue that he has had a good run.
Tellingly, Piers Morgan (48) who replaced the iconic Larry King just over three years ago in the same slot, isn't pretending otherwise.
Revealing late on Sunday to the 'New York Times' media writer David Carr that his programme 'Piers Morgan Live' would shut down, probably some time in March, he commented candidly: "It's been a painful period and lately we have taken a bath in the ratings."
The question is why.
In Morgan, CNN had found a news man who after hosting various talent shows also entirely got the more tabloid side of broadcasting.
Arguably, Morgan did himself in over a year ago using his show relentlessly to hammer the supporters of gun rights in America, particularly the National Rifle Association (NRA), in the wake of the Newtown school massacre in Connecticut that killed 27 people, including 20 small children. On one occasion he called the head of Gun Owners of America, Larry Pratt, "dangerous", "stupid" and an "idiot".
His brashness on the topic provoked sufficient anger that a petition was sent to the White House, signed by 109,000 people, demanding that he be shipped back to London as punishment for attacking the Second Amendment to the Constitution. It was sufficient to prompt a reply from spokesman Jay Carney, who suggested that the plaintiffs also pay attention to the First Amendment protecting free speech.
The gun controversy encapsulated a problem that was there from the outset. Morgan seemed caught between different constituencies – the generally conservative Middle America and the more liberal independent republics of New York City and Los Angeles.
It turned out to be a balancing act for him and he got it wrong. Morgan has been sinking all of CNN's ships during primetime and he had to go. That said, Morgan said he was discussing other duties for CNN, like important interviews and breaking-news coverage.
"Jeff and I have been talking for some time about different ways of using me," he said.
There was also something else – the phone-hacking cloud that had attached itself, owing to his command of the 'Mirror'. He has denied all knowledge, while CNN has said the shuttering of his gig has nothing to do with the investigation.
One day he may well reveal whether his producers in fact encouraged him to jump off the deep end on guns. (© Independent News Service)
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