Gun-control spat, British accent, low ratings force CNN to axe Morgan show
CNN president Jeff Zucker pulled the plug on British host Piers Morgan's TV show after its ratings plunge, ending the former tabloid editor's three year run on US television.tv Updated: Feb 24, 2014 19:26 IST
CNN president Jeff Zucker pulled the plug on British host Piers Morgan's TV show after its ratings plunge, ending the former tabloid editor's three year run on US television.
Morgan, who irked US gun owners after launching a crusade for greater gun control, struggled after stepping into the shoes of popular, down-to-earth host Larry King in the coveted 9:00 pm primetime slot.
"CNN confirms that 'Piers Morgan Live' is ending," CNN vice president of communications Barbara Levin told AFP. "The date of the final program is still to be determined."
King, known for his ability to connect immediately and easily with ordinary Americans, hosted "Larry King Live" on CNN from 1985 to 2010.
Now 80, King still wears his trademark wide-rimmed glasses, shirt with rolled-up sleeves and suspenders as he hosts a show broadcast on Hulu, Ora TV and Russia's RT television.
Too British for US TV?
Morgan, in contrast, was inherently British -- and it was not just his accent, which for many viewers was grating, smug and condescending. Morgan made repeated references to cricket, a sport with little US presence, and professed his ignorance about American football and preference for the round football, soccer.
In an interview with The New York Times, Morgan said the show had "run its course," adding that he and Zucker "have been talking for some time about different ways of using me."
He also acknowledged the show was underperforming.
"It's been a painful period and lately we have taken a bath in the ratings," Morgan said, adding that the show suffered especially on slow news days.
"Look, I am a British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns, which has been very polarizing, and there is no doubt that there are many in the audience who are tired of me banging on about it," he added.
Morgan, whose contract ends in September, said he was weighing a different role at CNN where he would have fewer, higher-impact appearances, such as through major interviews with "big celebrities and powerful people."
'You're an unbelievably stupid man'
Morgan attracted national attention when he took a tough gun-control stance following the December 2012 massacre at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.
Gun rights activists soon posted a petition on the White House website calling for Morgan to be deported for allegedly attacking the Second Amendment rights of ordinary Americans after making anti-gun comments. It gathered 109,334 signatures.
The petition was posted after Morgan told gun advocate Larry Pratt on his show: "You're an unbelievably stupid man, aren't you?"
America has suffered an epidemic of gun violence over the last three decades. The vast majority of weapons used have been semi-automatic weapons obtained legally by the killers.
Morgan was editor of the Daily Mirror newspaper from 1995 to 2004 and before that was editor of Rupert Murdoch's News of the World, which closed amid a phone hacking scandal in 2011.
On Twitter, the handful of Morgan fans were drowned out by the flood of snide and nasty tweets.
"About time," read a typical tweet. "He was an idiot, boring, embarrassment."
"Piers Morgan show being dropped by CNN, a move likely to upset one or maybe even two people," read another.
One prolific tweeter not commenting yet was blogger Andrew Sullivan, Morgan's British-born US-based nemesis.
The two have clashed repeatedly, with Sullivan claiming that his rival was a relentless self-promoter tainted by his role in the tabloid phone hacking scandal.
Morgan insists that he's "never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, or published any stories based on the hacking of a phone."
First Published: Feb 24, 2014 19:00 IST