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Piers Morgan Gets the Hook

Friday, February 28, 2014

There's a saying in the entertainment business that "the show must go on." Everything has its limits, however, and this week CNN finally reached its limit with British tabloid journalist turned TV talk show host, Piers Morgan. Profitable TV is all about advertising, which is all about ratings, and after three years of coming in mostly dead last, or near dead last, in the ratings for its time slot, it's "curtains" for "Piers Morgan Live."

Over the last week, the internet has been full of speculation about the reasons for CNN cancelling Morgan's show. David Carr, writing in the New York Times, noted "There have been times when [Morgan] didn't seem to like America very much" and wondered whether Morgan's British accent didn't play well with American viewers.

On Mediaite's website, Noah Rothman suggested that CNN Worldwide president Jeffrey Zucker had contributed to Morgan's failure, and CNN's in general, by abandoning news-oriented shows in favor of those, like Morgan's, premised on the "attitude and take" of its hosts.

Rothman also said that Morgan was wrong to think that his ranting and raving about gun control over the last year would resonate with the American people. Scott Collins, writing in the Los Angeles Times, seemed to agree, saying that Morgan's "unyielding opinions on gun control irritated many viewers." Morgan too, at least pretended to agree, saying "I am a British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns. There is no doubt that there are many in the audience who are tired of me banging on about it."

All of this is undoubtedly true. But we suspect that Morgan's show is going away not just because Morgan thinks British gun control laws are better than America's, or because he supports "universal" background checks, a ban on semi-automatic rifles, and a ban on ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, or because he thinks blind people don't have Second Amendment rights, as he told the Washington Times' Emily Miller at 4:35 in this clip, after Miller defeated his attempt to portray British gun laws and crime trends more favorably than America's.

Morgan's support for gun control may, in fact, weigh favorably with his bosses. After all, Zucker was the Executive Producer of the NBC Today Show in 1993 and 1994, when it repeatedly showed video footage of machine guns being fired during stories about semi-automatic "assault weapons."

We also doubt that Morgan's show is being cancelled because his boorish conduct is beneath CNN's professional standards. Had matters of character been important at CNN, Morgan would never have been hired in the first place, having previously been fired from the British tabloid, Daily Mirror, for authorizing faked photos depicting British soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners. And Zucker, who has no kind words for the Republican Party or Fox News, would now be sending Morgan packing altogether, instead of looking to plug him into a different role at the network.

Plain and simple, Zucker is cutting "Piers Morgan Live" from CNN's lineup because the show has been costing the network millions of dollars in advertising revenues. This week, in an article for National Review, John Lott pointed out that at last count, Morgan was down to about 270,000 viewers, against over two million for Megyn Kelly's show on Fox News.

The legendary circus impresario, P.T. Barnum, is credited with saying that a good entertainer always leaves the audience wanting more. Americans instead want less of Piers Morgan, because of his support for gun control, yes, but also for reasons explained by "Halo123" on Emily Yahr's Washington Post blog. "The problem with this guy is that he just came across as obnoxious, annoying, always confrontational and overbearing. His constant interruption of people while they were talking made me just click to another channel."

So, as a pig with better manners and a more likeable personality than Morgan might say, "thigida, thigida, that's all, Piers!" 

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