The much hyped debate tonight between CNN’s Piers Morgan and radio host Alex Jones, one of the men behind the White House petition to deport the British host, wasn’t much of a debate but lived up to its billing as riveting television of the trainwreck variety. Morgan could barely ask a question over Jones who came armed with statistics and blew up two minutes into the interview, pointing his finger at Morgan. “I’m here to tell you — 1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms! It doesn’t matter how many lemmings you have out there on the street begging for them to have their guns taken. We will not relinquish them. Do you understand?” Jones later went on a personal attack against Morgan and his alleged involvement in the Britain’s phone hacking scandal. “Why don’t you get back and face the charges for the hacking scandal? Why did you get fired from the Daily Mirror for putting out fake stories? You’re a hatchet man of the New World Order. You’re a hatchet man!” It is worth noting that the official CNN video cuts right before Jones’ comments about Morgan. A non-edited YouTube version of the first part of the interview is at the bottom of the post.
After realizing that there was a zero chance for debate, Morgan changed tactics, prompting Jones to air his controversial conspiracy theory believes that the U.S. government is giving citizens “suicide mass murder pills” and that the military industrial complex was behind the 9/11 attack. “He perfectly exemplifies the problem,” Morgan said of Jones later on the show.
As for the petition, which has garnered 104,000 signatures to date, it was addressed today by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. “The White House responds to all petitions that cross the threshold and we will respond to this one,” he said. “In the meantime, it is worth remembering that the freedom of expression is a bedrock principle in our democracy.” Read More »
Defiant CNN host Piers Morgan added more fire to his public fight with gun supporters in a column published in the Daily Mail.
Morgan has been at odds with gun advocates since the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook massacre, which prompted the British journalist to launch an aggressive pro-gun control campaign on his show, clashing with gun lobbyists, including his verbal spat with Gun Owners of America head Larry Pratt whom Morgan told on the air, “You are an unbelievably stupid man.” Morgan’s gun control crusade led to a White House petition by gun advocates asking for Morgan’s deportation because of his “hostile attack against the U.S. Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment.” The petition has garnered more than 91,000 signatures to date, prompting Morgan to quip on Twitter, “Still only 90,000 Americans have signed the White House petition to deport me. That leaves 310,910,00 who presumably want me to stay.”
He went further in his column. ”I will not stop in my own efforts to keep the gun-control debate firmly in people’s minds, however much abuse I’m subjected to,” he wrote. Read More »
Michael Moore took on Piers Morgan last night over the media’s coverage, specifically CNN, of Hurricane Sandy, saying there needed to be fewer reporters standing outside in drenching rain and wind and more news of what was actually going on. Morgan disagreed, saying the images showed how big and dangerous the storm was. Much of the discussion focused on a wind-blown Ali Velshi who reported in waist-high water from an Atlantic City intersection. Velshi later called in to defend himself and CNN, saying “This is not our first rodeo”. Check it out below.
Phone-Hacking Allegations Hit Mirror Newspapers Until yesterday, phone-hacking claims had been limited to papers owned by News Corp.’s UK press arm. Now, Britain’s Mirror Group Newspapers may be brought into the scandal as four individuals line up cases against its titles. Among those seeking damages are former manager of the English soccer team, Sven Goran Eriksson; a former nanny to David Beckham’s children and a TV soap actress. Eriksson’s claims against the Daily Mirror are believed to stem from a period when CNN host Piers Morgan was editor. Morgan gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into UK media ethics late last year at which time he said he had no knowledge or reason to believe there was any phone hacking at the paper during his tenure. The claims against Mirror papers allege “breach of confidence and misuse of private information,” in relation to the “interception and/or misuse of mobile phone voicemail messages and/or the interception of telephone accounts.” The attorney for the claimants, Mark Lewis, said no particulars had been filed, but that relevant dates relating to alleged activity were submitted to the court, The Guardianreports. A spokesman for MGN parent, Trinity Mirror, said: “We have no comment. We are unaware action has been taken at the High Court.”
Downton Abbey Hits New Season High In UK Overnights, Debuts In NZ Downton Abbey was up again Sunday night on the UK’s ITV. The sixth episode of Season 3 hit an overnight ratings high of 9.69M viewers during the 9pm hour. That score, a 36.6% share, beat the season’s previous top performer which drew 9.66M viewers in the overnights on Oct. 1. Factoring in Sunday’s delayed viewings, Downton drew just over 10M viewers. Meanwhile, in New Zealand, season 3 of the show kicked off this weekend on free-to-air web Prime drawing top ratings with just over 350K viewers. Read More »
UPDATE: Paul McCartney’s ex-wife Heather Mills has declared she is being made a “scapegoat” by Piers Morgan. Mills’ name popped up repeatedly at a Tuesday session of the Leveson Inquiry into UK press ethics during which Morgan was grilled about a message left by McCartney on Mills’ voice mail which he previously said had been played for him. The erstwhile News Of The World and Daily Mirror editor refused to reveal who played the message, but it was suggested it was Mills or someone authorized by her. In a statement posted to her website, Mills writes in part: “For the avoidance of doubt, I can categorically state that I have never ever played Piers Morgan a tape of any kind, never mind a voice message from my ex-husband. Piers Morgan is doing all he can to deter the Leveson inquiry from finishing their important job. Morgan is using me as his scapegoat and I would be more than happy to answer any questions that the inquiry would like to put to me.” Lord Justice Leveson on Tuesday said he was considering calling Mills.
PREVIOUS: London police arrested a female officer on suspicion of corruption in connection with a multipronged investigation into activity connected to phone hacking at the shuttered News of the World. Additionally, former News of the World editor Andy Coulson lost a bid to force publisher News Group to pay … Read More »
CNN talk show host Piers Morgan denied any wrongdoing in the current phone-hacking scandal that has rocked the British media. At the end of a very tough session of the Leveson Inquiry into UK press ethics, Morgan told the panel he felt “like a rock star having an album of his worst ever hits” thrust at him as the former News Of The World and Daily Mirror editor. Sitting under a halo of soft light in an unadorned room back in Los Angeles, Morgan spent over two hours giving evidence on such topics as rumor mongering, phone hacking, and Paul McCartney’s voicemails. His testimony was piped into the inquiry room in London, where the exchanges were decidedly strained. It all got off to a rocky start when Robert Jay, counsel for the inquiry, asked Morgan to confirm he was currently employed by CNN. “Yes, it’s clearly passed you by, Mr. Jay,” Morgan quipped when Jay said he’d heard the cable news network’s Piers Morgan Tonight was “apparently” very popular in America. Jay then consistently brought up past interviews and passages from Morgan’s own books to challenge the CNN host. Morgan said he’d never to his knowledge listened to what he believed to be illegally obtained messages, and said he had no knowledge or reason to believe there was phone hacking at the Daily Mirror during his tenure. At one point, Jay exclaimed: “Oh, come on Mr Morgan, [the Mirror] was at the top of the list of the perpetrators. And you well know that.” Morgan shot back: “You also know not a single person has made a formal complaint against the Daily Mirror. So why would you say that?” Read More »
When Howard Stern finally made a deal to join Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne as a judge on America’s Got Talent, the radio icon was immediately criticized by morality groups like the Parents Television Council. Stern in the past brought up the fact that original judge David Hasselhoff had bouts with the bottle — remember that widely circulated cheeseburger video –and nobody raised an eyebrow when he judged talent on the show. Off the air, Stern has led a squeaky clean life. I think the only critics he should answer to are the subscribers of Sirius XM Radio who pay monthly dues to hear his show and watched him cut back to three days per week and add to what was already a liberal vacation schedule. We understood it was either that or watch Stern retire, but it’s still a surprise to see him adding a side job. In a world where Clint Eastwood is reportedly part of what sounds like a Kardashian-like reality TV show about his wife and daughters, why shouldn’t Stern be entitled to judge this karaoke contest? Here, Stern answers the man he is replacing, Piers Morgan, on why his critics are wrong and why he will make a worthy reality show judge.
Piers Morgan, the CNN host who was editor of News Corp’s now-shuttered News of the World between 1994-95, will appear next week before a UK inquiry investigating media ethics in the wake of the tabloid’s phone-hacking scandal. The Piers Morgan Tonight host and former America’s Got Talent judge had said over Thanksgiving that he would appear soon, and today his PR rep confirmed that he will do so sometime next week. The panel has already heard from such victims as Sienna Miller, JK Rowling and Hugh Grant. Morgan likely will face questions about allegations that he allowed hacking while working at another UK tabloid, the Daily Mirror, and that he personally listened to intercepted voicemails; he has denied such charges.
A month shy of his one-year anniversary at CNN, Piers Morgan just posted his lowest-rated month to date in the key adults 25-54 demographic. His Piers Morgan Tonight averaged 154,000 viewers in the demo in November. That was down 4% from the delivery of his predecessor Larry King in the 9 PM slot last November. Meanwhile, in his first full month at 8 PM, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz drew 201,000 in 25-54. That was better than the 176,000 demo viewers Lawrence O’Donnell delivered in the slot in October. But it was down 35% from the performance of Keith Olbermann in the 8 PM hour last November. (O’Donnell too was down 35% from Olbermann’s October 2010 average.) Overall, Fox News once again led the cable news network pack in November with 258,000 viewers among adults 25-54, followed by MSNBC (138,000) and CNN (121,000).
A report in the Wall Street Journal has Howard Stern in talks with NBC to succeed Piers Morgan as host of America’s Got Talent, working alongside Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne. Stern is a huge fan of the show and has often spoken of his wish to be a judge on one of these programs. It has been a big week for the Sirius XM morning man, whose interview with Brett Ratner was a big reason the filmmaker was prompted to resign as producer of the Academy Awards. According to WSJ, Stern’s looking at $15 million a year to judge.
NBC brass’ blessing was key in Piers Morgan landing his talk show host gig on CNN because he was under contract at the broadcast network as a judge on America’s Got Talent. Now Morgan is leaving NBC, which allowed him to fulfill his dream of succeeding Larry King, and the reality series that established him in the US to focus on his struggling primetime show on CNN. Morgan made the announcement on the CNN program, Piers Morgan Tonight. “I’m leaving America’s Got Talent,” he said. (video below) “I’ve been there since the show began 6 years ago and have loved every second of it but discovered that juggling is a bit more difficult than I thought.” NBC recently renewed the veteran talent competition for next summer.
Between now and the 2012 presidential election, Hollywood filmmakers will be put under even more scrutiny for every political statement they make. The latest twist is whether the movie moguls think politically outspoken actors shouldn’t be cast because 50% of the country who disagree with their views won’t turn out at the box office to see their pics. The latest case study is Morgan Freeman who on Friday went on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight and denied he’d provided narration for a Tea Party-supported Republican candidate’s attack ad last November. Then the Oscar winner blasted the Tea Party, calling their aggressive ambitions “racist” for their opposition to President Barack Obama. ”Their stated policy, publicly stated, is to do whatever it takes to see to it that Obama only serves one term,” Freeman said. “What underlines that? ‘Screw the country. We’re going to whatever we can to get this black man outta here.’” Freeman claimed the Tea Party agenda ”just shows the weak, dark, underside of America” and added, “We’re supposed to be better than that.” The timing couldn’t have been worse for Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros and their Dolphin Tale starring Freeman. Immediately, the Internet filled with media chatter that Freeman’s statements would hurt Dolphin Tale at the box office this weekend because it featured him prominently in the movie trailer and TV ads aimed at the American heartland. So this morning I asked Alcon Entertainment co-founder Andrew Kosove whether he thought the Freeman ruckus had hurt the pic this weekend. (Kosove … Read More »
In a bizarre incident, former Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell today walked out of the taping of an interview for CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight, which is set to air tonight. The tipping point was Morgan’s question about her stance on gay marriage. (By that point, he had already quizzed her on witchcraft and sex with the tension between the two visibly escalating, especially when Morgan repeatedly asked O’Donnell to address old comments about masturbation she had made in an 1990s MTV documentary special.) “You’re being a little rude,” she told him several times before asking her handlers “Are we done?” and taking off her microphone. But not before schooling Morgan on conducting interviews: “Don’t you think as a host if I say ‘This what I wanna talk about’, that’s what we should address?” O’Donnell was on the show promoting her book Troublemaker. “My first ever walk-out in 25 years of interviews,” Morgan wrote on Twitter. “I guess viewers can decide if I was ‘rude’ or not tonight.” Here is the video, judge for yourselves. UPDATE: After airing the unfinished interview on his show tonight, Morgan invited O’Donnell to return tomorrow and promised not to be rude.
UPDATE: Politicians over here are saying that it is not enough for CNN chat show Piers Morgan to issue communiqués from America saying that he knows nothing about phone-hacking. Morgan has denied he knows anything about Heather Mills, Paul McCartney’s ex-wife, having her phone hacked – although in 2006 he admitted to once listening to one of her mobile phone messages. Therese Coffey, a Conservative MP who sits on a UK Parliament committee investigating phone-hacking, told the BBC that Morgan must help police with their inquiries. Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party, also weighed in, saying Morgan has questions to answer. “It’s not good enough for him to say, or somebody to say on his behalf, I always comply with the law,” Harman told Sky News. Of course, there’s an element of people rubbing their hands here. A lot of politicians who have scores to settle with the CNN chat-show host would like to see him take a fall; and Morgan’s bosses in Atlanta will doubtless be taking a dim view of this unwelcome publicity. But the political committee that recently grilled Rupert Murdoch tells me it won’t be calling for Morgan to give evidence. Morgan himself was unavailable for comment.
PREVIOUS: The burgeoning News Corp phone-hacking scandal continues to make waves for Rupert Murdoch in the UK, and increasingly they’re crossing the Atlantic. Today, CNN anchor Piers Morgan’s efforts to battle allegations that he was involved in phone hacking while editing News Corp.’s UK tabloids News of the World and the Daily Mirror suffered a setback. Paul McCartney’s ex-wife, Heather Mills, leveled her own accusation against Morgan in an interview with BBC Newsnight. Mills claims that a journalist with the Mirror Group, which owns the Daily Mirror, admitted to her that he hacked into her voicemail in 2001 and listened to a message McCartney left her after she’d left for India in the wake of a fight. The BBC notes that while the journalist in question wasn’t Morgan, the CNN anchor did tell the Daily Mail in 2006 that he had listened to a “heartbreaking” message McCartney left Mills while she was in India following a “tiff.” While not accusing Morgan of engaging in phone hacking himself, Mills points a finger at the former Daily Mirror editor. “There was absolutely no honest way that Piers Morgan could have obtained that tape that he has so proudly bragged about unless they had gone into my voice messages,” she said. Morgan, who also serves as a judge on NBC’s reality competition show America’s Got Talent, denied the allegations in a statement. Read More »
UPDATE, 4:30 PM: As part of Justice Department and FBI probes into allegations of bribery and the potential hacking of voice mails of 9/11 victims, News Corp today asked employees at its New York Post to save any information related to phone hacking or government bribes. The Wall Street Journal said a memo from editor-in-chief Col Allen said the measure was related to the scandal engulfing the News Corp-owned News of the World and “not because any recipient has done anything improper or unlawful.”
PREVIOUS, 9:37 AM: We have some interesting developments today in the Murdoch phone-hacking scandal:
James Murdoch should prepare himself for another appearance before the UK Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Chairman John Whittingdale said today that “the chances are” members will recall him to determine whether he lied to them last week. Murdoch said he approved a keep-quiet payment to a News Of The World hacking victim two years ago thinking that just one reporter had engaged in the practice. Three former News Corp officials contradicted him, saying that Murdoch had seen an email that made it clear at least one other reporter was involved — suggesting Murdoch was trying to cover up the extent of the scandal. The committee will question Murdoch’s challengers. “If they do come back with statements that are quite plainly different from those given by James Murdoch, we will want to hear James Murdoch’s response to that,” Whittingdale says.
Murdoch also may have a new problem with Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who pleaded guilty in 2007 to hacking for NOTW. In a statement today, Mulcaire says that he was “effectively employed” by NOTW and that “as an employee he acted on the instructions of others.” Last week Murdoch agreed to stop paying for Mulcaire’s legal bills.
Also, today Louise Mensch — a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee — apologized for saying last week that CNN’s Piers Morgan hacked phones when he worked on Fleet Street. Read More »
Is this the smoking gun linking former News of the World editor Piers Morgan to the phone-hacking scandal that led to the shutdown of the veteran tabloid and has been shaking News Corp to its core? Not exactly, but it does raise some doubts about the CNN anchor’s recent statements that he knew nothing about the shoddy practices while at the helm of the British paper. In a 2009 BBC radio interview obtained by The Daily Beast, Morgan is asked about questionable newsgathering methods employed by tabloid reporters like him. Read More »
Piers Morgan brought in his predecessor Larry King on his CNN show tonight to set the record straight over King’s recent comments that Morgan “may have been oversold” to American audiences. “He was going to be dangerous. He was going to be water cooler talk,” King told BBC Radio 4 last week. “He’s good. He’s not that dangerous.”
Tonight, King didn’t backtrack. “Were you being facetious when you said you were dangerous?” King asked. “Was that an attempt at British humor?” When Morgan finally conceded that there was British humor involved, King shot back. “I don’t get it, I’m from Brooklyn. In Brooklyn, if you say you’re dangerous, you better be dangerous.” Here is the full exchange:
In a face-off that is bound to feel awkward and uncomfortable, CNN’s Piers Morgan will interview his predecessor Larry King this week. The encounter comes on the heels of King’s statement last week that Morgan “may have been oversold” to American audiences. “He was going to be dangerous. He was going to be water cooler talk,” King told BBC Radio 4. “He’s good. He’s not that dangerous.”
In a statement, Morgan vaguely referenced the controversy. “I can’t think of many people I’d rather interview than Larry King, and I’m sure people will be fascinated by the dynamic between us, for obvious reasons,” he said.
Morgan was far snippier on Twitter. “May have to twang those suspenders to prove how dangerous I really am,” he wrote. And “Hope Larry remembers he has to sit on the right now.”
In an interview for BBC Radio 4 in his successor Piers Morgan’s native Britain, former CNN host said Morgan was a “fine” host but may have suffered from overhyping. “I think one of the problems (CNN) did was over sell it. He was going to be dangerous, he was going to be water cooler talk,” King said. “He’s good but not that dangerous. I think they might have been better off starting quietly and that’s not Piers’ fault, or maybe it is, I’m not inside anymore. He’s certainly not bad. He’s certainly an acceptable host. He asks good questions, maybe he interrupts a little too much at times. I think he may have been oversold.”