The fall of Piers Morgan

It's been over a month since Piers Morgan Uncensored was launched.[i]  Rupert Murdoch reportedly signed Morgan to a $63-million three-year deal and left no stone unturned in promoting the show.  There were billboards and newspaper advertisements.  Morgan appeared on Fox News and on all major shows in the U.K.  It was looking promising.

Then Morgan leaped straight into the gutter, pulling a cheap publicity stunt ably supported by his employers.  Morgan claimed that Donald Trump had walked out of his "explosive" interview because of his tough questions.  He even wrote an exaggerated piece about it in the N.Y. Post.

The claim of the walkout turned out to be a complete falsehood, but the stunt enabled Morgan to gain momentary attention as he rode on Trump's coattails. 

The interview fetched him a respectable 400,000 viewers in the U.K., beating all his competition.

A con man may be able to fool a large number of people the first time, but once the deception is discovered, people seldom return.

Despite being a media veteran, Morgan forgot that it is compelling content and not petty publicity stunts that sustains viewer loyalty.

It also helps if the host has star quality and charm to carry the show.  This is where Morgan falls short by light-years.

Back in 2011, Morgan took over Larry King's time slot on CNN, once again pulling similar stunts.  He bragged about being the new King of Media and got into a "feud" with Howard Stern, whom he had on his second show.  The combination of stunts and guests such as Oprah and Stern enabled high ratings during his first week.  But the viewers departed after that.

To make matters worse, Morgan used his show to relentlessly campaign for gun control.  Three years later, the show was canceled.

Piers Morgan was good on the Good Morning Britain show that he co-hosted alongside British journalist Susanna Reid.  This is because the smart, sassy, and attractive Reid was always there to counter Morgan and effectively restrain him.

Morgan alongside Reid did a sterling job interviewing the powers that be in Britain.  They were such a formidable team that P.M. Boris Johnson campaigning for elections hid in a fridge to escape tough questions.

What gun control was for his CNN show, Meghan Markle was for Good Morning Britain.  Morgan was personally offended that Markle didn't respond to his messages once she became royalty.  He used the show to frequently wage war against Markle.  Morgan's unhinged presentations were both monotonous and unamusing.  He ended up looking petty and vicious.  He even failed to engage those who disapprove of Markle.

He attempted humor referring to Markle as Princess Pinocchio, but none of those zingers worked.  When Markle accused the Royal Family of racism during an Oprah interview, Morgan expressed skepticism.  But instead of being precise, he appeared hysterical, as if his personal anger at Markle had gotten the better of him.  When the show's weather reporter accused him of racism and an unhealthy obsession with Markle, instead of defending himself, Morgan chose to walk off in the middle of the debate.

Morgan claimed that the producers of his show ordered him to apologize to Markle, which he rightly refused do to, and hence he was sacked. 

Morgan made a great deal about woke mobs going after him and cancel culture, as he painted himself as a martyr. 

This theme continues on Piers Morgan Uncensored, where Morgan frequently rants about "woke insanity" and "snowflake society."  Ironically, these meandering rants make him appear like a whiny snowflake who complains all day.  In fact, running away from a debate on Good Morning Britain is proof that he may not be the tough debater he claims he is.

Now for the star quality aspect of a TV anchor.  Star quality is inexplicable and unquantifiable.  It is not just about being photogenic or having a "broadcaster's voice."  It is just something that clicks with the audience.

When Morgan is alone on-screen delivering his opening monologue, something seems amiss, just as it did on his CNN show in 2011.  He simply lacks the gravitas and the skill to carry a show on his shoulders.  He also lacks delivery to be engaging when he is talking all by himself. 

During one-to-one interviews, Morgan frequently interrupts guests, often disturbing trains of thought.  At times, he bursts into sycophantic giggles when interviewing people he admires.

He even did that with President Trump.

Another issue with the show is the lack of focus.

Gone are the days when everybody watched the same show just because there was no other news show available.

Morgan launched his show by attacking and mocking Trump, who was kind enough to give him an interview.  That surely must have turned off many on the right, who were already upset with him because of his gun control stand.  The left obviously thinks of him as evil because he doesn't entirely conform to leftist ngroupthink.

An opinion show doesn't have to be ideologically pure, either.  Tucker Carlson frequently takes positions such as being against wars in foreign nations that were once taken by the left.  Carlson often has guests such as Glenn Greenwald who are by no means conservative.  Carlson frequently calls out GOP leaders for being cowardly and inept.

But Morgan's show seems directionless, as if various segments are randomly cobbled together.  What's worse is that the segments themselves aren't compelling.

Morgan also seems focused on creating frivolous outrage, as he did during the launch of his show.  Experts have said the appetite for outrage has diminished because of the seriousness of events like the war in Ukraine.  Also, those looking for outrage can find plenty of provocative options on YouTube, so there is no reason to watch Piers Morgan. 

Apart from President Trump, Morgan hasn't managed to secure interviews with any other major political figure, which often causes public interest.

The show's tag line, "Love him or hate him, you won't want to miss him," reveals the fault in the strategy.  Those who love him will watch him, obviously, but those who despise him have no reason to pay to watch him.  On Good Morning Britain, perhaps Morgan's detractors enjoyed Morgan being restrained or put in his place by his co-hosts.  Here it is Morgan all by himself.

Recently, the British media reported that Morgan is taking a six-week break from his struggling show.

However, "insiders" claim that this leave was "pre-scheduled" for later in the summer, to allow him to focus on a new project about serial killers.

Piers responded in an incongruous message, which makes it seem as though the rumors are probably true.

A newly launched show doing well in the ratings continues its run to build a brand.  Morgan's departure suggests that his backers may be losing faith in him.

Can the show be saved?

No, it cannot, the way it currently is.  The audience seems to have given up.   But a new show could be immediately created where Morgan has a co-host to challenge him.

 Photo credit: YouTube screen grab.

[i] As this is being published, he is anchoring the Fox News coverage of Queen Elizabeth II's platinum jubilee.

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