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Piers Morgan Tonight, Tomorrow & The Next Day

Called down from his position of being a poor-mans Simon Cowell on various reality TV shows, CNN has enlisted the help of one Piers Morgan to save its primetime lineup from a deepening ratings hole. Not only that, but Piers would be replacing Mr. CNN himself, Larry King. So, what exactly is the verdict a week after the show first premiered? Would Piers be an uncredible extension of his America’s Got Talent self, or would his Journalistic roots shine through?

The answer? A little bit of both. Think of Piers as the British Matt Lauer. He has that type of Morning Show personality that enables him to do the entertainment interviews, but also take the political candidates on. Thus far, the show has bounced back and forth in these Piers personalities, although thus far it’s leaned a little heavy on the entertainment side, with four out of his first six guests coming from the entertainment industry.

Surprisingly, Piers feels weakest on the entertainment interviews. To compare him with Matt Lauer, Lauer can be chummy with his guests, but at the same time he’s not afraid to poke Tom Cruise about his religion, or any topic if the news calls for. Piers just feels chummy. He might try to ask tough questions, but he can easily slip into worshiping his guest the next moment leading some to say that Piers’ softball questioning style makes Larry King look mean. I wouldn’t go that far, but the tone certainly is all over the place. But more often than not, it’s just kind of boring.

Then there’s his political interviews, but let’s dive into Piers’ very open political affiliation first. The Journalistic roots I mentioned earlier are actually Piers spending 10 years as the editor of two very prominent British tabloids. After this, Piers somehow became the co-host of a Crossfire type show, where Piers acted on the left-wing side, while his other co-host would represent the right-wing. So right there, you know he’s going to have a very biased style about him. Add to this the fact that Britain is generally a more liberal country in general, and Piers can be slightly antagonistic with his right-wing guests. Considering however that his first two political guests have been Condeleeza Rice and Rudy Giuliani, and it’s kind of a strange environment.

Still, I think he asked most of the appropriate questions. It’s what came after them I kind of have a problem with. While many have criticized The O’ Reilly Factor for doing the same thing, I kind of felt that Piers was cutting off the former Mayor Giuliani quite a bit. Was this the result of Piers trying to keep the conversation on track and shortened, or was it the result of editing? Either way, the mood felt off. This and the fact that the natural Britishness of Piers gives off strange vibes as well. Piers for example attacked Giuliani with the information that he felt that Britain’s health care system was superior to America’s current health care plan, and questioned Giuliani on his supposed opposition towards it, when in fact Giuliani didn’t oppose it at all, but only wanted Obama to present it better. Piers will also refer to “your country” or “your party,” which is another small detail that adds up to a very different & uneven show in general.

Also take the supposed advertised controversial questions with a grain of salt. For example, one of the headlines on CNN.com is from Thursday’s episode of Piers where Pastor Joel Osteen proclaims homosexuality a sin. This is what we call a snippet. In actuality, if you had heard the preview that featured that answer, which goes a few seconds after the “controversial” line, it wouldn’t be quite as controversial. It’s something common in the industry, but just beware of it.

Overall, having lost some 66% of its viewership since the premiere, Piers Morgan is hardly the savior CNN had been looking for. Even the premiere ratings, though valiantly competing well head-to-head with Sean Hannity, can be attributed to the “O Factor,” as Oprah was Piers’ first guest. Still, it’s stable enough and fitting enough with CNN’s audience and current model that Piers will stay on the air at CNN for years to come. He’s nowhere near as insufferable as Parker/Spitzer, as annoying as Hannity, or entertaining as Rachel Maddow, but he’ll do. For now. Piers Morgan Tonight is an interview show, just don’t expect solid interviews. Honestly, you’ll get more substance watching almost any of the network morning shows during their first hour.

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