CNN confirmed the long-awaited announcement that British TV personality and America's Got Talent judge Piers Morgan will take over the 9 p.m. slot on the network beginning in January. The CNN announcement came Sept. 8. Morgan's show will be based in New York, but he will also work from Los Angeles, where Talent is shot and London.
"Piers has made his name posing tough questions to public figures, holding them accountable for their words and deeds," said Jon Klein, president of CNN/U.S., in a statement. "He is able to look at all aspects of the news with style and humor with an occasional good laugh in the process. He is a natural fit with Anderson Cooper, Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker in our prime time line up, and the ideal choice to update the storied tradition of newsmaker talk on CNN."
Morgan replaces Larry King, who announced earlier this year that he would step down this November after 25 years on CNN. CNN's new 8 p.m. program, Parker/Spitzer, co-hosted by disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, bows Oct. 4. CNN has struggled in primetime amid opinionated competition on MSNBC and Fox News. And Klein has a lot riding on his new programs.
Morgan has had a long career in journalism, much of it in the tabloid realm. He began his career as a reporter for The Wimbledon News and then as a columnist at The Sun. In 1994, he was appointed editor of Rupert Murdoch's British scandal sheet News of the World. He was 28 at the time and the youngest editor in the newspaper's history.
In 1995, Morgan moved to another British tabloid, The Daily Mirror, where he had a somewhat rocky tenure. In 2000, he was the subject of an investigation after he was accused of buying shares in computer company Viglen right before TheMirror's business column recommended a buy on Viglen. He was found by the Press Complaints Commission, a British oversight body, to have breached the code of conduct of financial journalism. Morgan kept his job. But he found himself in hot water again in 2004 when The Mirror published what turned out to be crudely doctored photos purporting to show Iraqi prisoners being abused by British soldiers. The Mirror apologized under the headline "Sorry...we were hoaxed." Morgan was fired in May 2004.
In their press release announcing Morgan's addition to the network, CNN obliquely acknowledged his checkered tenure at The Mirror.
"After his controversial departure from the Mirror, Morgan went on to become a best-selling author, a regular media columnist, and host of his own interview programs on the BBC and ITV, as well as appear as a judge alongside Simon Cowell on the No.1-rated show Britain's Got Talent," stated the CNN press release.
"I am thrilled to be joining CNN, and very much looking forward to bringing my own style of interviewing to the world's biggest, and best, TV news organization," Morgan said in a statement. "As a young journalist in Britain, I watched CNN's astonishing live coverage of the 1991 Gulf War, and felt enthralled by the courage and brilliance of the journalists involved in that coverage. Years later, I watched Anderson Cooper's visceral reports from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and felt equally enthralled by his passionate and relentless search for the truth. Perhaps most pertinently, I have watched Larry King Live for much of the last 25 years, and dreamed of one day filling the legendary suspenders of the man I consider to be the greatest TV interviewer of them all. To now have the chance to work with Larry and Anderson, and to try and continue the outstanding journalistic legacy created by them, and so many others at CNN, is both a great honor, and a great challenge."