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Piers Morgan takes the chair

Update, 3:45 p.m.

Piers Morgan just took vigorous exception to a reporter saying he doesn't have a journalistic background.

"I was a journalist for 25 years on Fleet Street," the newly named CNN host told Eric Deggans of the St. Petersburg Times during a conference call. "You can't just glibly call me a non-journalist."

Deggans said sure, but will Morgan have a problem because he's not seen in America as a journalist?

"I will if eminent journalists such as yourself inform your readers I'm not a journalist," Morgan said. "In my eyes, my journalistic pedigree is pretty strong."

Morgan talked about his "slightly cheeky" interviewing style and said he would not shove his opinions down the throats of Americans. He took a swipe at the "inter-feudal" nature of prime-time cable shows, where "Rachel attacks Bill ... Keith attacks Glenn." But he's a serious guy, Morgan insisted, noting that he interviewed Tony Blair 56 times.

Still, is a British tabloid editor-turned-talent judge the right replacement for Larry King?

We're about to find out.

CNN has finally confirmed that Piers Morgan will take over the 9 p.m. Eastern hour this fall, which has been obvious for some time.

People seem to like him on "America's Got Talent." They may not know he was once fired from the Mirror. Then again, they may not care.

At 28, Morgan was editor of Rupert Murdoch's News of the World--the same tabloid that has hacked into the phone messages of the royals and other celebs, and which has reporters impersonate sheiks to trap the likes of Fergie.

In 2004, he was fired from the Daily Mirror after publishing what turned out to be fake photos of British troops abusing prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. The paper called it "a malicious and calculating hoax."

Since then Morgan has become a major celebrity in Britain and spends time in Hollywood, hanging out with the likes of Paris Hilton.

On the plus side, Morgan is a terrific interviewer who once got Nick Clegg, now Britain's deputy prime minister, to talk about how many women he's slept with.

Will the show be more celeb-heavy or newsier than with Larry? Or will it be more about Piers? I guess we'll find out.

By Howard Kurtz  |  September 8, 2010; 12:56 PM ET
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Can a leopard change its spots? Typically, no, but Morgan has a golden opportunity to fill a storied spot with his own skills, however tabloid-y they may be/been. He may decide to leave all that behind and go with decency and decorum while at the same time being a bit more hard hitting than Larry King. King just phoned it in for so many years, plus he’s hard on the eyes. I've seen glimpses of humanity in both Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan during their most recent tenure as judges on Britain/America's Got Talent, so maybe they've arrived at a place in life where scratching and clawing isn't as important or necessary. I read an essay by Simon Cowell that, if sincere, was poignant in his assessment of how he climbed the ladder of success.

Simon Cowell: A letter to my shallow, restless, cocky younger self

Cowell is a close friend of Morgan and in fact was instrumental in bringing Morgan to America. Maybe some of Cowell's critical self-reflection will rub off on Morgan. One can only hope.

Posted by: SoCalGal2 | September 11, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

This latest Anglo-American media coupling puts to shame the more honest daily transactions between streetwalker and john. At least the world's oldest profession doesn't pretend to be something it's not, even at its Pretty Woman best. CNN and Piers pretend to be in the news and interview business. Not so. CNN desperately needs a fast leg up in the ratings wars. The heavily perfumed and overexposed Piers wants an image facelift and professional respectability. A deal is struck, though the results may not stand the light of day or the test of time. Some hope that Piers Morgan will rise above his natural instincts and do credit to his new position at CNN. It is a noble hope that leopards can change their spots. Piers may indeed change his clothes, but he will retain his style as Tabloid Proctologist, anesthetizing his guests with flattery before impaling them with a hot umbrella and opening it wide for a long and distorted view of their private lives. Analysts often say that the public likes this, and CNN gambles that Piers will sell and all will be well. If the tabloid-style lynchings we feast on daily are just an appetizer, will the ultimate main course we crave be human sacrifice? We must demand better of ourselves and better from our news institutions. Otherwise, we gorge on tabloid junk food and doze in contented ignorance while Democracy dies.

Posted by: masonjud | September 13, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

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