Piers Morgan said his final goodbye to fans of his show on March 28. He hosted the Cable News Network (CNN) program for three years, following the departure of Larry King. Some people will probably miss him; many others will not. The fact is that the former commentator lost his show because of his pompous, self-righteous loud-mouthed attitude, and obsession with guns in the United States. The British expat shot himself in the foot with his loaded rhetoric, and irritating demeanor; in short, he acted like a stereotypical American tourist.
Morgan will almost undoubtedly be remembered most for his zealous rants about guns and gun control. He regularly feuded with his opponents over the subject, often launching into yelling and name calling. This kind of immature behavior led guests such as Ben Shapiro to describe him as a bully. New York State Senator Greg Ball told the British interviewer that he “got paid for being a jerk.” The journalist himself commented that he might be known as the guy at a local bar who drones on about a single subject. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post echoed the “jerk” statement. Writing in a column, he commented “….There are a couple of problems with being a jerk…allure defaults to the host and his personality….” Personality was definitely not the British commentator’s greatest tool.
While Morgan was most known for taking shots at conservative issues, voices in left leaning media shared relief at the British host’s resignation. New York Times media and culture columnist David Carr, himself not an obvious conservative, stated that the English host at times didn’t seem to like America very much. Morgan would regularly mouth off and compare the United States to the UK and other Commonwealth countries in a very negative light; he often did so with loaded questions and ad hominem attacks against guests with varying opinions. The result, as Carr points out, is a show with very poor ratings; it lagged behind commentators at right-leaning Fox News and Left-leaning MSNBC alike. CNN for its part, seems to aspire to the via media.
Many Americans came to compare Morgan to King George III, and regularly referred to him as a “Red Coat” on youtube. Like the 18th Century monarch, The pugnacious Englishman seemed to peer down his nose at the unruly Americans and wonder what it would take to civilize the local rustics. As Carr again points out well, the commentator who originally hails from East Sussex may have done well to remember that the right to bear arms was codified in the Constitution because Britain was trying to disarm the people of the 13 colonies.
While the guns issue was a major source of debate for the former CNN commentator, it was not the only one. Morgan had equally abrasive dialogues with different kinds of guests. He argued with former president Ronald Reagan’s son, Michael, about why the U.S. should sanction gay marriage. He also challenged Penn Gillette of Penn and Teller fame, about the latter’s outspoken, and at times aggressive atheism; in spite support of gay marriage, Morgan claims to be a Roman Catholic.
Carr relayed a phone call between him and his European counterpart. The former CNN host stated “Look, I am a British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns, which has been very polarizing, and there is no doubt that there are many in the audience who are tired of me banging on about it.” He seems to at least have a load of understanding here. He may have had a shot of staying with CNN’s regular prime time programming. However to do so, Morgan would have to take a strong look at himself through a common American’s eyes. Instead, he chose to shoot off his mouth like a Midwestern kid’s pellet gun that he seems to so hate.
Commentary by Ian Erickson