CNN may be close to replacing veteran broadcaster Larry King with British journalist and America's Got Talent host Piers Morgan, according to various media reports. King has been on CNN for 25 years, but his show has lately suffered a ratings slump. Even though he has a year left in his contract, some industry watchers say he could be replaced by Morgan next year. (CNN has denied the rumors.) American viewers mainly know Morgan, 45, as the snarky, Simon Cowell-like judge on the Fox talent show, but he's famous in his home country both as a former tabloid editor and a TV interviewer whose questioning brought former Prime Minister Gordon Brown to tears. Would he be the right choice to replace King? (Watch a Sky News report about the rumored deal)
Hiring Morgan would be substituting entertainment for news: Say what you like about the aging King, says Adrian Chen at Gawker, but at least he's a journalist. Piers Morgan is an import from "the world of entertainment" who would speed CNN's "transformation into an insipid celebrity-fueled social networking machine." King made his name by wooing shiny celebrities into his studio. "Piers Morgan is a shiny celebrity."
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But he's a fierce interviewer unafraid to ask tough questions: Morgan's critics in the U.K. — of which there are many — will be "gnashing [their] teeth" at this news, says Toby Young in Britain's Daily Telegraph. But Morgan's "unwavering tabloid instinct" makes him an "extremely effective television interviewer." At the very least, he'll be a "welcome antidote to the general fawning that greets celebrities whenever they appear on American television."
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CNN needs better ratings, but Morgan isn't the answer: CNN is trying to deal with the reality that "center-of-the-road news coverage isn't really what the public wants," says Kate Moser Miller at the New York Press. But the "withering network" won't save itself by throwing its credibility out the window and signing up "rock bottom derelicts" like Morgan. Look at his résumé — he was forced to quit his tabloid editorship in 2004 "after printing fake photos of British soldiers torturing Iraqis." This really is "scraping the bottom of the barrel."
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