Farewell Larry, as CNN Dumbs Down

At one level you can but admire the chutzpah of CNN President Jonathan Klein who is replacing the venerable Larry King with an English presenter, who King says he” wouldn’t recognise if he walked down the street”. Fortunately for Klein the English man in question is not Tony Hayward of BP, but one Piers Pugh Morgan, a former editor of the tabloid Daily Mirror and a judge on America’s Got Talent.


Piers Morgan lives and breathes ‘celebrity’, he made his name as a pursuer of celebrity trivia for the News of the World newspaper, a gutter hugging popular tabloid. He went on to become the youngest Editor of the left leaning Daily Mirror, a newspaper that had long before lost its claim to be a champion of the ordinary man and woman in the street. To be fair to Piers, he couldn’t take the Mirror much further down-market, and always there to prevent any hint of old Mirror revival was the in your face rival that is Rupert Murdoch’s Sun. And so it continued – until Piers Morgan gloriously broke with the British Government over the war in Iraq and the Mirror was suddenly back with us again, urgent, clear and angry. And then Piers went and spoilt it all by publishing fake photographs of British soldiers torturing Iraqis by putting hoods over them and urinating on them.

This was not a simple mistake, a question of publishing photographs in good faith not knowing that they had been concocted. Morgan was repeatedly warned not to run them because his staff and lawyers knew that they were fakes. Morgan published and was rightly damned – not because for some reason he had pressed the auto-destruct button, but because the pictures were dynamite in the Middle East, confirmation that the Brits were just as bad as the Americans at Abu Ghraib. Having spoken out against the war, Morgan’s actions now put some of those same soldiers in harms way. He was sacked. I don’t recall him ever apologising, although he will correct me if I am wrong.

But since many Americans sincerely believe in giving people a second chance – which presumably also explains Klein’s decision to hand the show that precedes Larry King to the disgraced Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer – Piers Morgan will have his second shot.

Now personally I have nothing against Piers Morgan, who I have known on and off over the years. He is not one of nature’s ‘firers’, and his staff usually tended to like him. Of course he is bumptious and will only talk to you if he thinks there is something in it for him, but that hardly makes him unique. I once sat opposite him at a Labour Party fund raiser, as he stretched over to Tony Blair and said “Oi Tony, you want to raise some money? Here’s a Tenner!”, before throwing a crumpled note in the then Leader of the Opposition’s direction. That incident says a lot about Morgan’s cheek – but also just as he sidles up to power and celebrity and loves name dropping, how also he can turn.

So he will be pretty fearless in posing the questions, even if he won’t sport braces. But is he a later day David Frost? Pull the other one!

What Piers Morgan truly represents is the triumph of ‘B’ list celebrity trivia and gossip, and alarmingly yet further evidence of the dumbing down of TV and CNN in particular. Sure, he can fire questions from the hip, but this man has not drunk from any deep wells.

 His is a school of journalism that Ted Turner created CNN to escape from.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Think you’re bad at math? You may suffer from ‘math trauma’

Even some teachers suffer from anxiety about math.

Image credit: Getty Images
Mind & Brain

I teach people how to teach math, and I've been working in this field for 30 years. Across those decades, I've met many people who suffer from varying degrees of math trauma – a form of debilitating mental shutdown when it comes to doing mathematics.

Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

How KGB founder Iron Felix justified terror and mass executions

The legacy of Felix Dzerzhinsky, who led Soviet secret police in the "Red Terror," still confounds Russia.

Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Felix Dzerzhinsky led the Cheka, Soviet Union's first secret police.
  • The Cheka was infamous for executing thousands during the Red Terror of 1918.
  • The Cheka later became the KGB, the spy organization where Russia's President Putin served for years.
Keep reading Show less