It was the kind of media announcement that schadenfreude was invented for: after three years hosting the weekday 9pm Eastern Time show on CNN, Piers Morgan is to step down from the role next month. As ever in the USA, the dread word ratings is being cited as the reason for the show being pulled (see my take just after his show started HERE). But CNN is being caned by its competitors, whoever is on duty.
Given out by the CNN umpire - Piers Morgan
Morgan replaced veteran host Larry King in January 2011 at a time when ratings for the 9pm slot had been in decline for several years. There was some improvement last year, but this was mainly due to what are known as “CNN Events” – a succession of one-off news stories, for which many viewers still tune in to the channel before any of its competitors.
So, when rival network MSNBC saw its own figures dip last year, there was no wavering by Phil Griffin and his team, and sure enough, they were back ahead of CNN at the start of this year. And way out in front of both networks has always been Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), whose decision to shuffle the pack and give Megyn Kelly their 9pm weekday slot only put more pressure on Morgan.
The competition: Rachel Maddow at MSNBC ...
Larry King lost the battle for second place in the cable news ratings battle soon after MSNBC gave Rachel Maddow her own show in 2008. Fox had professional loudmouth Sean Hannity on duty at 9pm, but he was regularly losing a million viewers after the hand-over from top rated host Bill O’Reilly. Ms Kelly has done a little better – at the expense of the unfortunate Morgan.
So the time-slot Piers Morgan occupied was always going to be a tough gig. Last month, he was getting 421,000 viewers while Maddow was pulling in more than a million (although Larry King’s ratings at the end of his reign were no better). In comparison, Anderson Cooper, who takes the 8pm slot, got 484,000 viewers and was not as soundly trounced by Chris Hayes at MSNBC on 809,000.
... and, latterly, Megyn Kelly at Fox News
There has, inevitably, been a characteristically lame effort by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog to capitalise on Morgan’s departure, as they wrongly assert “CNN Sack Phone Hacking Suspect” (Morgan’s contract does not end until September, it isn’t being terminated, and he is not, as far as is known, suspected of phone hacking).
What The Great Guido fails to notice is that, unless Morgan can secure himself another berth Stateside, he is most likely to fetch up back in the UK, where he already presents a not very good chat-show-cum-This-Is-Your-Life series for ITV. Moreover, he’s made enough of the folding stuff from CNN not to be fussed what the Laurel and Hardy of the blogosphere think of him.
Morgan’s is the kind of failure many in the media can only dream of.