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Piers Morgan debuts on CNN with Oprah Winfrey with 2.1 million viewers

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Piers Morgan on his first CNN program last night got a lot of advance hype for getting Oprah Winfrey to admit to gorging on 30 pounds of mac and cheese after “Beloved” failed in 1998.

Did he live up to the hype last night? It was probably a losing battle on that front. Oddly, that mac and cheese anecdote didn’t even make the final cut. (Still, he pulled in 2.1 million viewers, a big number for CNN but short of what Fox News’ Sean Hannity got at 2.37 million.)

How did Piers do last night?

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Oprah has already revealed as much as she’s wanted to reveal on her show or to Barbara Walters. It was unlikely Piers was going to get much new out of her. And he didn’t. But it was a pleasant conversation nonetheless. He was respectful, not too hard hitting, calling her royalty and “America’s therapist.” He did ask her some interesting questions such as “Do you like being famous?” or “How many times have you been properly in love?”

“That’s a good question,” Oprah said. “Do you mean properly, is it real love?”

She said her heart was broken twice but she wouldn’t say who.

She also avoided certain questions deftly.

“I have addressed it and am never going to go there again,” she said, about the lesbian rumors with Gayle King.

In the end, he is clearly a likable interviewer who is capable of doing this day in and day out in a style far different from Larry King.

Tonight’s interview with Howard Stern should be a lot of fun.

Here are some excerpts of reviews:

The New York Daily News:

Morgan showed himself to be a serious, well-prepared interviewer, considerably more linear than his predecessor While he’s spent most of his career in his native Britain, he’s got a profile here, and some number of people will watch anything Oprah.But that didn’t add up to much of a fresh takeaway last night. Through no fault of Morgan’s, Oprah doesn’t have a lot of “I didn’t know that” moments left.

The Washington Post:

Piers Morgan and Oprah Winfrey pretended they really liked each other while grappling to seize control of the debut of CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” Tuesday night.

The Los Angeles Times

Just to state the obvious, Winfrey is nothing if not media-savvy, so she knew exactly which questions Morgan would ask, and she was prepared to head them off at the pass. As a result, the interaction was more like a meta-interview about celebrity journalism. Winfrey repeatedly said things like, “That’s such an old story, Piers,” and “I knew you were going to go there sooner or later.” The implied message from Winfrey? “I’ll cry for Barbara Walters but not for you.” At times, Winfrey seemed a smidge exasperated with her interlocutor. One wonders if she’d have sat down with Morgan if she didn’t have a brand-new cable network to promote; I’m guessing not.

Time magazine

Some of Morgan’s best moments came in his flirty, sparring banter. When Winfrey bridled (lightly) at the idea that she had used a “stunt” on her Australia trip, Morgan dryly demurred, smiling, “Of course not. I mean, perish the thought.” When Winfrey deflected a question about how much money she had, Morgan asserted, “I bet you know exactly how much you’re worth,” a statement that seemed less aimed at eliciting an answer than sending a message—I’ve got you figured out, you and I both know how these things work—and thus showing the home audience his savvy and worldliness, not a bad goal for a first night.

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By Rodney Ho, rho@ajc.com, AJCRadioTV blog

21 comments Add your comment

Steve

January 18th, 2011
3:04 pm

Peirs will do so much better than that cheeseball larry king. I couldnt and cant stand larry king.

AJC Interlocutor

January 18th, 2011
3:06 pm

Exactly how does one go about gouging 30lbs of mac and cheese? Is it a thrust, thrust, parry, parry type of movement?

Terd Fergesun

January 18th, 2011
3:09 pm

Will keep his ratings around last night for about another month. Then Hannity will widen the gap and once again CNN will play a distant second fiddle to FNC and that’s the way it should be. The bright side is he will beat the heck out of Madcow or Obberbutt or whoever it is on msnbc.

Rodney Ho

January 18th, 2011
3:12 pm

@ajc interlocutor. I meant to write gorging. Thanks for the catch!

Rickster

January 18th, 2011
3:18 pm

While Piers Morgan on his first CNN program last night got a lot of advance hype for getting Oprah Winfrey to admit to gorging on 30 pounds of mac and cheese after “Beloved” failed in 1998.

Rodney… that sentence makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. (At least to me.)

Gerald Atric

January 18th, 2011
3:29 pm

@Terd Fergesun: A couple of things…

1. Learn to spell.

2. “Madcow or Obberbutt”?? Really? That’s the best you can do?

3. If you check the primetime ratings, you’ll see that MSNBC has been beating CNN for some time now.

steve

January 18th, 2011
3:36 pm

Piers appears to have a chip on his shoulder. I didn’t like when he bet Oprah that he would interview Mike Vick before she would. Kinda poor taste in my opinion. His British accent also makes it difficult along his dry humor to connect with him.

hsn

January 18th, 2011
3:40 pm

Rodney, your first sentence is incomplete. Something else must follow that sentence before it ends. While something was happening/happened, something else took place etc.. Get the picture?

Also, “…got a lot of advance hype for getting Oprah Winfrey to admit to gorging…” is incorrect.

The “hype” only “lured” viewers into thinking the show will get O to admit..

hsn

Dave in Marietta

January 18th, 2011
3:53 pm

@Terd: What does this mean? “CNN will play a distant second fiddle to FNC and that’s the way it should be. ” Why is that the way it should be? I have no doubt that Hannity will continue to win his time slot because the sheep have to be fed daily and the tune in and gobble up their spoon fed biased kibble. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There could come a day of great enlightenment when the world sees Fox News for the fraud it really is. Oh who am I kidding, people are too stupid to realize that. And the proof is that they watch Fox.

Pebblebeach

January 18th, 2011
4:16 pm

I really wasn’t impressed with their discussion, Piers seemed to be dooting on her a bit much…I learned absolutely nothing new about Oprah…she seemed as usual full of herself and with that much paper in the bank, she can be just that, full of herself….

I like Oprah, except for the fact that at times when I sat with my soon to be ex-wife and watched some of her shows, my wife invariably would turn to me and all of a sudden I became the topic of the show and faced a barrage of questions from her….

The fact that my soon to be ex-wife would ask some of those question of me made me realise that this wasn’t the woman I needed to spend the rest of my life with and for that I am thankful to Oprah, even though it cost me some paper.

Hopefully Piers will do well going forward….

faux arrogance

January 18th, 2011
4:17 pm

Why is it always the liberal that fall back to calling others “sheep” or “too stupid” , don’t you realize Dave in Marietta that your feces stinks too just like everyones. Why are conservatives “sheep” or stupid” just because you say so? Don’t you even have the gray matter to realize that it doesn’t matter what our politics are? We all follow some sort of political theory and belief system. Please don’t call conservatives names, when we defecate it all smells the same.

Mike Cavendar

January 18th, 2011
4:42 pm

Piers debut: Entertaining:yes, hard-hitting or revealing: No

Terd Fergesun

January 18th, 2011
4:50 pm

Gerald Atric

January 18th, 2011
3:29 pm
@Terd Fergesun: A couple of things…

1. Learn to spell.

2. “Madcow or Obberbutt”?? Really? That’s the best you can do?

3. If you check the primetime ratings, you’ll see that MSNBC has been beating CNN for some time now.

Good comeback Gerald, my spelling was correct except for madcow and obberbutt. It’s a play on words Gerald, geez. And msnbc will fall to third in about 2 months. The way it should be.

Terd Fergesun

January 18th, 2011
4:55 pm

Dave in Marietta

January 18th, 2011
3:53 pm
@Terd: What does this mean? “CNN will play a distant second fiddle to FNC and that’s the way it should be. ” Why is that the way it should be? I have no doubt that Hannity will continue to win his time slot because the sheep have to be fed daily and the tune in and gobble up their spoon fed biased kibble. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There could come a day of great enlightenment when the world sees Fox News for the fraud it really is. Oh who am I kidding, people are too stupid to realize that. And the proof is that they watch Fox.

Dave, your reply is right out of the liberal playbook. Tell you what slapnut, watch FNC tonight, write down all the “lies” and post them tomorrow with your version of the facts. You can’t, you won’t. You will just continue to call FNC names and vilify because you have nothing else. Boo-hoo, you lost last November, get over it. Tell you what, start watching Lifetime 24/7. It will be shows you can understand my little liberal sheep friend.

[...] 2.1 million watch Piers Morgan and Oprah Winfrey go mano a mano on CNNWashington Post (blog)Piers Morgan debuts on CNN with Oprah Winfrey with 2.1 million viewersAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Piers Morgan premiere doubles Larry King averageEntertainment [...]

David

January 18th, 2011
6:08 pm

I thought this was a comment on Piers morgan’s performance,don’t you liberals and right wing loonies get it?

LibelFreeZone

January 18th, 2011
10:58 pm

Piers Morgan has a repugnant history as first a reporter for and then the editor of three notorious British tabloids. I don’t think he’ll EVER be able to wash the stink off himself–nor should he–from being mentored by Rupert Murdoch and Kelvin Mackenzie, both repulsive yellow journalists. Morgan calls himself a serious journalist, yet he spent over a decade lying, exaggerating and printing salacious rumors about the rich and famous at The Sun (1989–94); News of the World (1994–95); and the Daily Mirror (1995–04). Now he’s trotting himself out as a quality but “dangerous” mainstream interviewer when nothing could be farther from the truth. Buh-bye, Morgan. I’ll watch anything but your hideous mug.

[...] 2.1 million watch Piers Morgan and Oprah Winfrey go mano a mano on CNNWashington Post (blog)Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) -Entertainment Weekly -New York Times (blog) -Los Angeles Timesall 891 news [...]

Jon Lester

January 19th, 2011
11:57 pm

I’ve been refusing to watch CNN since Erick Erickson was hired last March, amidst CNN’s attempts to connect with and compete for Fox viewers (at the expense of journalism itself). From what I’m hearing about Piers Morgan and this new show, I will not be moved to watch the network again anytime soon.

Cotten Kandi

January 20th, 2011
10:14 pm

[...] Piers Morgan debuts on CNN with Oprah Winfrey with 2.1 million viewers – Atlanta Journal Const… Piers Morgan on his first CNN program last night got a lot of advance hype for getting Oprah Winfrey to admit to gorging on 30 pounds of mac and cheese after “Beloved” failed in 1998. Did he live up to the hype last night? It was probably a losing … Jan 18, 2011 8:55pm [...]