Three years after taking over Larry King's 9 p.m. time slot at CNN, Piers Morgan will part ways with the cable news channel. CNN announced Sunday that Piers Morgan Live, whose viewership hovers around 600,000, will come to an end.
Morgan had been in discussions with CNN president Jeff Zucker about the low ratings and Morgan's inability to connect with American audiences. In an interview with The New York Times, the CNN host cited his British heritage as one reason for his failure to engage with viewers and build a larger following. "I am a British guy debating American cultural issues," he said, "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."
Among the other cultural issues that have proved problematic for Morgan are those involving LGBT people. This month he came under fire for his insensitive on-air treatment of transgender advocate Janet Mock, in which he used Mock's old name and stated, "You used to be, yourself, a man." Throughout Mock's appearance, a description that appeared on the screen read, "Was a boy until age 18." In response to viewer backlash, Morgan invited Mock back to his program the following evening, ostensibly to clarify statements from the previous night. Instead, he challenged her to defend the title of a 2011 article in Marie Claire, "I Was Born a Boy." Mock asserted that she was not the author of the piece and expressed its problematic aspects, which she previously outlined in her book Redefining Realness.
In 2012, Morgan praised actor Kirk Cameron after Cameron expressed antigay views in an interview on Piers Morgan Live. Of homosexuality, Cameron told Morgan, "I think that it's unnatural. I think that it's detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization." Morgan, when asked whether Cameron's views were outdated, replied, "I think he was pretty brave to say what he said," although Morgan also said he could see why LGBT advocates were upset by the actor's remarks.
The 9 p.m. time slot pits Morgan against Rachel Maddow, who has been gaining in the ratings race, perhaps at Morgan's expense. CNN could pull the plug on Morgan's show as early as March.