Accuracy in Media

In an interview with Broadcasting and Cable’s Ben Grossmann CNN host Piers Morgan reinforced the network’s goal to stay in the middle politically.

Do you need to supply more commentary on your show?

Yes, I would like to develop that more. But I don’t want to be partisan, be categorized as left wing or right wing. I’m an interviewer. I don’t want to move too far away from that into punditry, that’s not why I was brought here.

But you know punditry sells on U.S. airwaves.

In the last five, six years, definitely. But before that, what Larry did sold. I think it reaches a point where everyone is screaming so loudly, and I don’t accept that everyone in America, that’s all they want to watch. I don’t have to become an O’Reilly or Beck from an independent position.

What kind of feedback have you gotten from CNN?

They’re thrilled. They just tell me not to forget it’s an intelligent audience. And to remain independent. And being independent right now is a really good thing. Being too far right or left right now is a bit dangerous, given what’s going on in the Middle East. What Americans need is facts.

But don’t television ratings say that is not true? Opinion-driven shows like those on Fox News are on fire.

What I think is that Fox News does better programming. Roger Ailes has done a better job producing compelling television. It can’t be dismissed as right-wing loonies. They have identified an audience and go after it with a passion and a fury and a mad partisan opinion, but it works. I was talking to Rupert Murdoch [at the NBA All-Star Game] and we both agreed, I am not going to get those viewers. And I’m not going to try. Or Rachel Maddow’s viewers.

Morgan also weighed in on Keith Olbermann

Were you surprised Keith Olbermann left MSNBC?

I was surprised, but nothing he does should surprise us. He’s a passionate, opinionated, theatrical, slightly bonkers, great broadcaster. But it’s very good for CNN he’s not still around.

Did you think he made a good move going to Current TV?

I think he’ll do well. What’s he going to do? He’s not going to come to CNN. He’s too partisan, it wouldn’t work. He can’t go to Fox. So where do you go? Better to go to a start-up and make an impact.

Morgan is right that he wasn’t hired to be like O’Reilly or Maddow, but despite CNN’s declaration that they are moving toward the center, he actually stands a better chance attracting some of the MSNBC audience to his show as the two networks are much closer in their political philosophy than they admit.

If CNN had signed Olbermann after his departure from MSNBC, it would have provided a much needed ratings boost for the network. However, they would have had to abandon the muddled middle programming strategy to which they seem wedded to despite being a ratings laggard.

I look forward to Morgan giving us the facts and not punditry, but as B & C’s Grossman said, “punditry sells,” and the lack of such may make Morgan’s stay at CNN a short one.

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