You can’t accuse CNN of shilling for its own programming after this segment.
On Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” on CNN, host Howard Kurtz’s assembled panel of David Zurawik, media critic for the Baltimore Sun, Jane Hall of American University and Verne Gay of Newsday, had very little positive to say about the debut of CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” – the show that fills the void “Larry King Live” left in the networks 9 p.m. ET slot.
Zurawik ripped the inauthenticity of his first interview with Oprah Winfrey, who launched her own cable channel earlier this month.
“The Oprah interview was the worst of everything in terms of showbiz, it was like ‘Access Hollywood’ cubed,” he said. “It was just awful. She was selling the OWN Network. She was pumping it. I clocked it at 21 seconds before he started pumping OWN and his payback for telling her where there was a realm where only she and the queen of England belonged, was to say, ‘Ooo, you’re good,’ and CNN aired the clip. So, that was the worst start, but I’m reserving judgment and I want to say, I tracked him for the first few nights — his lowest rating was 1.1 million. That’s what Keith Olbermann left. We’re talking about him like he’s a franchise. So, he did pretty good.”
Hall criticized the show for a question Morgan asked in an interview with Sirius XM host Howard Stern about his sexual prowess.
“You know, there was a time when people announced they were running for president on ‘Larry King,’” Hall said. “Now you know that didn’t happen in the most recent years but, ‘Are you good in bed?’ is the signature first broadcast – you know, I’m not a prude but I hope it gets better than that.”
And even Kurtz, a longtime CNN host and Daily Beast columnist, questioned the format of the new program.
“Is this what CNN needs, a pre-taped one-who interviews with the likes of Ricky Gervais?” Kurtz asked. “To me it felt disconnected from the day’s news because it was done in a studio or hotel room.”
Gay suggested the show was irrelevant to the events of the day.
“It is as disconnected from the day’s news as Venus,” Gay said. “It’s ridiculous. This is a news hour. I think people at CNN were hoping that they would get a real news hour and not Ricky Gervais saying something that he said nine months ago or, you know, the [George] Clooney interview on Friday. He’s a competent interviewer, no question about it but it’s pre-taped. It’s not live and I think the rubber hits the road in live television Howie, as you know. And I agree with David Zurawik, the Oprah interview was absurd, I mean it was absurd. But it got better through the week.”