New York Times blames accent for Piers Morgan’s failure to connect with Americans

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
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CNN’s “Piers Morgan Live” will be soon be dead and the New York Times says the show’s failure can be at least partially be pinned to the British host’s accent.

“Old hands in the television news business suggest that there are two things a presenter cannot have: an accent or a beard,” the New York Times’ David Carr wrote, reporting the news that Piers Morgan’s 9:00 p.m. show was ending. “Mr. Morgan is clean shaven and handsome enough, but there are tells in his speech — the way he says the president’s name for one thing (Ob-AA-ma) — that suggest that he is not from around here.”

“People might point to Simon Cowell as a man with an accent and a penchant for slashing discourse that Americans loved, but Mr. Cowell is dealing with less-than-spontaneous musical performances, not signal events in the American news narrative,” Carr continued. “There was, of course, the counterexample of David Frost, who did important work in news, but Mr. Frost did popular special reports and was not a chronic presence in American living rooms.”

Whatever the reason, Morgan himself attributed his show’s failure to attract viewers to his inability to connect with an American audience.

“Look, I am a British guy debating American cultural issues, 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,” Morgan told the Times.

The admission is smile-inducing, considering Morgan’s fondness for lecturing guests on how they held un-American points of view.

“The idea that you want to stop people like Elton [John] and David [Furnish] or Suze [Orman] and KT from getting married, from getting married in America in the modern era, I just find a bit offensive these days,” he bellowed at a guest who opposed gay marriage, for example. “It’s not fair; it’s not tolerant; it’s not American.”

Morgan’s show debuted on CNN in January 2011. The New York Times reports that Morgan’s last show will likely be in March.

Besides his accent, Carr suggested that Morgan’s recent arrival in America made it difficult for viewers, including himself, to take his strident stances on “significant American events” seriously.

“For a cable news station like CNN, major stories are like oxygen. When something important or scary happens in America, many of us have an immediate reflex to turn on CNN,” Carr wrote. “When I find Mr. Morgan telling me what it all means, I have a similar reflex to dismiss what he is saying. It is difficult for him to speak credibly on significant American events because, after all, he just got here.”

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