Piers Morgan on Recurring Dreams, Celebrity Feuds, and that Pesky Phone Hacking Thing

By Chris Ariens 

There’s a lot to the 4,900-word New York Magazine piece about CNN’s Piers Morgan. There’s the Rupert Murdoch anxiety dreams:

In one, he and Murdoch are walking along the beach in Miami and an enormous wave engulfs them. Just then, Morgan would wake up in a cold sweat.

The phone-hacking scandal:

“I’m not going to respond to every single, individual story. I published about 100,000 stories in eleven years. If anybody has any evidence of illegality, present it.”

And the feuds:

With reality TV co-star Omarosa (“a pathetically untalented grotesque waste of space”) and the ex-Mrs. Paul McCartney, Heather Mills (“an indescribably vile creature with no redeeming features whatsoever”)

And then there’s the story about how the British tabloid newspaper editor got the 9pm timeslot on CNN:

In early 2010, [Morgan’s agent turned manager John] Ferriter started peppering CNN/U.S.’s then-president Jon Klein with links to interviews Morgan had done on ITV1… At the time, Klein was more urgently preoccupied with figuring out what to do with his 8 p.m. slot, where Campbell Brown’s show was dying, and only while on vacation a couple of months later, during a two-hour car ride from Palm Springs to L.A., did he get around to watching Morgan on his iPad… At 10 a.m. on April 23, Morgan and Ferriter met with Klein, then–HLN head Ken Jautz, and two other CNN executives in Klein’s office at the Time Warner Center. It was more of a meet-and-greet than an interview for a particular job. “Piers walked in and blew us through the back of my office,” Klein says. “He owned that room from the moment he walked in. It was the single best interview I’d ever had with any talent.”

The ensuing negotiations were complicated… And CNN was also determined to thoroughly screen the tabloid veteran to ensure he would live up to the network’s standards. Hacking wasn’t yet on the radar, but Morgan’s Fleet Street background, and in particular the circumstances of his firing by the Daily Mirror, were a concern. In the cable-news booking wars, how far would Morgan go to win an interview? CNN executives carefully read Morgan’s books and had several conversations with him. “It was, ‘Hey, you grew up in a tabloid world, do you understand this isn’t an anything-goes environment?’ And he definitely did,” Klein says, “We came away feeling that he understood that we weren’t winking at him.”