Filling the tall shoes of Larry King at CNN was probably not what Piers Morgan had in mind after decades as a print journalist fighting the tabloid wars of London’s Fleet Street.
After the Congressional Correspondents Dinner, CNN’s President Jim Walton and Washington Bureau Chief David Bohrman threw Morgan a birthday celebration at the newly opened Lincoln restaurant, celebrating his ratings success and 46th birthday, complete with birthday cake and CNN-adorned cupcakes.
Known primarily for his role as a judge on NBC’s No.1-rated America’s Got Talent and as the winner of NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice, Morgan has had a long career in journalism in Great Britain as a newspaper editor and, more recently, as host of CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight and the interview program Piers Morgan’s Life Stories.
“It’s been a tremendous amount of fun this show,” said Morgan, who was accompanied by his assistants Meghan McPartland and Julie Zann. “I do think that coming from a print background that the show has allowed me to ask better, more penetrating questions.”
One of his most frequent guests has been Donald Trump. “I’ve certainly seen what it does for his ratings to say ‘I may run,’” Morgan said. Then he joked, “I’m thinking of flirting with the presidency myself…and I’m not even American.”
One person you will not see on his show is Madonna, an irritant to some of the biggest talk show hosts for her outlandish behavior, and bleeping language. “She’s kind of been an irritant in my life for 20 years,” he told Washington Life’s Janet Donovan back in January at an event for former British Prime Minister David Brown at The Jefferson Hotel. “So I had to ban her from the show. It’s probably quite childish, but it made me feel better.”
The two people at CNN who placed their bet on him and were responsible for hiring Morgan as King’s replacement were also there, CNN Worldwide President Jim Walton and Executive Vice President for News Programming, Ken Jautz.
At the event, attendees at the party marveled at Morgan’s penetrating interview style and gift for unearthing the surprising detail to to CNN viewers. “He’s one of the best in the business,” said ABC7/News Channel 8 anchor Rebecca Cooper, who got her start at CNN. “All of us here tonight are his biggest fans.”
Other CNN correspondents who made an appearance included Chief Congressional Correspondent Joe Johns, Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger, and National Desk reporter Suzanne Malveaux.
Morgan began his career as a reporter for The Wimbledon News in the London suburbs and then as a columnist at The Sun in London. In 1994, when he was 28, Rupert Murdoch appointed him the youngest ever editor of the News of the World, and the youngest national newspaper editor in Britain in 50 years.
Two years later he moved to the Daily Mirror, where he served as editor-in-chief from 1995 until 2004. The paper won numerous journalistic awards including Newspaper of the Year at the prestigious British Press Awards in 2002 for its coverage of 9/11.
After his controversial departure from the Mirror, Morgan went on to become a best-selling author, a regular media columnist, and host of his own interview programs on the BBC and ITV, as well as appear as a judge alongside Simon Cowell on Britain’s Got Talent.
After leaving the Daily Mirror, Morgan began writing a monthly interview column for GQ magazine where he interviewed some of the biggest names in politics and entertainment. He has written nine books in his 46 years, including the acclaimed, “Don’t You Know Who I Am?”
In 2004, he moved into television, co-hosting a current affairs show, Morgan & Platell, and two BBC interview shows, Tabloid Tales and You Can’t Fire Me, I’m Famous. Three years ago Morgan joined ITV, where he hosted a documentary travelogue show called Piers On…, reporting from cities including Shanghai, Las Vegas and Dubai.
He also developed a new talk show, Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, where he conducts one-on-one intimate and lengthy sit-down interviews with celebrities, business and political leaders. It has been the No. 1-rated talk show in Britain since 2009.
After Larry King’s retirement in January, Morgan joined CNN with a candid, in-depth newsmaker interview program on the network called “Piers Morgan Tonight,” with Sharon Osborne as his first guest. The program airs weeknights on CNN in the United States at 9 pm and also airs worldwide on CNN International in 200 countries.
“I actually get goose bumps every time I go on this show,” he said.
IN THE ROOM: Julie Zann, Nathan Payne, Edie Emery, Evan Glass, Andrew Shortell, Will Tabler, Sara Devine, Amy Argetsinger, Matt Dornic, Artur Orkisz, Peter Nonis, Kate Parrot, Janelle Rodriguez, Emily Miller, Suzanne Malveaux, Jim Stellmach, Allison Reid, Josh Leahy, Lisa Thompson, Larry Shaugnessy, Carrie Port, Brian Rokus, Matt Hoye.