CNN has given up on trying to make Piers Morgan the new Larry King after a three-year run and will pull the plug on the Briton’s 9 p.m. talk show, which has been finishing far behind rivals Megyn Kelly on Fox News Channel and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.
According to Nielsen ratings from last week, “Piers Morgan Live” was seen nightly by just 270,000 viewers nationwide and only 50,000 people in the key advertising demographic of Americans ages 25 to 54. Ms. Kelly and Ms. Maddow had, respectively, audiences of more than 2 million and 900,000 overall and more than 350,000 and 220,000 in that key 25 to 54 age group.
Mr. Morgan’s much-hyped debut-week audiences were in the 2 million neighborhood.
“CNN confirms that ‘Piers Morgan Live’ is ending. The date of the final program is still to be determined,” CNN spokeswoman Allison Gollust told Politico on Sunday evening after Mr. Morgan himself said his show had “run its course.”
In an interview with David Carr of The New York Times, Mr. Morgan acknowledged that his show had been doing poorly in the ratings, in part because he had turned off many American viewers on such matters as gun control, where he handled gun rights supporters with unconcealed contempt.
“It’s been a painful period and lately we have taken a bath in the ratings,” Mr. Morgan said for a story posted earlier Sunday. “That’s run its course and [CNN President Jeff Zucker] and I have been talking for some time about different ways of using me.”
Conservatives especially took offense at his British-tabloid persona and his overt support for gun control, and they started a petition at the White House’s “We the People” site demanding that the administration “Deport British Citizen Piers Morgan for Attacking 2nd Amendment.”
The petition gathered more than 109,000 signatures and received an official White House response in which press secretary Jay Carney said Second Amendment supporters needed to “Keep the First in Mind Too.”
Mr. Morgan acknowledged this.
“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,” he said.