CNN’s Piers Morgan himself became the subject of an animated conversation about celebrity TV journalists at a panel discussion in Hollywood featuring cast members and the producer of “The Newsroom.”
Morgan was not supposed to become a topic of conversation at the event, for which he acted as moderator.
It was a panel discussion held Sunday night under the auspices of the Paley Center for Media.
The panel consisted of the producer/creator of the HBO series about a fictional cable TV news organization — Aaron Sorkin — and cast members Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher Jr., Allison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Olivia Munn and Dev Patel.
Munn was the one who turned the tables on Morgan, according to several accounts of the event, including this one on the Hollywood Reporter Web site.
Apparently, Munn became interested in talking about Morgan because in his line of questioning, Morgan repeatedly referred to his own experiences as a celebrity journalist on TV or, as the THR story put it: “The CNN host brought his line of questioning back to himself and his own experiences in the newsroom throughout the discussion.”
So Munn gave her opinion on that — saying she’d much prefer that TV journalists remain in the background when reporting on the news, so that the news remains the primary focus, and not the journalist’s reaction to it or experience covering it.
“I prefer to see [news personalities such as] Piers Morgan and Diane Sawyer on the news and not on a red carpet,” Munn said. “You turn on CNN, and people are putting themselves in the story … Journalism is about other people’s stories,” she said, exhibiting an impressive grasp of the fundamentals of journalism (fundamentals not grasped by many in the news business these days).
Munn even made reference to a specific example that turned her off — when CNN anchor Don Lemon felt compelled to issue a Tweet about an encounter he had in a hotel lobby with actor Jonah Hill in which Hill was standoffish. This led Lemon to complain about Hill’s demeanor on Twitter, although the actor was certainly under no obligation to be especially welcoming to Don Lemon.
“It’s so obnoxious,” Munn is quoted as saying. “Because he was Jonah Hill, that gives you something fun to tweet about. Then I actually saw it on CNN. I cannot believe, with the things going on in the world, that we’re spending so much time talking about this. Have your opinions on new stories or situations, but to make yourself newsworthy is so egotistical and self-absorbed.”
The THR story said Morgan abruptly changed the subject, rather than reply directly to her concerns. But later, Sorkin asked Morgan why CNN has given short shrift recently to the current fiscal crisis in the federal government known as “the sequester.” Not that Morgan is in any position to speak on behalf of CNN, but he offered his own opinion on that story anyway, describing it as “dreadfully boring” and “dry,” and thereby unfit for coverage by a TV news organization. Whether CNN management agrees with his assessment is anybody’s guess.
Morgan’s been getting it from all sides lately. Just the other day we saw a story on Deadline.com reporting that his nightly CNN talk show “Piers Morgan Tonight” had sunk to new lows in the ratings, at a point in time when a new CNN president — Jeff Zucker — is looking to jettison the network’s weaker performers.
And on Sunday night on NBC, Morgan was seen repeatedly clashing with reality-TV villainess Omarosa on the premiere episode of “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice.” Morgan, a past winner on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” was on the show to act as a guest adviser in the boardroom with boss Donald Trump.