CNN Deports Piers Morgan From Its Prime-Time Lineup

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LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07:  Piers Morgan attends his 'Piers Morgan Tonight' CNN launch Party at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on December 7, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Piers Morgan
Photo: Ian Gavan/2010 Getty Images

While the Obama administration said it could not deport Piers Morgan just because 109,334 people signed an online petition, CNN President Jeff Zucker has answered the American people's pleas. While it appears the Brit will be staying in the States for now, Piers Morgan Live is being booted from CNN's prime-time line up. "It’s been a painful period and lately we have taken a bath in the ratings," Morgan told David Carr of the New York Times. (Recently Morgan has had one third as many viewers as competitor Rachel Maddow at MSNBC and one sixth as many as Megyn Kelly at Fox News.) The host said the show has "run its course," and "Jeff and I have been talking for some time about different ways of using me," – though unsurprisingly, sources tell Politico, "the decision to end the show was Zucker's."

Morgan took over for Larry King three years ago, and both he and Carr say his Britishness and his crusade for stricter gun control laws post-Newtown are partly to blame for his departure. At the time, Morgan told Politico his combative January 2013 interview with pro-gun conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was "the smartest booking we've ever made," but he now believes Americans have limited patience for a foreigner who regularly lectures them on gun laws. "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.

Zucker took the reins at CNN a year ago, and has yet to make significant changes to the network's prime-time lineup. Politico notes that the hiring of Nightline anchor Bill Weir in October sparked speculation that he would replace Morgan in the 9 p.m. slot, but the network denied those rumors.

Carr reports Morgan is set to step down "probably in March," and he's in talks with the network about staying on in a different role. "I think I can credibly do news and the ratings reflect that, but it is not really the show that I set out to do," Morgan said. "There are all kinds of people who can do news here. I’d like to do work — interviews with big celebrities and powerful people — that is better suited to what I do well and fit with what Jeff is trying to do with the network."