A comprehensive history of Piers Morgan's ratings woes

Watch the author's full analysis of Piers Morgan's ratings on The Wonderful World of Stu

By Dan Andros

CNN officially announced Piers Morgan as the replacement for the legendary Larry King on September 8th, 2010. The next few months on CNN saw a steady barrage of promotion to hype the shakeup, hoping to end what was dubbed a ‘ratings depression’ in the 9pm time slot.

Piers himself said before his program debuted that the ‘only benchmark’ of his success would be whether or not he could lift CNN’s ratings from ‘cellar-dwelling’ status. Well, he’s had 664 shows to get the job done – has he?

Nope, not even close.

A closer look at his entire ratings history leaves no doubt: Piers Morgan has failed and he’s failed spectacularly. You might be saying CNN has been in the ratings gutter for quite some time now and it’s a little unfair to unleash an entire ratings expose on a single host. That’s a completely legitimate argument – but Piers Morgan’s massive ego and unwarranted arrogance nullifies it.

From day one, Piers has made it clear that this is about him and only him. Instead of humbly entering the cable arena, Piers entered guns blazing:

After the months of promotion, Piers did come out of the gate sprinting. He placed 2nd in the demo on his opening night with 521,000 viewers, thanks to debut guest Oprah Winfrey. But Hannity still managed to score 600,000 and win the night with an interview of Sarah Palin. Piers' assessment of the situation was strange, to say the least:

“Without that (Palin interview) we would’ve beaten Fox.”

Ah yes, the old ‘if the other team didn’t score all those touchdowns we totally would have won!’ excuse. Works every time.

On show number two, Stern did indeed score a first place finish for Piers with 551,000 in demo, beating Hannity (506,000) for the night. A good start, but the next few weeks would be a harbinger of things to come. Over the next 27 shows, Piers averaged just 228,000 in demo and that number was inflated by CNN’s breaking news coverage of the Arab Spring during the month of February.

Amazingly, Piers’ ego remained completely intact. On his satellite radio program, Howard Stern recalled running into Piers a few weeks after their interview. Piers asked Howard how ‘my’ interview was and actually made Stern an offer: “you can come on my show once a month” he said. Ironically, the stated purpose was to help boost Stern’s career – not the other way around. Imagine telling the guy responsible for your only number one finish that he needed career help and that you were the one who could provide it. Imagine having a show that loses badly to Hannity and Rachel Maddow night after night - and telling a man who has made hundreds of millions of dollars off of his broadcasting talent that you are going to save his career. It’s madness.

During those first 27 shows, Piers came in 3rd or 4th place (out of 4) 20 times, or 74% of the time. A terrible start by any measure, but unfortunately for Piers and CNN, this would be as good as it gets. Over the next few years, Piers Morgan Tonight would be a consistent 3rd place finisher and whenever a decent made-for-TV trial landed on CNN Headline News, Piers was a guaranteed last place finish.

Earlier this year, during the Jody Arias trial, Piers finished in last place an amazing 24 straight times, covering a period of 5 straight weeks. The only thing that stopped the streak was a miserable 85,000 put up by Headline News on March 29th – but Piers picked up the streak again the following Monday and came in last another 10 straight times. Piers finished last 34 out of 35 nights – and it wasn’t just because he was getting decent numbers and others went through the roof.

He was awful.

He averaged a measly 119,000 viewers in the demo during the stretch, which included some insanely low scores:

93,000

87,000

89,000 (3 times)

78,000

97,000

98,000

The low point was on April 8th with a 68,000 in demo.

To give you an idea of how miserable these numbers are – during that same month of April, Fox News' Red Eye averaged 155,000 in demo. Red Eye airs at 3am ET, when almost the entire country is asleep.

The losing streak finally came to a halt on April 15th, 2013 when the Boston Marathon bombing occurred. Piers scored a rare first place finish, squeaking past Hannity on that tragic Monday as CNN covered the bombings with all of its breaking news team. Later in the week, Piers would be the benefactor of the manhunt for the bombers, scoring two more first place finishes in demo on Thursday and Friday.

This is a trend that seems repeat itself with Piers – so much so that science is considering calling it ‘Piers Law’ – and that is: when Americans suffer, Piers Morgan is having a pretty decent day. When Americans are having a pretty decent day, Piers Morgan ratings suffer.

In late 2012, Piers had placed third (out of four) in 13 of 14 straight shows before tragedy struck – the Sandy Hook massacre. CNN’s breaking news coverage helped lead Piers to another rare first place finish.

Between September 10th, 2012 and November 6th 2012 he placed third or last an astonishing 40 out of 45 times. His only first place finishes came the day Hurricane Sandy hit shore and on election night, which wasn’t even him hosting the program, it was CNN’s election coverage.

In 2011, another abysmal streak of distant 3rd and last place finishes (18 out of 20 shows) was stopped by the Tsunami in Japan, where CNN’s breaking news coverage lifted Piers to a 1st place on Friday March 11th.

When a tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma and devastated an entire town – it lifted Piers Morgan ratings up to #1 on May 20th.

The pattern is clear: very few Americans intentionally watch Piers Morgan.

Sean Hannity averages more than double Piers per night in demo – 476,000 for Hannity and 235,000 for Piers. Maddow also beats Piers with a nightly average of 312,000 in demo.

In his first 664 shows, Piers Morgan has placed 3rd or 4th (out of 4) an astonishing 85% of the time. He most commonly comes in a distant third place (60% of the time) behind Hannity and Maddow and is dead last with 25% of his shows. He occasionally places 2nd (11%) and he only lands in first place a mere 4% of the time.

But even the 4% is misleading. Let’s take a closer look: that 4% is a total of 28 shows out of the 664 he’s aired to date. Of those 28 first place finishes, very few of them are legitimate wins.

To score a ‘legitimate’ win, Piers has to be on the air and so does Hannity. Vacations and guest-hosts don’t count. So here’s the breakdown of his 28 first place finishes:

  • 7 were due to breaking news coverage of natural disasters and tragedies (Tsunami, hurricane Sandy, Tornado in Moore OK, Sandy hook shooting, etc)
  • 3 were not against Hannity (he had fill in hosts those nights)
  • 13 were due to alternate programming (debates, SOTU, inauguration, holiday schedule, etc)

That leaves five legitimate first place finishes.

FIVE out of six hundred and sixty four programs – or 0.8% of the time – Piers Morgan Tonight has been successful.

By his own measure, Piers Morgan has been a ratings failure during his tenure at CNN. There is no refuting the numbers – the only question that remains – is his ego still intact?

If only his ratings were as big as his inflated ego…

Reform Conservatism and Reaganomics: A middle road?

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Senator Marco Rubio broke Republican ranks recently when he criticized the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by stating that “there's no evidence whatsoever that the money's been massively poured back into the American worker." Rubio is wrong on this point, as millions of workers have received major raises, while the corporate tax cuts have led to a spike in capital expenditure (investment on new projects) of 39 percent. However, the Florida senator is revisiting an idea that was front and center in the conservative movement before Donald Trump rode down an escalator in June of 2015: reform conservatism.

RELATED: The problem with asking what has conservatism conserved

The "reformicons," like Rubio, supported moving away from conservative or supply-side orthodoxy and toward policies such as the expansion of the child and earned income tax credits. On the other hand, longstanding conservative economic theory indicates that corporate tax cuts, by lowering disincentives on investment, will lead to long-run economic growth that will end up being much more beneficial to the middle class than tax credits.

But asking people to choose between free market economic orthodoxy and policies guided towards addressing inequality and the concerns of the middle class is a false dichotomy.

Instead of advocating policies that many conservatives might dismiss as redistributionist, reformicons should look at the ways government action hinders economic opportunity and exacerbates income inequality. Changing policies that worsen inequality satisfies limited government conservatives' desire for free markets and reformicons' quest for a more egalitarian America. Furthermore, pushing for market policies that reduce the unequal distribution of wealth would help attract left-leaning people and millennials to small government principles.

Criminal justice reform is an area that reformicons and free marketers should come together around. The drug war has been a disaster, and the burden of this misguided government approach have fallen on impoverished minority communities disproportionately, in the form of mass incarceration and lower social mobility. Not only has the drug war been terrible for these communities, it's proved costly to the taxpayer––well over a trillion dollars has gone into the drug war since its inception, and $80 billion dollars a year goes into mass incarceration.

Prioritizing retraining and rehabilitation instead of overcriminalization would help address inequality, fitting reformicons' goals, and promote a better-trained workforce and lower government spending, appealing to basic conservative preferences.

Government regulations tend to disproportionately hurt small businesses and new or would-be entrepreneurs. In no area is this more egregious than occupational licensing––the practice of requiring a government-issued license to perform a job. The percentage of jobs that require licenses has risen from five percent to 30 percent since 1950. Ostensibly justified by public health concerns, occupational licensing laws have, broadly, been shown to neither promote public health nor improve the quality of service. Instead, they serve to provide a 15 percent wage boost to licensed barbers and florists, while, thanks to the hundreds of hours and expensive fees required to attain the licenses, suppressing low-income entrepreneurship, and costing the economy $200 billion dollars annually.

Those economic losses tend to primarily hurt low-income people who both can't start businesses and have to pay more for essential services. Rolling back occupational licenses will satisfy the business wing's desire for deregulation and a more free market and the reformicons' support for addressing income inequality and increasing opportunity.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality.

Tax expenditures form another opportunity for common ground between the Rubio types and the mainstream. Tax deductions and exclusions, both on the individual and corporate sides of the tax code, remain in place after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Itemized deductions on the individual side disproportionately benefit the wealthy, while corporate tax expenditures help well-connected corporations and sectors, such as the fossil fuel industry.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality. Additionally, a more complicated tax code is less conducive to economic growth than one with lower tax rates and fewer exemptions. Therefore, a simpler tax code with fewer deductions and exclusions would not only create a more level playing field, as the reformicons desire, but also additional economic growth.

A forward-thinking economic program for the Republican Party should marry the best ideas put forward by both supply-siders and reform conservatives. It's possible to take the issues of income inequality and lack of social mobility seriously, while also keeping mainstay conservative economic ideas about the importance of less cumbersome regulations and lower taxes.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate studying economics at Tufts University. He is a contributor for Lone Conservative, and his writing has appeared in Townhall and The Daily Caller. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Is this what inclusivity and tolerance look like? Fox News host Tomi Lahren was at a weekend brunch with her mom in Minnesota when other patrons started yelling obscenities and harassing her. After a confrontation, someone threw a drink at her, the moment captured on video for social media.

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On today's show, Pat and Jeffy talked about this uncomfortable moment and why it shows that supposedly “tolerant" liberals have to resort to physical violence in response to ideas they don't like.

President Donald Trump has done a remarkable job of keeping his campaign promises so far. From pulling the US from the Iran Deal and Paris Climate Accord to moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the president has followed through on his campaign trail vows.

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“It's quite remarkable. I don't know if anybody remembers, but I was the guy who was saying he's not gonna do any of those things," joked Glenn on “The News and Why it Matters," adding, “He has taken massive steps, massive movement or completed each of those promises … I am blown away."

Watch the video above to hear Glenn Beck, Sara Gonzales, Doc Thompson, Stu Burguiere and Pat Gray discuss the story.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar brings white fan onstage to sing with him, but here’s the catch

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for American Express

Rapper Kendrick Lamar asked a fan to come onstage and sing with him, only to condemn her when she failed to censor all of the song's frequent mentions of the “n-word" while singing along.

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“I am so sorry," she apologized when Lamar pointed out that she needed to “bleep" that word. “I'm used to singing it like you wrote it." She was booed at by the crowd of people, many screaming “f*** you" after her mistake.

On Tuesday's show, Pat and Jeffy watched the clip and talked about some of the Twitter reactions.

“This is ridiculous," Pat said. “The situation with this word has become so ludicrous."