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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Anderson Vs. Piers
Aired January 16, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening welcome to the special edition of 360. I'm excited about a big development happening here beginning Monday night. It's the premiere of Piers Morgan Tonight in this 9:00 time slot.
Piers is kicking off his show which just about the biggest guest possible Oprah Winfrey. Some of you may know Piers as a judge on shows like America's Got Talent or Britain's Got Talent. But he's also had a long career in journalism in his native England.
And he's known for his sharp interviewing style which I experienced first had. We'll have more on that a little bit later. But tonight were devoting this entire hour to a long conversation I had with Piers.
We talk about everything from celebrities to scandals, politics to the Royal Family, including his friendship with Princess Di. Let's begin with his latest career move.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So why on God's earth do you want to do a show on CNN?
PIERS MORGAN: Well, it actually goes back to 1991. I was working a big national newspaper, newsroom in Britain the (INAUDIBLE) to Rupert Murdoch. I was in my early 20's. And I was watching this giant screen like that one behind you there and it was the Iraq war and it was Bernie Shaw and Peter Arnett.
BERNIE SHAW: This tracer by here is going very high in the sky over the hotel.
MORGAN: And they were literally doing the most astonishing television I ever watched with the Scud missiles flying over the head. And the whole newsroom came to a halt. And I realize watching it that the future of journalism was probably through the presence of a TV screen. For the first time.
And the whole CNN thing just seems to be incredibly thrilling. You know the 24 hour rolling news. If it happened, you had to watch CNN. And so to me you'd always thought I spent my life in newspapers. I can see that television through 24 hour news networks like CNN was going to be the future.
COOPER: How will you measure success from your show?
MORGAN: Ratings. And the reason I say that is I you know, I've been brought in at a time when CNN has been going through a very tough time with the ratings with the American audience. And I think I've been brought into to shake up that 9:00 hour and make it I think louder, noisier, more provocative, get some headlines, and get it talked about.
I think that's my remake but above all I've got to get the ratings up because that is what the problem is at CNN right now. Now I will do that I think by maintaining the ethos of CNN. I don't want to be part of the (INAUDIBLE), I don't want to bring my own politics into this.
COOPER: So you see yourself as liberal conservative or do you wear that on your sleeve?
MORGAN: You know what I don't even want to say that, because A) I can't vote here anyways so it's kind of meaningless and B) I really don't want to get pigeonholed once I start this show as a political interviewer who has a bias.
You know, and people say, you know, give me an example of how CNN can be the middle ground and not be partisan but still make a big noise. And I always quote you, actually, from your reporting at Katrina, where I really didn't get a sense that you were bothered if it was a Democrat or Republican administration.
ANDERSON COOPER: You know I got to tell you there are a lot of people here who are very upset and very angry and very frustrated.
MORGAN: What you cared about so passionately and eloquently in your reporting from there was that somebody in an administration running your country was betraying these people and it had to stop.
Now I don't think that is anything but brilliant journalism. I'm not trying to blow smoke at the backside.
COOPER: No, no.
MORGAN: I'm happy to do that but if you enjoy it I can. But I think it's where CNN's at its best is where it can be just a visceral and emotive and passionate as its rivals without sending into partisan political speak.
COOPER: What makes a good interview for you?
MORGAN: I like it when people are surprising not just to me but to everybody else and maybe even themselves.
COOPER: Because you done some really surprising interviews with folks in the UK. I mean Elton John, Simon Cowell, you know, Gordon Brown. I think you made them all cry at one point or another.
MORGAN: Yes, I mean that's something.
COOPER: How do you make Simon Cowell cry?
MORGAN: It's not easy. You have to really push it there.
COOPER: I didn't know you for 60 minutes probably days in a time I didn't give it one little tear.
MORGAN: Well, because I know him very well. I've known Simon 20 years, and I knew that for him probably only time I thought he'll get emotional is he had this freakish day in his life when he had his first big number one hit record with a group called West Life.
And it was the day that his father died, who had always encouraged him through his life. And it was this, as he put it, this horrific day of double emotion. The wonderful excitement of that moment of being number one, and then this terrible crushing moment of ringing his mother to speak to his father to tell him the great news.
COOPER: So you actually do research?
MORGAN: Yes. I'm very -- I know you are not used to this on CNN.
COOPER: And I researched Simon Cowell a lot. No, no I researched Simon Cowell a lot for 60 minutes for my piece, I did not know that moment. If I've known that, I would have used that.
MORGAN: I am sort of a bit of obsessive about research. Well I think because of my journalistic background, I like interviews to engender an emotion in people. Whether its tears, laughter, anger, passion whatever it is it can't be dull emotion. It can't be nothing.
COOPER: You want authenticity?
MORGAN: Yes, I want to find out what they're really like. I interviewed Gordon Brown just before that last election in Britain.
COOPER: Former prime minister of Britain?
MORGAN: The former prime minister of Britain and he was -- I love the way you have to say that in American audience.
COOPER: Filling it in, you know.
MORGAN: President Obama, he's like the president of the United States, yes. So our prime minister at the time. And we had this great encounter over two and a half hours, because everybody thought from his years as the chancellor running the treasury and the money in the country that he was this dour, boring, unemotional, passionless, devoid Vulcan.
And my job...
COOPER: That is the way he sort of seemed.
MORGAN: Yes, people still think that, but actually if you know him like I do, I know underneath all that is an absolute firebrand, passionate, emotional guy. And I was determined to get it out of him. And there were just some incredible moments in that, both talking romantically about how he wooed his wife, which you never seen him discussed that kind of thing before.
And also that terrible sadness of losing a child before she was even 10 or 11 days old and he got very emotional suddenly in a very real way. And it was an extraordinary counter. But for him it was also an extraordinary result.
Because the British public woke up and though wow! This guy is not who we thought he was. And he -- the polls closed about six or seven points on that. He knew he won the election on one interview. Because it was the human face of this guy who we thought was a road bug.
Now that to me is the perfect interview. And I think here really if the politicians or if they're members of the royal family, if they're religious leaders or if they're celebrities they game plan is always the same.
COOPER: Do you think you could make John Boehner cry?
JOHN BOEHNER: That these kids have a shot at the American dream.
MORGAN: You know, I think he needs to get more in touch with his emotional side and I felt this for some time. I mean, it's really funny though, because when I watched that as a Brit, if a British politician did that, weeping about a generic situation about not being able to go to schools to meet kids he doesn't even now, he'd be laughed at in Britain. And yet here I noticed, although the media were scuffing a little bit, the public actually found that kind of emotion quite moving, and they probably like a bit of emotion and passion in their leaders.
COOPER: Well, I think, I personally -- I mean I was surprised like the ladies on "The View" made fun of him. I kind of think you know people want their politicians to be more real and here's a guy who at least is showing real emotions.
MORGAN: I suppose the concern is if you get a huge national event like a 9/11, you don't want to have people who are overly emotional running your country. But I didn't really get that sense from him. I though he was just genuinely a very emotional guy about that kind of thing, about children, the future, the dream that he's living. I think he feels that quite passionately.
COOPER: How much of an interview do you try to prepare? I mean, obviously you do a lot of research, you know, you probably write out questions, how much of it is what you thought about in advanced and how much is just impromptu based on what somebody says?
MORGAN: I like to research very thoroughly. So I would like to know everything about them. I would hate to have a moment with a guest where they really know you don't know about a key aspect of their life because you haven't bothered to find out.
I think as a journalist I see it as an absolute pre-requisite of the job to be very well briefed on them. Having said that, I love spontaneity and I think on television with an interview you can get some of the best moments in television from silence or from a, whoa, what did you say?
Anything that makes it suddenly not look scripted, that makes it go veering off from what the viewer home assumes is a nice cozy setup. I like it when it's going to reveal something really fascinating about the person. It doesn't matter what it is, it doesn't hasn't to be something bad it just got to be something fascinating.
To me there's, there's the seven P's before you sit down and it's my brother's unofficial regimental motto in the Royal Welch in Afghanistan. And it is "prior planning and preparation prevent piss- poor performance."
Which is a great mantra for life. And then there's the three F's for guests. They've got to be fascinating, fun and fabulous. And if they're those, you have a great show. And if you've done the seven P's and you meet the three F's, you've got Emmy winning stuff.
COOPER: Seven P's and three F's?
MORGAN: That's the rule.
COOPER: Sounds good.
MORGAN: You should try it sometime.
COOPER: I bet, I will.
MORGAN: You get lucky today. You didn't get the seven P's but you got the three F's.
COOPER: That is true. After the break Piers talks about Princess Di's naughty side, the queen at McDonald's, and his marriage to Paris Hilton.
COOPER: Was there a prenup?
MORGAN: I can't go into the details.
COOPER: Do you have to take a course on antibiotics after that?
COOPER: Welcome back to this edition of 360 my conversation with Piers Morgan. He had some pointed opinions about celebrities and thinks that one of biggest pop stars of our time is a bore which I disagree with. As you'll see he also has a lot to say about the Royal Family and his friendship with Princess Di.
Who do you think are the most interesting celebrities right now?
MORGAN: Prince William and Kate. Because in the end what the Royals always show in moments like this would be when the young Royals with the wedding is they're the biggest stars in the world.
COOPER: I was amazed at and I hadn't realized this because I'm really not that close of a follower but that we really hadn't heard Kate Middleton speak before. That interview they game was really the first time.
MORGAN: The queen mother always had this wonderful phrase. Which was if you're a member of the Royal Family never complain, never explain and certainly never be heard speaking in public.
MORGAN: And that's why she able to die with an overdraft of four million pounds. Having basically had a drunken lunch every day of her life and no cares they loved her because she was a remarkable lady who had done amazing things for her country without ever speaking in public.
COOPER: Really, she never (INAUDIBLE)?
MORGAN: She never gave an interview.
COOPER: The queen mother didn't?
MORGAN: Never once.
COOPER: And she was beloved but she never gave..?
MORGAN: I met her when she was 100 years old, maybe 99, at Windsor Castle. She's about this high, ferociously smart lady, very quick and had a hilarious conversation with her. I remember as I spoke to her thinking -- I was probably 38, 39, I'd never heard her speak ever.
There's no television clip apart from (INAUDIBLE) news back in the late 50s. But in the war she was so remarkably resilient of such a great public figure to the country that she could have done anything and they would have loved her for it.
COOPER: I went to the -- I covered lady Di funeral as a young reporter when I was at ABC News and then for CNN, I went to cover Charles's wedding to Camille Parke-Bowles. The thing that depressed me about that wedding is from going from the chapel to the party, they took like airport shuttle busses, which to me it was so disappointing. I was expecting like a least someone like even a handsome cab would have been better.
MORGAN: And what's funny (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: I know you did, I was preaching to that.
MORGAN: You know what it is though, is that the British media and I used to be one of these beasts is that they go on and on at the royals so much you can't waste taxpayer's money. They make these ludicrous gestures.
And the worst moment to me came about three months before that when the queen was seen pulling up in her Rolls outside of a McDonald's for some meets the punters protocol. And I remember screaming at the television saying, enough, give the royal family the gold they need to not demean themselves in this manner.
You're going to have a royal family -- and by the way, to the Brits to have one thing over America that you can never do better than us, because you don't have one, a royal family, we should treasure them. Give them the gold, let them eat steak. Not McDonald's.
COOPER: And you knew, you knew Princess Diana?
COOPER: You spoke to her on the phone yes?
MORGAN: Regularly and I'd had lunch -- and I had an amazing lunch with her and Prince William once.
COOPER: What was she like?
MORGAN: She was mesmerizing, charismatic, beautiful, intoxicating. I mean, incredible beauty. Like one of the most beautiful woman I've ever seen in my life. Funny, mischievous, she was unpredictable, Machiavellian.
COOPER: Machiavellian really?
MORGAN: Very. I mean she was the kind of person I mean I'll give you an example. She...
COOPER: Do you think born that way or made that way?
MORGAN: No, I think partly both. She came from quite a damaged upbringing. You know her mother was basically an alcoholic who you know moved away from the kids when they were very young. And I think all those children were quite damaged.
And I that Diana was troubled as a youngster and then you know she was 19 when she married Prince Charles. So at a ridiculously young age to be pushed into this incredible rollercoaster ride of being a Princess.
And the whole world fell in love with her but it made her the biggest star in the world at 19. And I think she found it very difficult to deal with. But she could be naughty. I mean, I remember Camilla Parker-Bowles 50th birthday party, and Prince Charles was doing the big unveiling of his love for Camilla.
And Diana was with Mohammed Al-Fayed shortly before she got together with Dodi Fayed. And I got a call from the boat where they all were saying, will your photographers be on the beach tomorrow morning at 9:00? Which is the morning of the party, I said yeah they will, OK, well make sure they are. Nine o'clock, out she comes in a leopard skin bikini and did half an hour of cartwheels, knowing that every front page of the paper the next day would be "Dear Camilla, Happy Birthday, Love Diana" in this stunning leopard skin dress.
And that was where she could be mischievous and naughty.
COOPER: You've also said you're banning Madonna. Now what do you have against Madonna?
MORGAN: She's boring. There's Lady Gaga now. Everything is cyclical. It'll happen to you, Anderson. There will be a new Anderson in ten years time and I'll ban you as well.
COOPER: I'm boring now, I admit it, I never pretended not to be, but she's not boring. I like Madonna.
MORGAN: No, she's boring. She's too old to do that kind of thing.
COOPER: Oh, come on. Now she's -- I (INAUDIBLE).
MORGAN: And when I saw her striping off down to her undies again at 52, I was like enough. Lady Gaga great. It's the new Madonna with bells, with brains.
COOPER: I met Madonna a couple of times, I think she's really interesting.
MORGAN: I disagree. And she's banned, and that's it, and by the way it's permanent. It's a life ban. There's no way back.
COOPER: OK, you banned her, but you got married to Paris Hilton.
MORGAN: I did.
COOPER: We have a picture of this. Where's the picture?
MORGAN: It cost us $300 and it's all over in 15 minutes. That's my kind of romance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you Piers Morgan take Paris Hilton to be your wedded wife?
MORGAN: I do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you Paris Hilton take Piers Morgan to be your lawfully wedded husband?
PARIS HILTON: I do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I give you this ring.
MORGAN: It's a really big one. I give you this ring.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a symbol.
MORGAN: As a symbol.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of my love and commitment.
MORGAN: Of my love and commitment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I give you this ring.
HILTON: I give you this ring.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a symbol.
HILTON: As a symbol.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of my love and commitment.
HILTON: Of my love and commitment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the powers vested in me by the laws of this state I do now pronounce you husband and wife. Piers you may kiss your wife.
HILTON: Remember Piers what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas but I'm keeping the ring.
COOPERS: Did -- was there a pre-nup?
MORGAN: I can't go into the details.
COOPERS: Did you have to take a course of antibiotics after that?
MORGAN: Because of the dog. (CROSSTALK)
MORGAN: I'd be careful, the little dog was yapping at my heels. No, I was very proud of my union with Paris.
COOPERS: How did that happen come about?
MORGAN: I'm doing a documentary on Las Vegas, and I was trying to illustrate how ridiculously easy and kind of absurd and shallow it is to get married in an Elvis Chapel. So I had Elvis, I had Marilyn Monroe, I had the Rat Pack and the Beatles. Everyone was reforming around us. We went through this farcical kind of ceremony, but she was in the spirit of things. I mean, technically, she's my bride.
COOPER: Did she keep the ring in fact?
COOPER: You used to kind of skewer celebrity a lot, but you seem now more embracing of it -- true?
MORGAN: Well, sort of. I think I kind of poached its own game keeper, so I've gone on the other side of the fence. But I used to have always felt as newspaper editor that a lot of celebrities were whining little prima donnas who want to have their cake and eat it.
And since I've crossed the other side...
COOPER: Now that you're trying to book them.
MORGAN: Not sort of book -- obviously I wouldn't stress that to them in the booking process -- but I certainly am much more attracted to celebrities who don't whine all the time. I think the ordinary members of the public hate a whining celebrity. You got all these amazing things in your life and the only thing you have to put up with that is irritating is your photographer or you know some silly headline. To me, it's just not - in the general scheme of things it's unimportant.
COOPER: Up next, why Piers got punched in the head and a decision he made about covering the Iraq war that led to his very public firing from the Daily Mirror in London.
MORGAN: I remember going back to my apartment on the river side apartment in London with a few very close friends and we got a Chinese meal and we got some fine French wine and I watched my own obituaries on television.
COOPER: Print journalism in England is famous for being a rough and tumble world and not only on the printed page. As I continue my conversation with Piers Morgan he talks about the time he got punched because of photos that he published in the newspaper. He also knows the thrill of being appointed to a major position and the sting of a very public professional downfall. You're only like two years older than me you seem a lot more adult than me.
MORGAN: Well I know. I didn't want to say anything. I mean you know, no that I had to grow up very early. When I was 28 year old Rupert Murdoch made me editor of the news of the world. He was the biggest selling newspaper in the world.
COOPER: I understand the job offer came after you guys were walking down the beach together.
MORGAN: It was pretty surreal. I mean was editing...
COOPER: For a couple of hours?
MORGAN: Yes. I was editing the...
COOPER: What's that like to just stroll down the beach with Rupert?
MORGAN: Well I'll tell you. I was editing the pop (ph) column, the (inaudible) column in the Sun, his big selling London tabloid. I got a call Rupert Murdoch wants to see you tomorrow. OK great. Where? Miami. You're on a plane now.
So I go to the airport Heathrow, fly to Miami and I meet Rupert Murdoch, he says I want to -- let's go to the beach, Miami Beach. So we go to the beach and I'm with the world's most powerful media tycoon. We take our shoes and socks off and we walk up and down Miami Beach in the surf for a couple of hours.
And we talk about life and the universe. And at several stages I'm thinking, what the hell is happening here? Why am I here? Why is he doing this? The end of it we went to a party -- it was when he bought the NFL for Fox.
And they were just having a big party for affiliates of Fox, and he introduced me to a guy called Dave Hill (ph), he set up Fox Sports, a very legendary TV guy. And in the immortal words, this is Piers Morgan, my friend from London, and he's the new editor of the News of the World.
That was the first time I knew what this was all about. Was when he introduced me by my new title that I didn't know I had. And it was surreal. And then the next day, he said right, let's go to New York. Two limousines, flying over the tarmac at Miami International, get on his private jet, Gulfstream 4, and we fly to New York and he fell asleep.
And as he fell asleep. And I sat there and the waitresses saying would you like the coque au vin (ph) or the roast beef? And I said a glass of Chablis. And I was like, I don't think life gets better than this. I don't care if this plane now nose-dives into the Atlantic. I have just landed this biggest newspaper in the world and I can't believe it, I'm 28.
COOPER: You also, you've been punched on your job I understand?
MORGAN: I have, yes.
COOPER: Who punched you?
MORGAN: It was TV presenter called Jeremy Clarkson, he does "Top Gear " (ph), I think he's just come to America, and is a huge show in Britain and he's one of the biggest stars in television. And he took exception to the fact the Daily Mirror published photographs of him in a slightly compromising situation with a woman who wasn't Mrs. Clarkson. And it happened twice over a space of two years.
And we ended up with the British Press Awards. So you can imagine the scene, there's a thousand journalists and photographers in one room from every national newspaper, and in the middle of the room, this guy comes up to me and punches me three times in the head.
But there's still a scar on my head here from where the third one hit with his ring.
COOPER: That's what that scar is?
MORGAN: That's scar is actually from the third punch with his ring gauging out part of my temple there. Well, at that point at least I remember to say something, because I was just thinking how is this playing, other than really badly. And I didn't hit him back because I thought I was going to get fired, which is ironic because three weeks after I got fired anyway. But I didn't hit him back and I actually held my cool. I thought this will all be noted for prosperity. I got to think of something quick.
And so I just said something (inaudible), which was my three year old hits me harder than that. And that gloriously became the envy quote that came out of the whole incident. So I go home with blood streaming from my head, thinking it's the end of my career. I wake up to find I'm a bit of a hero because I came out with this line. But the only good thing was he broke his little finger hitting me. And it's still nulled and disfigured. Every time I see him on television on his huge show, I see this nulled disfigured finger. And it's quietly satisfied.
COOPER: Let me ask you about the toughest times in your career. You're youngest editor of this Rupert Murdoch paper, you were there for what, two or three years?
MORGAN: I was there for under two years, actually.
COOPER: Two years, and then you move to?
MORGAN: The Daily Mirror.
COOPER: The Daily Mirror. MORGAN: I was there for 10 years.
COOPER: Which was a huge paper in Great Britain. What happen to you at the Daily Mirror?
MORGAN: Well, I had a great time for 10 years and then I got fired. And I got fired over a pretty serious issue. It was Abu Ghraib had blown up in America and was all over your media. And was obviously a scandal of pretty epic proportions, and we had had by coincidence for two months some photographs of what appeared to be British troops abusing Iraqi civilians in a similar manner.
And we had a lot of fact checking on this for two months. We found out the guys who were giving them to us were soldiers in a particular regimen who had been in Iraq.
COOPER: You were given the images by soldiers?
MORGAN: By two soldiers, and they were who they said they were and they had been in Iraq and I saw endless photo albums of them there, and I still believe they genuinely believe these pictures were genuine. And they wanted to be paid a couple of thousand dollars by personal check in their own name, their home address.
So they weren't -- if they were hoaxes, they were least sophisticated hoaxes of all time. So I believe that they were sincere in what they were passing to us. But we had a conference about this and we'd been an anti-war newspaper. Not generally anti-war, but anti-Iraq war.
We believe on the Mirror very strongly, and we were a left supporting newspaper.
COOPER: Well, you've been very close to Tony Blair.
MORGAN: Very close, yes.
COOPER: And had multiple meetings with him, conversations with him.
MORGAN: And I'd had 56 one on one meetings with Blair as prime minister, so we were very close. You know, I was the Daily Mirror for all intents and purposes were his newspaper.
COOPER: But you guys broke over the war?
MORGAN: Yes, because I felt it was just unethical, immoral and illegal and I still believe that. The twist for me was my own brother was fighting there and he was in Basra the day we published these pictures.
COOPER: Basra in southeastern Iraq, which is where the British troops were?
MORGAN: Yes. And he was -- he believed then and he believes now we were justified in publishing it. And he certainly believes having inherited the mess from the previous regimen that what we were publishing was the truth.
COOPER: So you still believe that pictures may be real?
MORGAN: I believe the jury's out. I believe at worst they were reproductive pictures of a genuine incident, which is not acceptable journalistically and I wouldn't pretend it is. But I haven't seen the concrete evidence.
No one's produced to me the person who took them, where they took them, or what they really are if they're fakes. And until they do, I won't to apologize. And I don't believe in apologizing to a regimen that frankly had a number of troops in their ranks who were doing despicable things to Iraqi civilians.
COOPER: How do you go -- how do you recover from something like that? I mean, that was a huge story in Britain. These pictures on the front page, you were very publicly fired.
COOPER: For a lot of people, that would be the end.
MORGAN: Yes, but you know, I was 38 years old. I always thought my book would be called the youngest editor ever fired just because I was appointed so ridiculously young. So I was quite phlegmatic, actually. I'd done 10 years. I was probably getting a little bored anyway. I'd done almost every big story. When you've done Princess Diana's death and 9/11 and stories of that magnitude, there's been nothing like it since to even compete with that.
MORGAN: And everyone was waiting for me to sort of crash down and feel humiliated and downtrodden and it's over. So actually, I remember going back to my apartment, on a riverside apartment in London, with a few very close friends, and we got a Chinese meal and we got some fine French wine, and I watched my own obituaries on television. I was quite impressed by...
COOPER: You actually watched people criticizing you on television?
MORGAN: Yes. Yes. I was the first 10 minutes on both of the main evening news (INAUDIBLE)
COOPER: And you watched it.
MORGAN: Yes, I loved it. I was laughing because I was watching people I knew hated me trying to pretend they were sorry I'd been fired. I loved that.
MORGAN: It was wonderful -- I'm so sorry he's gone. You're, like, No, you're not, you little -- but actually,I -- what I felt was that I would be vindicated one day. I felt -- I knew in my gut that these pictures depicted the truth, that certain British troops, a tiny percentage, as with Abu Ghraib, had severely let down not only their regiment but the British armed forces and their country. And I felt very proud not just of exposing that. We exposed many more revelations on that story over the two weeks before I got fired, which were not counted at all.
COOPER: Up next, what Piers really thinks about Americans. Plus, his take on the differences and similarities between us and the British.
MORGAN: Americans look to Britain for this great sort of bastion of decency and politeness.
COOPER: It's so not!
MORGAN: And it's completely the opposite. Americans are much more polite than Brits these days.
MORGAN: I mean, much more.
COOPER: Welcome back to my conversation with Piers Morgan, whose new program, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT," premieres Monday night, 9:00, right here on CNN. Traveling between two cultures, he has a pretty unique perspective on the differences between Brits and Americans. I also wanted to know how a serious journalist became a judge on talent shows.
COOPER: I don't know if you saw Jon Stewart when he was recently on CNN. I want to play something he said.
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": And by the way, I think they've made a brilliant choice by bringing in a British guy no one's heard of.
STEWART: I think that is -- when I'm thinking about floating a sinking ship, what do I want to bring on it? A guy that people are going to tune in and go, Who's that? And why is he speaking so funny?
COOPER: What did you think when you heard that? MORGAN: Oh, I just heard it last night. David Letterman did the same thing, basically saying, This is some guy we've never heard of. And I was, like, OK, guys. I mean, you're clearly at the cutting edge of popular culture. "America's Got Talent" has been number one for five years. You've never heard of me. Get with it!
COOPER: You're very well known in England for your interview shows and for your journalism, not so much here. I mean, here you're known as being...
MORGAN: Judging piano-playing pigs.
MORGAN: Not the best criteria for a CNN front man. I get that. But...
COOPER: Was there a piano-playing pig?
MORGAN: I've judged 11 pigs now in "Britain's Got Talent" and "America's Got Talent." So when a pig comes up now, I'm, like, OK, I'm your man. I'm the pig guy. I've seen 11 of you guys. I mean, it -- you know...
COOPER: First of all, how did you become a judge on talent shows? Because I'm not saying you don't have any talent, but I take it you don't sing.
MORGAN: I don't sing.
COOPER: Do you dance?
MORGAN: I don't dance.
COOPER: At least not publicly?
MORGAN: Well, no, I do sing and I do dance...
COOPER: But not publicly.
MORGAN: ... but not to a level I'd be comfortable judging myself.
COOPER: OK. So how did you get to be a judge?
MORGAN: Simon Cowell. I mean, he recognized, actually, quite an interesting thing. If you're a newspaper editor, particularly of a big British tabloid daily newspaper, where it's all pressure, a big cauldron every day, you're in a ferocious catfight with the other papers, you've basically got to be pretty quick-witted because you're making hundreds of decisions all day. You got to have a sense of humor because it gets pretty dark in there... COOPER: Right.
MORGAN: ... and you've got to have levity. You've got to be able, I think, to spot talent and to nurture it because you're always looking to promote a hot new thing in your newspaper, and be right about it, so you don't back a turkey. And I think you've got to be very judgmental and very opinionated.
Now, you put all those things together, then you actually have a talent show judge. Or at least, that's my excuse!
COOPER: You have written eight books, right?
COOPER: A number of them best sellers.
MORGAN: Some are pretty awful.
COOPER: Some are pretty awful?
MORGAN: Some are pretty awful. Some are great. "The Insider" is a great book. And the last one, "God Bless America," is pretty good, too.
COOPER: But your last book was about experiences in the United States.
MORGAN: Yes, well, it was a diary of my -- of two years here during the process of your election...
MORGAN: ... with the election of Barack Obama, which I -- you know, as a Brit coming here for a few months of the year, watching his assent to power was a quite extraordinary story.
MORGAN: And I wanted to record it and to record my genuine feelings as it all unfolds.
COOPER: What do you think the biggest differences between America and the U.K. are?
MORGAN: I think that -- it's interesting. What I was saying earlier about the humor difference plays a different way, as well. You know, we might mock the Americans for not having the irony and sarcasm that we pride ourselves on, but you don't have the cynicism as a country, either. I find Americans, they're just more positive. And they're more accepting and encouraging of success.
Now, your class system is not based around where you were born or what school you went to. Your class system is based around achievement, hard work and success.
COOPER: And in England, that class system is still very prevalent.
MORGAN: Very prevalent and...
COOPER: What family you were born to and...
MORGAN: And also, there's a real cynicism, which, you know, to a certain degree is quite healthy, toward success. If you're successful in Britain and you buy a nice car -- you know, if I drive a nice car around London, you'll get people who will genuinely want to scratch it and they'll want to spit on you and they'll want to feel envious and resentful. If you drive, as I did in the summer, an Aston Martin around Beverly Hills for three months -- I had about four or five people on different occasions literally saying to me, Hey, nice wheels. They were pleased for me.
COOPER: You rented an Aston Martin for three months?
MORGAN: Well, they gave me one, actually.
COOPER: Oh, really? That's nice.
MORGAN: Yes, very nice of them. Yes.
COOPER: Wow. I hope that wasn't CNN who gave you...
MORGAN: It wasn't CNN. No, definitely not. Don't worry. Relax. Apparently, most of the money goes your way, of course, right?
MORGAN: But we can soon change that, can't we!
MORGAN: I think Aston Martin saw me as the James Bond figure they've been looking for since the end of Sean Connery.
COOPER: I'm lucky if I get one of those navigator things in my rental car.
MORGAN: What's this castle you just bought in Manhattan?
COOPER: Castle? A firehouse!
MORGAN: A firehouse. They're always small, aren't they? Have you got a giant pole in there?
(LAUGHTER) COOPER: I have -- yes, I have a pole on every floor, as a matter of fact. Actually, I have four poles on every floor, but I'm reducing...
MORGAN: I've heard the rumors, yes.
COOPER: Yes, I'm no Milton Berle, but I did OK. Have you had to change yourself in order to kind of fit with an American audience? I mean, there's huge, obviously, differences between Britain and the United States.
MORGAN: People always say this. I'm not so sure there are, actually. I think there are slight humor differences, but it really depends where you are in America. If you're in New York, it's very similar kind of humor to the stuff I get in Britain. It's very sarcastic. People send each other up. You know, it's much more like that. LA isn't like that at all. They'll take you more literally. And when you get down to Dallas or Austin or Seattle (INAUDIBLE), it's very different again.
What I've learned is you have to work out a patter, perhaps, to your humor that can appeal to the whole of America. And that does limit the way you go. If you're a Brit, it particularly limits all the sarcasm because, you know, I might be as sarcastic as I normally am, and to a large swathe (ph) of the audience, it'll go straight over their heads. Now, I don't think...
COOPER: We actually say swath.
MORGAN: I am suave, but it's, like, mingled together. But I think you see that. You have to work it out. And over give years of "America's Got Talent," touring America, I've slowly worked out a kind of route 1 humor valve...
MORGAN: ... which normally works.
COOPER: Because the thing that always surprises me about England and London is, you know, I think Americans, and myself included, always have this idea about it being this incredibly elegant place, this place of -- you know, I mean, not to be totally ridiculous, but you know, folks walking around, nicely dressed in bowler hats and stuff...
MORGAN: Charles Dickens, Victorian.
COOPER: Something like that. Every time I go over there -- and I was over there a couple weekends ago to interview Lady Gaga...
MORGAN: You get stabbed and shot at.
COOPER: No, I'm walking out on -- say I leave my hotel to try to find some place to eat, and I go out and I leave the restaurant and it's 11:00 o'clock at night and the pubs have just closed. And the amount of people just come pouring into the street, urinating and vomiting, is extraordinary.
MORGAN: It's repulsive.
COOPER: It's totally repulsive!
MORGAN: No, no. I'm with you.
COOPER: It's so not elegant!
MORGAN: I'm with you. And it's very interesting to me that Americans look to Britain for this great sort of bastion of decency and politeness.
COOPER: It's so not!
MORGAN: And it's completely the opposite. Americans are much more polite than Brits these days.
MORGAN: I mean, much more.
COOPER: Up next, Piers develops Twitter fever. He also makes fun of my clothes. Back in a moment.
COOPER: Continuing the conversation with Piers Morgan, I discovered that he hated Twitter until he started tweeting. He also talks about a nasty accident he had while riding a Segway. And the day of our interview, he dissed my clothes. Take a look.
COOPER: I understand, though, you don't like casual Fridays.
MORGAN: I don't get it.
COOPER: And you feel that...
MORGAN: Well, look at you, for goodness sake!
COOPER: ... around here, there's a lot of people who do casual Fridays.
MORGAN: Well, you're wearing an immaculate suit, and then you've got the jeans and white socks!
COOPER: Well, I'll tell you, I...
MORGAN: I mean, white socks is like...
COOPER: I know...
COOPER: To be honest, I didn't know we were -- I thought we were shooting at a desk, so I didn't think we -- we were going to be...
MORGAN: Whatever the excuse.
COOPER: Which is why I don't like being on a three-shot right now, which we were just on.
MORGAN: I think we should be on a three-shot.
MORGAN: To embarrass you.
COOPER: I know.
MORGAN: I mean, my grandmother had three sayings, right?
COOPER: I know.
MORGAN: She said there are three important things in life.
COOPER: I know.
MORGAN: Never trust anyone who can't pronounce the letter "R," who has a large number of keys jangling from his hip pocket, or who wears white socks and black shoes.
COOPER: Yes. Well, the white socks, I will tell you honestly, because I'm at the end of a laundry cycle, and I have -- it's true.
MORGAN: Anderson, this sounds pathetic.
COOPER: It's true. I have a limited number of black socks.
MORGAN: It's humiliating and pathetic. And you're trying to dig yourself out of an ever-bigger hole.
COOPER: Which is why I don't...
COOPER: ... I don't think we should be doing three-shots because I think...
MORGAN: I think we should!
MORGAN: The public should see this sartorial fashion icon.
COOPER: You're wearing European pointy shoes, though.
COOPER: I'm wearing Prada.
COOPER: I don't -- well...
COOPER: ... those pointy shoes...
MORGAN: Well, at least I'm wearing black shoes.
COOPER: Little French Louis XIV pointy shoes.
COOPER: I just -- that's what they always remind me of. But I digress. Have you figured out how to ride a Segway yet? Because we have some video.
MORGAN: Oh, no! You haven't got the video, have you?
COOPER: Yes. Of course we (INAUDIBLE)
MORGAN: Oh, no! This is so humiliating.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... behind you and I'll videotape you.
MORGAN: Yes, it wasn't nice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get back! Get back!
MORGAN: You're repeating it. Nice. Oh, and a third time! That was one of the most popular videos in British history.
COOPER: Now, you actually injured yourself here.
MORGAN: Well, here's the background. I know you must know this.
COOPER: Oh, I know all about it.
MORGAN: So when I was editor of "The Daily Mirror"...
MORGAN: ... President Bush, W. Bush, fell off a Segway.
COOPER: Right. And you made fun of him.
MORGAN: We did a headline something like, "Only a complete idiot would fall off one of these, wouldn't they, Mr. President?" And we ran the pictures, which came from a video of him falling off.
MORGAN: And then it cut forward a few years, and I'm on Santa Monica Boulevard, and then this idiot friend of mine says, Let's get these Segways out. And I instinctively thought, There's karma here because I remembered the Bush thing.
MORGAN: And we got on these things, and as you saw, I fell off. Now, that looks bad. I broke five ribs and collapsed a lung.
COOPER: From that?
MORGAN: Yes, nearly killed me!
MORGAN: It was awful. And the worst thing was, it was four days before -- there we go!
MORGAN: My friend is actually saying on the video, This is going to be better than sex...
MORGAN: ... at which point, I fell over.
COOPER: So literally, were you taken to the hospital from here?
MORGAN: I could barely move and I couldn't breathe because I'd punctured my lung. And it was five clean fractures.
COOPER: Oh, my God!
MORGAN: And I had to do the -- the final of "America's Got Talent" was four days later, and I was literally -- I couldn't breathe or walk or talk, which some would say would have improved my performance as a judge.
MORGAN: So I'm in this chaotic state and I'm saying, I can't make it. And I had this wonderful 78-year-old nurse called Corrine (ph), and she said to me, Darling, you're in Los Angeles. The show must go on! I was, like, Not on my back, you're not. And then Simon Cowell rang and he knew exactly how to get me out of bed. And he just said, Really, don't worry about it. We've got Louie Walsh (ph), who's a judge on "X Factor" in Britain. And he's desperate to get my slot. We've got Louie on standby. He can be there tomorrow. (INAUDIBLE) greyhound on speed (INAUDIBLE) It was, like, straight out of that bed.
But I was led in like a mummy, like, strapped in with all this strapping. And I could barely move or breathe or talk. And I said, I can't say anything. So if I just sit there like it's a mummy from Egyptian times -- and then David Hasselhoff insisted on singing live and he sang "A Perfect Moment" or (INAUDIBLE) It was, like, "This is the moment" -- and it was so awful that I said to the producers, You've got to let me say something.
So Jerry Springer, who was the host at the time said, Piers, we understand you want to say something. I said, I do. I said, I just want to say I didn't think anything could be more painful than breaking five ribs, but David, you just did it!
COOPER: I rode a Segway around, actually, in these halls here, and it's -- it's hard.
MORGAN: Whatever, whatever. They're trickier than they look.
COOPER: They're trickier than they look. Yes.
MORGAN: It was bloody painful, I'll tell you.
COOPER: You also have been very down on Twitter for years.
MORGAN: Until I joined it.
COOPER: Until you joined it a few weeks ago.
MORGAN: Two weeks ago, yes.
COOPER: In fact -- wait, where was it -- let me just (INAUDIBLE) You called Twitter "A pointless and vacuous forum of gormless twits to tweet to other twits." What is a gormless twit?
MORGAN: It's a particularly stupid person...
MORGAN: ... who uses Twitter. But of course, I made that assessment before I was on it myself.
COOPER: Right. And now you love it.
MORGAN: Well, by joining it, I've raised the tone. It ceases to be gormless.
MORGAN: So the bar's been raised.
COOPER: The bar has been raised.
MORGAN: To a level where I feel comfortable. COOPER: Now why do you like -- do you like to tweet?
MORGAN: I got Twitter wrong. I actually thought Twitter really was for twits, and the people that I was sort of looking at who were on it, I thought -- they were tweeting such nonsensical trivial detail of their boring mundane little lives.
COOPER: Well, I got to say, I read one of your twits the other day. You were talking about eating a steak in some restaurant, and I thought to myself...
MORGAN: Yes, but it was a great steak.
COOPER: ... Who cares?
MORGAN: Well, you're reading it!
COOPER: I know.
MORGAN: You must have been.
COOPER: Well, I don't know how it got on my BlackBerry, and then I was reading it and...
MORGAN: Fact is, you read about me eating a steak.
COOPER: Right. Of course, that was while, literally, I'm eating a McDonald's hamburger. And I'm thinking, Why aren't I in a fancy restaurant eating steak?
MORGAN: What I love about Twitter, actually, is it can be totally inconsequential and the detail can be pointless.
MORGAN: But you are having this sort of real, constant, in real- time...
MORGAN: ... debate with the world.
COOPER: And you have crazy people who are tweeting you back?
MORGAN: Oh, I get unbelievable abuse.
COOPER: Because that's very nice (ph).
MORGAN: I love the abuse, though. I find it funny. I retweet most of the best abuse...
COOPER: Oh, really? MORGAN: ... because I find it funny. Yes, I think it's one of the things you have to take in the job.
MORGAN: But actually, a -- having been a newspaper editor, where you're public enemy number one most of the time, I actually am used to it and I like it.
MORGAN: embrace it. I get -- I wake up and I see a lot of phony platitudes, I'm really disappointed. I like people to come on and just go, Morgan, you're such a half-wit. What's your talent? And I said, Nothing. I don't have one.
MORGAN: (INAUDIBLE) how much angrier you now feel. I don't have one. Really gets to them!
COOPER: Up next, Piers and I switch roles. He interviews me. And quite frankly, some of his questions caught me off guard.
MORGAN: What's been the greatest movement your life, the one you'd relive again before you die?
MORGAN: The single moment.
COOPER: Wow, let me think about that.
COOPER: Over the course of his long journalism career, Piers Morgan has developed his own style of interviewing people, and I got a taste of it firsthand. During his conversation, he asked me some probing questions about my professional life and personal life.
MORGAN: So Anderson, obviously, you're the poster boy for CNN.
COOPER: Is that right?
MORGAN: Well, so you told me.
COOPER: It does say that on my business card.
MORGAN: I was curious, though, before I was sort of planning, you know, my own assault on the 9:00 PM slot, they said to me, you've got to watch one of Anderson's shows, which I did a couple of weeks ago. And I sat down ready to watch this guy that I knew from Katrina, and you know, Haiti and probably the most respected news journalist in the world.
COOPER: I don't know about that.
MORGAN: And I turned on my screen and my (INAUDIBLE) horrified because you appeared to be wearing a giant rabbit outfit and trying to chuck bananas at randy gorillas.
COOPER: Yes. I was in a bunny costume because the apes told me to.
MORGAN: You can understand why for me this was a bit confusing.
COOPER: Yes, it was probably a little bit of a shock, and you probably had some second thoughts about coming to CNN.
MORGAN: Well, I had to ring the suits, as Larry calls them, and say, Have I joined the right network?
MORGAN: I've made a terrible mistake here.
COOPER: Yes, you thought it was one of the public access shows in the United States, sort of, like, after midnight, yes.
MORGAN: To me, your greatest moment was the Katrina period, when I think you came of your own there. Is that your greatest moment as a journalist? I don't mean great in the sense of lauding yourself, but...
MORGAN: ... the moment you felt was most significant to your career and...
COOPER: Yes, I'd say it's probably the moment when I sort of understood the job better than I ever have before. I mean, I'd spent a lot of time overseas. I've been in the, you know, genocide in Rwanda and I'd been to a lot of places where terrible things were happening. But to be in a position where you're sort of ahead of relief workers, ahead of the response, and have the ability to actually talk to politicians who are in charge of this stuff who are saying things which are not true -- that was the first time I felt, you know, when I'm in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.
Probably the only other time I've really felt that was in Haiti. This is downtown Port-au-Prince, just a few blocks from the presidential palace...
-- being sort of in the first -- the first team on the ground and really seeing things and being able to see things that are not going right and call them out and try to get them to change.
MORGAN: How much pressure do you feel to keep honest yourself?
COOPER: How do you mean?
MORGAN: Well, you must be almost saint-like now, I mean, because you can't be dishonest at all. All of us lie at least 10 times a day. You can't. You can't even go into a restaurant and say anything wrong. You have to be completely honest.
COOPER: Well, I've just stopped talking to people (INAUDIBLE) I don't have to say anything one way or the over. But you know, on the program, I mean, I really do feel a responsibility to be equally tough on liberals, as well as conservatives, Republicans as well as Democrats.
You know, I think, right now, there's this -- it's very easy to have a show which is a liberal show or a conservative show and to, you know, shove your opinion down somebody's throat. I'm not somebody of strong political opinions. I really do believe there's a role for not taking sides, but being -- the only side being siding with the viewer and siding with facts. And that's what I'm, you know -- you know, very dogmatic about.
MORGAN: What's been the greatest moment of your life, the one you'd relive again before you die?
MORGAN: The single moment.
COOPER: Wow. Let me think about that. Honestly, professionally, I'd say the greatest moment was -- and this is going to sound weird, but was being in Haiti that first week after the earthquake because I think there's nothing worse than seeing people who have lived good and decent lives dying, be crushed, and you know, their bodies put away into dump trucks and literally dumped onto the side of the road. And no one knows their name. No one even knows their passing. And no one knows what will ever happen to them. And to be in a position where you could try to help people and actually call out those who are doing that kind of stuff and try to make a difference, to me professionally, that was the moment when I felt, I'm -- I'm -- this is exactly what I want to be doing with my life.
And personally, the greatest moment -- you know, I mean, I think for -- I think for -- you know, I lost my dad when I was 10, and I think for anyone who -- for any kid who, you know, loses a parent at an early age, I think, you know, it's -- it is transformative. It changes I think the person I was meant to be. I think the person I am now is very different than the person I was meant to be before my dad died.
So you know, if I could relive any moment, it would probably be, you know, some -- some of the few memories that I have of him when we were all together as a family and just, you know, hanging out and watching TV. And as a kid, I used to watch TV and lay my head on his stomach. And I remember, like, listening to him breathe while I was watching TV. So I -- I think it would be something like that.
COOPER: The premiere of "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" this coming Monday, January 17, 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific right here on CNN. Piers's first guest, Oprah Winfrey, who just unveiled her new TV network, OWN.