The phrase “no talent assclown” entered our vernacular via Mike Judge’s Office Space more than ten years ago. The only problem with the expression is how badly misused it was in the film. Michael Bolton clearly has some talent. He can sing. He possibly cuts his own hair and makes his own shirts, too.
So while “no talent assclown” may not actually describe Michael Bolton terribly well, it really is a perfect descriptor for Piers Morgan, the latest British television “personality” to “grace” the American airwaves. For the uninitiated, Morgan currently hosts an eponymous nightly talk show on CNN that replaced Larry King Live. Before his conversion to chat-show host extraordinaire, Mr. Morgan played the role of a poor man’s Simon Cowell on “America’s Got Talent” and managed to win The Celebrity Apprentice (approval from Donald Trump, what an endorsement!)
Before his rise to ignominy on NBC and now CNN, Morgan edited two tabloid newspapers in the U.K. First Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World (the one that’s now defunct because it was hacking the cell phones of murdered teenagers, dead soldiers, and victims of the al-Qaeda London bombings), and then The Mirror, where the financial pages of the newspaper recommended buying a shares in a company in which he owned stock. He was eventually fired from The Mirror for approving the publication of fake pictures of British troops abusing Iraqi civilians (the paper’s subsequent “Sorry. We Were Hoaxed” headline just didn’t cut the mustard.) I say again: No. Talent. Assclown.
Given Morgan’s inauspicious background in trashy tabloid journalism, it is unsurprising that his attempts to make his show relevant through outbursts of sensationalism seem to stem from a misguided notion that he can somehow channel the zeitgeist of of the American people. His formula for achieving this (at least for political interviews) is pretty straightforward:
(No Republican Can Say or Do Anything Sensible + (I’ll Sound Intelligent If I Try to Point This Out* British People Are Supposed to Be Rude and Snarky)) / Don’t Get Too Far Into Any One Issue In Case I Get Found Out
This usually translates to the following type of exchange:
MORGAN: A lot of people are saying that you hate women/are racist/aren’t conservative enough to be President/are too conservative to be President etc.
INTERVIEWEE: [Gives reasonable explanation of his or her position]
MORGAN: That’s all very well and good, but [re-states original question but way more provocatively]
INTERVIEW: Well, as I just said, [reiterates previous answer, but is visibly irritated]
MORGAN: Okay, moving on [lest I press you further and you say something I don’t understand]
Note to CNN: you want to have a British person host one of your flagship shows so that people think you’re a smart network. I get it. You just shouldn’t have picked someone with this little substance behind them, because no-one will want to watch his tawdry show (in fact, more people read his newspapers than the measly 265,000 who inexplicably tune in to watch him on CNN). And if you simply must have a British host, there are plenty of smart ones to pick from. Try Jeremy Paxman, Jon Snow, or even (if you really want to get people watching) Jeremy Clarkson.