LOS ANGELES – British journalist Piers Morgan sparred verbally with his CNN predecessor Larry King, after the US veteran criticized Morgan’s talk show technique.
Morgan, who took over in January after King bowed out following 25 years as host of “Larry King Live,” light-heartedly suggested he would have to punch the 77-year-old following his jibes in a BBC interview.
“I have spent the last few months saying following you is like following Sinatra. I couldn’t have paid you higher praise. And you go in my back yard and say I’m… oversold, undangerous,” said Morgan.
King told BBC radio last week he thought Morgan had been “oversold” when he started at CNN, saying: “He’s good, but not that dangerous. I think they might have been better off starting quietly.”
Damning with faint praise, King added: “He’s certainly not bad. He’s certainly an acceptable host. He asks good questions, maybe he interrupts a little too much at times.”
Defending himself on Morgan’s show, King insisted he didn’t think the British host was dangerous.
Morgan replied: “We couldn’t come in and undersell me. I’m following a legend. You can’t follow Sinatra in Vegas and say ‘By the way, I’m not very good, and this is going to be useless.’”
King, deadpanning: “Why can’t you just say: ‘Piers Morgan. I’m coming. Watch me.’ What’s wrong with that?”
After briefly squaring up for a pretend across-the-table punch — King said he had heard that Morgan had suggested he would punch him for the BBC jibe — the British host agreed to change the subject.
But they came back to it at the end of the interview, when Morgan presented King with a pair of suspenders — the CNN veteran’s onscreen trademark — with a Union Jack flag pattern.
The pair then got into another pretend verbal tussle over the fact that “suspenders” in British English are an item of women’s underwear, the British word being “braces.”
“So I’ve been wearing ladies’ underwear all these years?” asked King.
“That’s what the Brits think,” replied Morgan.
“You’re dangerous,” joked King.