In welcoming the guests, Morgan shared a remarkable (if it’s true) story about an encounter he had with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly at a recent New York Knicks game.
Morgan and O’Reilly were in the VIP suite, and having never met the FNC host, Morgan naturally wanted to say hello.
“Obvisouly I marched up, expecting him to shower me with praise about this glorious resurrection of CNN, and he comes up to me and goes, ‘ah, yea, I know you,’” Morgan recalled.
“So I shuffled off meekly,” Morgan said. “Not only is he #1 but he is intimidating, he sort of shooed me away.”
It was Morgan, however, who would get the last laugh a few minutes later, when O’Reilly returned with his teenage daughter:
“He has to walk even more sheepishly to me, and say ‘Ok, my daughter is an ‘America’s Got Talent’ Fan is there any way I can get a picture of you with my daughter?”
To which Morgan replied: “Of course Bill! nothing would give me more pleasure!”
While O’Reilly was snapping photos, Morgan says a security guard in the VIP suite blocked the camera, saying “sir, we need to safeguard the privacy of our celebrities”
Morgan says he responded by, of course, inviting O’Reilly on his CNN show. Why? “A: it will be good for your celebrity status, and B, your daughter is going to love you for it.”
Morgan says he first shared the O’Reilly story last week when he was out to drinks with his former boss, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch.
“People always ask me, was it more fun working for him or against him?” Morgan said. “The honest answer is that it was more fun working against him. Winding up Rupert was hilariously good fun.”
Murdoch, for his part, told Morgan he had no intention of appearing on his show, but nonetheless gave him some parting words:
“I wish you good luck, but I do not wish you success.”
TVNewser spoke to Morgan later in the evening. He told us that as the show goes forward, he expects to have at least one political figure a week. That having been said, his show has to generate ratings, and political figures are not always the best ratings draws.
He also said they may resurrect the live audience that he had on his UK interview show “Life Stories,” noting that his new studio has the room for it. Of course, a live audience would not a be a regular occurrence.
Morgan’s party had quite the guest list. CNN/U.S. executive VP Ken Jautz was there, sporting a sling on his left arm. “AC360″ anchor Anderson Cooper dropped in to wish Piers well before returning to his studio. Other CNNers included CNN political director Sam Feist. CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and HLN host AJ Hammer.
ABC News was well represented, with new ABC News president Ben Sherwood in attendance, along with “World News” anchor Diane Sawyer, Chris Cuomo and former CNN reporter-turned “This Week” anchor Christiane Amanpour.
Other TV news personalities in attendance included Charlie Rose, Fox Business Network reporter Dennis Kneale, Deborah Norville, Radio host and TV pundit Monica Crowley and former CBS ‘Early Show’ weather anchor Dave Price.
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