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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Rep. Giffords' Recovery; Piers Morgan Unplugged
Aired January 13, 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: Welcome to the special 9:00 edition of 360. For most of the hour we're going to be talking to Piers Morgan. Frankly he spends a lot of the hour grilling me but you'll hear a lot about his approach to interviewing and how he plans to shake things up right here in the timeslot starting next Monday with Oprah Winfrey.
First, though, new developments out of Tucson tonight.
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords continuing to delight her doctors with the progress she's making. Last night, President Obama delivered the news that she opened her eyes. Today her medical team says she's aware of her surroundings and better still is beginning the first stages of rehab.
Also, today news that a bag suspect Jared Loughner was carrying shortly before the shooting has been discovered containing ammunition.
Let's talk to Randi Kaye and 360 MD Sanjay Gupta with all details on congresswoman's -- on the congresswoman's remarkable progress.
Sanjay, you spoke to Congresswoman Giffords' husband Mark Kelly today. What did he tell you?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: He was in Houston when first found out. The chief of staff to Congresswoman Giffords called him and told him that she had been injured. You know he's a pilot, as you know, Anderson. An astronaut.
He was able to get on a plane, a Challenger, and get to Tucson very fast about 45 minutes. Arriving right around the time that his wife was out of the operating room back in the intensive care unit.
And it was at that time that he met with two doctors, Dr. Rhee and Dr. Lemole, to hear for the first time really what specifically had happened to his wife. He learned that she had been obviously suffered a gunshot wound to the head at that time. And sort of got some idea of her progress and what was expected.
You know it was interesting to hear him talk, Anderson, you know, about what happened, for example, specifically last night. He doesn't strike me as the guy who sort of -- you know likely to use the word miracle off the cuff. But when describing this eye-opening that you were just talking about, he said it was a miraculous thing.
I asked him, I said, do you think your wife knew the president of the United States was visiting the room? And he sort of paused for a second and he said, I think she knew the president was there although I am not sure she could figure out why he was visiting her.
And that just gives you a little bit of an idea of where she is in her awareness state. She reaches out from time to time, Anderson. Touches his face. He was joking around with me. He said he's kept her, you know sort of unable to see visitors and really trying to keep things quiet in the room.
And he joked around that maybe at one point he thought she was actually trying to like strangle him because she was getting so bored. That just gives you a little bit of an idea of what's happening inside that room. He said the breathing tube may come out tomorrow, could be in for a couple more days. But every single day there's been progress.
COOPER: Randi, you told us last night that authorities were looking for this black bag that might have belonged to Loughner. That he had run off, his father tried to chase him down. He disappeared, they didn't know where the bag was. They found it now, right?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. This was the bag that he and his father apparently argued about, according to police, in the front yard the morning of the shooting, Anderson. His dad apparently asked him what's in the bag. Where are you going with the bag?
Loughner allegedly took off. His dad tried to chase him down in his truck but didn't find him. Well, today a young man not far from the Loughner home in that neighborhood actually found the bag. Turned it over to police. And the Pima County Sheriff's Department now says that in the bag was ammunition, 9 millimeter ammunition to be more specific, which would match the weapon that they believe was used in the shooting on Saturday morning.
So in the bag ammunition. There were also a few other things in the bag that they will not elaborate on. We know that the ammunition was bought at a Walmart. But they wouldn't say what the store receipts, where the store receipts were actually from, where this ammunition was bought. But there were some store receipts and ammunition in that bag -- Anderson.
COOPER: And Dr. Sanjay, just very briefly, you talked to the congresswoman's doctor, Peter Rhee, any word from him?
GUPTA: Well, you know, he's obviously been coordinating the care still. I asked him specifically about how he was so optimistic right at the time that this injury occurred. It was a little surprising. Take a look at what he said. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. PETER RHEE, CHIEF OF TRAUMA: I was more concerned about disability later on, but not about whether she was going to die.
GUPTA: At no point were you worried about that? At any point since this all happened now almost a week later? RHEE: I was actually kind of excited about the fact that we have somebody with a -- you know, a head shot that's going to survive and might have good recovery. I mean, I get disappointed when I come in here and someone is already dead or I can't do something for.
When I see someone that I can salvage and do something good for that's when you get all revved up.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: That's a great sense of his personality right there. Dr. Rhee. He never doubted it, Anderson. As much speculation as there was about the congresswoman's recovery, he said I was always confident that she was going to survive this.
COOPER: I'll say. Sanjay, thanks. Randi.
For the rest of the hour we're going to have a preview. Something we're all pretty excited about here. And by the way, we'll obviously going to have all the latest at the 10:00 edition of "360." A complete hour focusing on the shooting. Also the latest out of Washington and also in Haiti.
Premier of "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" in this timeslot, 9:00, on Monday, with Oprah Winfrey. Piers is kicking off his show with just about the biggest guest, Oprah.
Now some of you may know him as a judge in "America's Got Talent" and "Britain's Got Talent." But Piers has also got a long career in journalism in England. He's known for his sharp interviewing style which you're going to see firsthand.
And we talk tonight about everything from celebrities to scandals, politics, the royal family, including his friendship with Princess Di. We begin with his latest career move.
COOPER: So why on god's earth do you want to do a show on CNN?
PIERS MORGAN, HOST, PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT: It actually goes back to 1991. I was working a big national newspaper, newsroom in Britain. "The Sun." I was in my early 20s. And I was watching this giant screen, like the one behind you there. And it was the Iraq war and it was -- it was Bernie Shore and Peter Arnett.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is going very high in the sky over the hotel.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: And they were literally doing the most astonishing television I had ever watched. And the whole newsroom came to a halt. And I realized watching it that the future of journalism was probably through the prism of a TV screen for the first time.
And the whole CNN thing just seemed incredibly thrilling. The 24-hour rolling news. If it happened you had to watch CNN. And so for me you'd always thought I'd spend my life in newspapers. I could see that television through 24-hour news networks like CNN was going to be the future.
COOPER: How will you measure success on your show?
MORGAN: And the reason I say that is -- you know, I have been brought up 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 in to shake up that 9:00 hour and make it I think louder, noisier, more provocative, get some headlines, 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 partisan, I don't want to bring my own politics into this.
COOPER: Do you see yourself as liberal conservative or do you wear it down on your sleeve?
MORGAN: You know, I don't even want to say that.
MORGAN: Because, A, I can't vote here any way. So it's kind of meaningless. And B, I really don't want to get pigeon holed once I start the show as a political interviewer who has a bias. You know and people say, give 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.
I really didn't get a sense that you were bothered if it was a Democrat or a Republican administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You know, I've got to tell you there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry and very frustrated.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
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 up your back side.
COOPER: No, no, it's working. MORGAN: But if you enjoy it, I can. But I think it's where CNN is at its best. It can be just as visceral, and emotive and passionate as its rivals without descending 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 to themselves.
COOPER: Because you've done some really surprising interviews with folks in the U.K. I mean Elton John, Simon Cowell, you know, Gordon Brown. I think you've made them all cry one part or another.
MORGAN: Yes, I mean, that's --
COOPER: How do you make Simon Cowell cry?
MORGAN: It's not easy. You really have to push him.
COOPER: I interviewed him for "60 Minutes" for, like, days at a time. I didn't get one tear.
MORGAN: Yes. Because I know him very well. I've known Simon 20 years. And I knew that for him -- probably the 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 mean very -- yes.
COOPER: Because I researched Simon Cowell a lot.
MORGAN: I know you're not used to this in CNN.
COOPER: No, no. I researched Simon Cowell a lot for "60 Minutes" for my piece, I did not know that moment. Had I known that I would have used that.
MORGAN: I'm sort of obsessive about research.
MORGAN: I think because of my journalistic background. I like interviews to engender an emotion in people. Whether it's tears, laughter, anger, passion, and whatever it is, you can't be dull emotionally. Can't be nothing.
COOPER: You want authenticity. MORGAN: Yes, I want to find out what they're really like.
COOPER: Do you think you could make John Boehner cry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: These kids have a shot at the American dream like I did.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: You know, I think he needs to get more in touch with his emotional side. And I felt this for sometime. I mean it's really funny. 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 school to meet kids he doesn't even know, he'd be laughed at in Britain.
And yet here I noticed, although the media was scoffing 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: I think -- I personally, I mean, I was surprised, like the ladies of "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 emotion.
MORGAN: I suppose the -- I supposed 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.
MORGAN: But I didn't really get that sense from him. I thought he was just genuinely a very emotional guy about that kind of thing, about children, the future, the dream that he's living.
COOPER: I saw --
MORGAN: He feels that quite passionately, doesn't he?
COOPER: How much of an interview do you try to prepare? I mean you obviously do a lot of research. You know you probably write out questions. How much of it is what you thought about in advance? And how much is just impromptu based on what somebody else said?
MORGAN: I like to research very thoroughly. So I like to know everything about -- 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.
MORGAN: You haven't bothered to find out. I think, as a journalist, I see it's an absolute prerequisite of a 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 the 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 at home is seeing as a nice cozy set up. And I like when it's going to reveal something really fascinating about the person. That's what it its. Doesn't have to be something bad. You just got to be fascinating.
To me there's the seven P's before you've sit down. And it's my brother's unofficial regimental motto in the royal welsh in Afghanistan. And it was prior planning and preparation prevent piss poor performance. Which is a great mantra for life.
And then there's the F's for guests. They're going 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 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: Yes. I will.
MORGAN: You got lucky today.
COOPER: I know.
MORGAN: You didn't do the seven P's, but you got the three F's.
COOPER: That is true.
COOPER: After the break, Piers talks about Princess Di's naughty side, the Queen and McDonald's and his marriage to Paris Hilton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Was there a pre-nup?
MORGAN: I can't go into the details.
COOPER: Did you have to take a course of antibiotics after that?
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Welcome back to this special 9:00 edition of 360. My conversation with Piers Morgan.
He has pointed opinions about celebrities and thinks that one of the 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.
COOPER: You knew Princess Diana quite well.
COOPER: You spoke to her on the phone, yes?
MORGAN: Weekly. 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 women 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.
MORGAN: She came from quite a damaged upbringing.
MORGAN: 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 think that Diana was troubled as a youngster. Then, you know, she's 19 when she married Prince Charles. And sort of 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 were, saying, will your photographers be on the beach tomorrow morning at 9:00, which the morning of the party. I said, yes, they will. OK, well, make sure they are.
9:00 out she comes in a leopard skin bikini and did half an hour of cart wheels knowing that every front pages of the paper the next day would be, Dear Camilla, happy birthday, love, Diana, in this stunning --
MORGAN: -- leopard skin dress. And that is where she could be mischievous and naughty.
COOPER: You're banning Madonna. Now what do you have against Madonna?
MORGAN: She's boring. There is Lady Gaga now. Everything is cyclical. It'll happen to you Anderson. There'll be a new Anderson in 10 years' time.
COOPER: No, listen, I --
MORGAN: I will have to ban you as well.
COOPER: I am boring now. I admit it. I've never pretended not to be, but she's not boring. I like Madonna.
MORGAN: No, she's boring.
MORGAN: And too old to do that kind of thing.
COOPER: Come on, she -- I --
MORGAN: When I saw her stripping off down to her undies again, I feel enough. Lady Gaga great. She's the new Madonna. With bells, with brains.
COOPER: I've met Madonna a couple of times. I think she's really interesting.
MORGAN: I disagree.
MORGAN: And she's banned. That's it. And by the way it's permanent. It's a life ban. There is no way back.
COOPER: Yes. OK. You banned her but you got married to Paris Hilton.
MORGAN: I did.
COOPER: We have a picture of this. Where is the picture?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: It cost just $300 and it's all over in 15 minutes. Now 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, HOTEL HEIRESS: 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 power vested in me by the laws of this state, I do now pronounce you husband and wife.
Piers, you may kiss your wife.
MORGAN: Thank you, sir.
HILTON: And remember, Piers, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. But I'm keeping the ring.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Did -- was there a pre-nup?
MORGAN: I can't go into the details.
COOPER: Did you have to take a course of antibiotics after that?
COOPER: Because --
MORGAN: The dog bit me. The dog.
COOPER: Well, yes.
MORGAN: Yes, the dog. You have to be careful. The little dog was yapping at my heels.
I'm very proud of my union with Paris.
COOPER: How did that come about?
MORGAN: I'm doing a documentary on Las Vegas.
MORGAN: And I was trying to illustrate how ridiculously easy and kind of absurd and shallow it is to get married in an Elvis chapel.
MORGAN: So I had Elvis, I had Marilyn Monroe, I had the Rat Pack and the Beatles, everyone was reforming around us.
MORGAN: And we went through this farcical kind of ceremony. But she had the spirit of things, I mean, technically she is my bride.
COOPER: Did she keep the ring, in fact?
COOPER: Do -- you used to kind of skewer celebrity a lot. But you seem now more embracing of it. True?
MORGAN: Well, sort of. And I think I've kind of poached its own gamekeeper, so I've gone on the other side of the fence. But I used to always feel as a newspaper editor that a lot of celebrities were whining little prima donnas who wanted 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: Now that I'm trying to book them, obviously I wouldn't stress that to them in the booking process. But I certainly am much more attracted to celebrity who don't whine all the time.
MORGAN: I think members of the public hate a whining celebrity. They hang on, you've got all these amazing things in your life and the only thing you have to put up with as irritating is you have a photographer or you know some silly headline. To me it's just not in the general scheme of things. It's not important.
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Going back to my apartment on the Riverside apartment in London with a few very close friends, and we've got a Chinese meal and we got some five French wine, and I watch my own obituaries on television.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Print journalism in England is famous for being a rough and a 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.
COOPER: You're only like two years older than me. You seem a lot more adult than me.
MORGAN: Well, I know. I won't say anything.
MORGAN: I think I had to grow up very early. I mean when I was 28 years old, Rupert Murdoch made me editor of "The News of the World," his biggest selling newspaper in the world. And --
COOPER: You spent -- I understand that the job offer came after you guys were walking down a beach together?
MORGAN: It was completely surreal. I mean I was editing --
COOPER: For a couple hours?
MORGAN: Yes. I was editing the --
COOPER: What that's like to just stroll down the beach with Rupert? MORGAN: Well, I'll tell you. I was editing the pop column, the showbiz column in "The Sun." His big selling London tabloid. I got a call, Rupert Murdoch wants to see you tomorrow. OK, great, where? Miami, get on a plane now. But 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 popular 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 several stages I'm thinking what the hell is happening here? Why am I here? Why is he doing this? And at the end of it we want to a party. It was when he bought the NFL for FOX.
MORGAN: And they were just having a big party for the affiliates with FOX. And he introduced me to a guy called Dave Hill. He set up FOX Sports, very legendary TV guy. And with 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. It was surreal. And then the next day he said right, let's go to New York. Two limousines, flying to the tarmac at Miami International, get on his private jet, his Gulfstream 4, and we fly to New York.
And he fell asleep. And as he fell asleep and I sat there and the waitress is saying, would you like the coco (INAUDIBLE) 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 the plane nose dives into the Atlantic, I have just landed this biggest newspaper in the word. And I can't believe it, I'm 28.
COOPER: You've also -- you've been punched on your job?
MORGAN: I have. Yes.
COOPER: Who punched you?
MORGAN: It was a TV presenter called Jeremy Clarkson. He does "Top Gear," which I think has just come to America.
COOPER: Yes. Sure. Yes.
MORGAN: And it's a huge show in Britain. I mean 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 the Mrs. Clarkson. And it happened twice over a space of two years.
And we ended up at the British Press Awards. So you imagine the scene, there's 1,000 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.
I have a little scar in my head here from where the third one hit with his ring.
MORGAN: Yes. And the only --
COOPER: That's what that scar is?
MORGAN: That's the scar. It's actually from the third punch with his ring, gouging out part of my temple there. But at that point at least I remembered to say something. I was just thinking, how is this playing other than really bad? And I didn't hit him back because I thought I'm going to get fired.
MORGAN: Which is ironic, because three weeks later I got fired anyway. But I didn't hit him back. I actually kept my cool. And I think this will all be noted for posterity. I've got to think of something quick. And so I said something (INAUDIBLE) which was my 3- year-old hits me harder than that.
MORGAN: And that gloriously became the only 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 out I'm a bit of a hero because I came up with the line.
But the only good thing was he broke his little finger hitting me. And it's still gnarled and disfigured. Every time I see him on television on this huge show, I see his gnarled, disfigured finger. And it's quietly satisfying.
COOPER: Let me ask you about -- the toughest times in your career. You're the youngest editor of this Rupert Murdoch paper and you were there for, what, two or three years?
MORGAN: About -- under two years.
COOPER: Two years. And you moved to --
MORGAN: "The Daily Mirror."
COOPER: "The Daily Mirror" which is --
MORGAN: Where I was at for 10 years.
COOPER: Huge paper in Great Britain. What happened 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 it 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 -- a lot of fact checking on this for two months. We found out that the guys who were giving them to us were soldiers in a particular regiment 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 to their home address. So they weren't -- if they were hoaxes they were at least sophisticated hoaxes of all time.
MORGAN: So I believed that they were sincere in what they were passing to us. But we had a conference about this and we'd been anti- war newspaper. Not generally anti-war, but anti-Iraq war. We believe there on the "Mirror" very strongly, and we were a left supporting newspaper.
COOPER: Right. You've been very close to Tony Blair.
MORGAN: Very close. Yes.
COOPER: You had multiple meetings with him, conversations with him.
MORGAN: Yes, and I had 56 one-on-one meetings with Blair as prime minister. So we were very close. You know I was -- the "Daily Mirror" in all intents and purposes was 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 brother was fighting there. And he was in Basra the day we published these pictures.
COOPER: Basra in the southeastern Iraq.
COOPER: 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 regiment that what we were publishing was the truth. So I see --
COOPER: So you still believe the pictures may be real?
MORGAN: I believe -- I believe the jury is out. I believe at worst they were reproductive pictures of a genuine incident, which is unacceptable journalistically and I wouldn't pretend it is. But I haven't seen the concrete evidence. No one has produced to me the person who took them, where they took them and what they really are if they're fakes.
And until they do, I won't apologize. And I don't believe in apologizing to a regiment 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? That was a huge story in Britain, these pictures on the front page. You're very publicly fired. For a lot of people, that would be the end.
MORGAN: You know, I was 38 years old. I always thought my book would be called "The Youngest Editor Ever Fired," because I was appointed so ridiculously young. I was quite phlegmatic, actually. I had done ten years. I was probably getting a little bored any way. I had done almost every big story.
When you had done Princess Diana's death, 9/11, and stories of that magnitude, and there has been nothing like it since to even compete with that. Everyone was waiting for me to sort of crash down and feel humiliated and downtrodden and it's over.
Actually, I remember going back to my apartment, a 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: You actually watched people criticizing you?
MORGAN: I was the first ten minutes on both of the main evening news.
COOPER: You watched it?
MORGAN: I loved it. I was laughing my head off. I was watching people I knew hated me trying to pretend they were sorry I had been fired. I love that. It was a wonderful kind of -- I am so sorry he is gone. You're like, no you are not, you little --
But actually, what I felt was I would be vindicated one day. I felt that, 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 the country.
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.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Up next, what Piers really thinks about Americans. Plus his take on the difference and similarities between us and the British.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Americans look to Britain for this great sort of bastion of decency and politeness.
COOPER: It's so not.
MORGAN: It's completely the opposite. Americans are much more polite than Brits these days. I mean, much more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Welcome back to this special 9:00 360. My conversation with Piers Morgan, whose new program "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" premiers Monday night, 9:00, right here on CNN. Traveling between two cultures, he has a pretty unique perspective on the difference 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, "THE DAILY SHOW": By the way, I think they made a brilliant choice by bringing in a British guy no one's heard of. I think that is -- when I'm thinking about floating a sinking ship, what do I want to bring on it? The 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: Last night, David Letterman did the same thing, basically said this is some guy we've never heard of. OK, guys, 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 your journalism. Not so much here. Here you're known as --
MORGAN: Judging card playing pigs.
The best criteria for a CNN front man. I get that.
MORGAN: I've judged 11 pigs now in "Britain's Got Talent" and "America's Got Talent." When I pig comes out now, I'm like, OK, I'm your man. I'm the pig guy. I've seen 11 of you guys. 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: Hang on. 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, and a ferocious cat fight with the other papers, you basically have got to be pretty quick witted, because you are making hundreds of decisions all day. You have to have a sense of humor, because it gets pretty dark in there. And you've got to have levity.
You've got to be able, I think, to spot talent and nurture it, because you're always looking to promote the 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 opinionated. Now, you put all those things together, then you actually have a talent show judge. At least that's my excuse.
COOPER: You've written eight books.
COOPER: A number of them best sellers.
MORGAN: Some are pretty awful. Got to be honest.
MORGAN: 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, it was a diary of my two years here during the process of your election, with the election of Barack Obama, which I -- as a Brit coming here for a few months of the year, watching his assent to power was quite an extraordinary story. And I wanted to record it, and to record my genuine feelings it all unfolds.
COOPER: What do you think the biggest differences between America and the UK are?
MORGAN: I think that it's interesting. What I was saying earlier about the humor difference plays a different way as well. 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, what family you were born into?
MORGAN: Very prevalent. And also, there's a real cynicism which to a certain degree is quite healthy towards 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.
COOPER: You rented an Aston Martin for three months?
MORGAN: They gave me one, actually.
COOPER: That's nice. Wow. I hope that wasn't CNN who gave you that.
MORGAN: It wasn't CNN. No, definitely not. Don't worry. Relax.
Currently most of the money goes your way. But we can soon change that, can't we? 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 cars.
MORGAN: Of course you are. What's this car you've just bought in Manhattan?
COOPER: Firehouse. Firehouse.
MORGAN: They're always small, aren't they? You got a giant pole in there.
COOPER: I have a pole on every floor, as a matter of fact. Actually, I have four poles on every floor, but I'm reducing it to one.
MORGAN: I've heard the rumors, yes. It's OK. Move on.
COOPER: I'm no Milton Burle, but I do OK.
COOPER: Have you had to change yourself in order to kind of fit with an American audience? 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 on 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 set each other up. It's much more like that.
L.A. isn't like that at all. They take you much more literally. When you get down to Dallas or Austin or Seattle, it's very different again. What I've learned is you have to work out a pattern perhaps to your humor that can appeal to the whole of America. That does limit the way you go. If you're a Brit, it particularly limits all the sarcasm, because I might be as sarcastic as I normally am, and to a large swathe of the audience, it will go right over their heads. I don't think --
COOPER: We actually say swathe.
MORGAN: Swathe. Well, I am suave, but that's a different thing altogether. You have to work it out. I know for five years of "America's Got Talent," touring America, I've slowly worked out a kind of route one humor valve which normally works.
COOPER: The thing that always surprises me about England and London -- I think Americans, and myself included, always have this idea about it being this incredibly elegant place, this place of -- not to be totally ridiculous, but folks walking around nicely dressed.
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: I walk 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 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. It's so not elegant.
MORGAN: I'm with you. 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: 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 segue, 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: You feel like --
MORGAN: Look at you, for goodness sake. You're wearing an immaculate suit. And then you've got jeans and white socks. White socks and black shoes?
COOPER: I thought we were shooting at a desk, so I didn't think we were going to be seen, which is why I don't like being on the three shot right now, which we were just on.
MORGAN: I think we should be on a three shot to embarrass you. My grandmother had three sayings. Right? She's got three important things in life. 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 --
MORGAN: Anderson, this sounds pathetic. This is pathetic.
COOPER: It's true. I normally wear black sock.
MORGAN: This is humiliating and pathetic. You try to dig yourself out of an ever bigger hole.
COOPER: Which is why I don't think we should be doing these three shot.
MORGAN: I think we should. The public should see this sartorial fashion icon as he really is.
COOPER: You're wearing European pointy shoes.
MORGAN: I'm wearing Prada, Italian leather. At least I'm wearing black socks.
COOPER: They're little French Louie XIV pointy shoes. That's what they always remind me of. But I digress.
Have you figured out how to ride a segue yet. I think we have some video.
MORGAN: You don't have video, do you? No, this is so humiliating.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Behind you and I will videotape you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get back. Get back the get back. Get back.
MORGAN: You're repeating it. And a third time.
That was one of the most popular videos in British history.
COOPER: You actually injured yourself here?
MORGAN: Here is the background. I know you must know this.
COOPER: I know all the background.
MORGAN: When I was editor at the "Daily Mirror," President Bush -- W. Bush fell off a Segue.
COOPER: 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 the video of him falling off. And then cut forward a few years and I'm on Santa Monica Boulevard. This idiot friend of mine says let's get these Segues out.
I instinctively thought there's Karma here because I remembered the Bush thing. We got on these things and, as you saw, I fell off.
Now, that looked bad. I broke five ribs and collapsed a lung.
COOPER: From that?
MORGAN: Yes, nearly killed me.
MORGAN: It was awful. The worst thing was it was four days before the --
There we go.
COOPER: Let's see it again.
MORGAN: My friend is actually saying on the video, this is going to be better than sex. At which point I fell over.
COOPER: Were you taken to the hospital from here.
MORGAN: I could barely move. I couldn't breathe. I had punctured my lung. Five clean fractures. I had to do -- the final of "America's Got Talent" was four days later. I was literally -- I couldn't breathe or walk or talk. Some would say would have improved my performance as a judge.
So I am in this chaotic stay. And I am saying I can't make it. I have this wonderful 78-year-old nurse called Coreen. She said to me, "darling, you are in Los Angeles, the show must go on."
I was like, not in my back it's not. Simon Cowell rang. He knew exactly how to get me out of bed. He just said really don't worry about it. We have Louis Walsh, who is a judge on "X Factor" in Britain, and he is desperate to get my slot. he said, we have Louis on stand by. He can be here tomorrow.
It's like seeing a greyhound on speed, my move. It was like straight out of that bed. But I was living like a mummy, like strapped in with all this strapping. I could barely move or breathe or talk. And I was like, I can't say anything. I'll just sit there, literally like a mummy from Egyptian times.
And then David Hasselhoff insisted on singing live. He sang "A Perfect Moment," or "This is The Moment." "This is the moment." It was so awful. 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, I 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. David, you just did it."
COOPER: I rode a Segue around actually in these halls here. It's not hat hard.
MORGAN: Whatever. Whatever. They're trickier than they look.
COOPER: All right, yes.
MORGAN: It's bloody painful.
COOPER: You have also 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.
COOPER: In fact, where was it? Let me just get this, you called Twitter a pointless and vacuous form of gormless twits to Tweet to other twits. What is a gormless twit?
MORGAN: It's particularly stupid person who uses Twitter. Of course, I made that assessment before I was on it myself.
COOPER: Now you love it.
MORGAN: By joining it, I raised the tone. It ceases to be gormless. So the bar has been raised to a level where I feel comfortable.
COOPER: Why do you like to Tweet?
MORGAN: I got Twitter wrong. I actually thought Twitter really was for twits. And the people I was sort of looking at, who were on it, I thought this -- they were Tweeting such nonsensical trivial detail of their boring, mundane little lives.
COOPER: I got to say, I read one of your Tweets the other day. You're talking about eating a steak in some restaurant, and I thought to myself, who cares?
MORGAN: Yes, but it was a great steak. Well, you're reading it, so you must have been.
COOPER: I don't know how it got on my Blackberry. I was reading it.
MORGAN: The fact is you read about me eating a steak.
COOPER: Of course, that was literally while I'm eating a McDonald's hamburger. And I am thinking, why aren't I in a fancy restaurant eating a steak?
MORGAN: What I love about Twitter, actually, is it can be totally inconsequential. And the detail can be pointless. But you are having this sort of weird constant and real time debate with the world.
COOPER: Do you have crazy people who are Tweeting you back? Because that's very annoying.
MORGAN: I love the abuse, though. I find it funny. I re-Tweet most of the best abuse. I find it funny, yes. Yes, I think it's one of the things you have to take in our job. I actually -- having been a newspaper editor, where you're public enemy number one most of the time, I actually am used to it. I like it. I embrace it.
I get disappointed. I wake up, and I see a lot of phony platitudes, I'm really disappointed. I like people to go on and say Morgan, you're such a half wit. What's your talent? I say nothing. I don't have one. Imagine how much angrier you now feel. I don't have one. It really gets to them.
COOPER: Up next, Piers and I switch roles. He interviews me. Quite frankly, some of his questions caught me off guard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: What's been the greatest moment of your life. The one you'd relive again before you died.
MORGAN: The single moment.
COOPER: Hmm. Wow. Let me think about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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 first hand. During our conversation, he asked me some probing questions about my professional life and personal life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: So, Anderson, obviously you're the poster boy for CNN.
COOPER: Oh, is that right? Oh.
MORGAN: So you told me. But --
COOPER: It does say that on my business cards.
MORGAN: I was curious, though, because before I was planning my own assault on the 9:00 p.m. slot, they said have you watched one of Anderson's shows, which I did a couple of weeks ago. I sat down, ready to watch this guy that I knew from Katrina and Haiti and probably the most respected news journalist in the world.
COOPER: I don't know about that.
MORGAN: I turned on my screen and I was horrified, because you appeared to be wearing a giant rabbit outfit and trying to tuck bananas at randy gorillas.
COOPER: 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: I had to ring the suits, as Larry calls them, to say, have I joined the right network. I made a terrible mistake here?
COOPER: You thought it was one of those public access shows in the United States, sort of like after midnight. Yeah. 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 the moment you felt was most significant to your career and --
COOPER: Yeah, I'd say it's probably the moment when I understood the job better than I ever had before. I mean, I'd spent a lot of time overseas. I'd been in the 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 what -- I'm in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Probably the only other time I 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 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 it honest yourself?
COOPER: How do you mean?
MORGAN: You must be almost saint-like now, because you can't be dishonest at all. All of us lie at least ten times a day. You can't. You can't even get into a restaurant and say anything wrong. You have to be completely honest, don't you?
COOPER: I've just stopped talking to people altogether, so I don't have to say anything one way or the other. On the program, 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, 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: Hmm. 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 die, be crushed, and their bodies put away into dump trucks and literally dumped on to the side of a road. And no one knows their name, no one even knows their passing. And no one know what will ever happen to them.
To be in a position where you could try to help people and actually call out those who are doing that sort of stuff, and trying to make a difference, to me, professionally, that was the moment when I felt I'm -- this is exactly what I want to be doing with my life.
And personally the greatest moment -- you know, I think for -- 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 is transformative. It changes -- I think the person I was meant to be -- 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 I have of him when we were all together as a family and just, you know, hanging out 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 think it would be something like that.
COOPER: Four days and counting until the premiere of "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT," this coming Monday, January 17th, 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific, right here on CNN. Piers' first guest, Oprah Winfrey, who just unveiled her new TV network, Own.
Welcome to 360. Thanks for watching. Tonight, keeping them honest, the missed opportunities that might have prevented a massacre. Did campus officials at the community college that Jared Loughner attended know that the Arizona law would have allowed them or anyone to contact mental health professionals regarding Loughner?