CNN host Piers Morgan has attempted to tamp down speculation about his activities at the now defunct News Corp. newspaper News of the World, telling viewers on his talk show Monday evening that he was not aware of any illicit efforts to gain information during his tenure at the publication or at the Daily Mirror.
"For the record, I do not believe that any story we published" either at News of the World, or at the Daily Mirror, which he also supervised, "was ever gained in an unlawful manner, nor have I ever seen anything to suggest that ," he said on CNN Monday evening. Mr. Morgan said he was editor at News of the World between 1994 and 1995 and editor at the Daily Mirror, a British paper not owned by News Corp., from 1995 to 2004.
Scrutiny of Mr. Morgan, a relatively minor figure on U.S. TV these days (he also serves as a judge on NBC's "America's Got Talent"), shows how intense interest has grown in the News Corp. scandal, which centers on instances of phone hacking at the company's News of the World. At first blush, the trespass into private phone accounts seemed part of the tabloid game, but as more reports of efforts to hack into phones owned by a murdered British girl or victims of terrorist attacks have come to the surface, any humor that might be found in the situation has flowed down the drain.
Other figures have denied knowledge of phone-hacking practices and have yet been brought to account, which may illumine the reasons why speculation about Mr. Morgan has yet to ebb. During his program Monday, he stated that his tenure at News of the World came some time before the period when the phone hacking was said to have taken place.
Should Mr. Morgan be subsumed by the furor, it would prove a major annoyance to Time Warner 's CNN, which is still working to stabilize its prime-time lineup. The network recently canceled "In the Arena," an 8 p.m. talk show hosted by controversial former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, and then moved Anderson Cooper's program to that time slot. CNN is , for the most part, beaten in weekday prime time by rivals Fox News Channel and MSNBC.
While Mr. Morgan has kept his remarks close to the vest on his own program, he's not so demure on Twitter. This morning, he tweeted a note that made it sound as if he was cheering for Mr. Murdoch, who was testifying in front of Parliament in the U.K. "News Corp stock price has risen throughout the hour. Not, I suspect, how the MPs hoped things might go from their interrogation," he wrote.
"Strong finish by Rupert," he wrote on Twitter toward the end of their visit to Parliament. "Love him or hate him, does anyone genuinely think he's a crook or condoned crime? Because I don't."