CNN's Larry King Replacement Praises Obama for Improving America's Image Abroad

In a Thursday interview with CBS Early Show special contributor Amanda Holden, Larry King replacement Piers Morgan talked about his new CNN show and who would be at the top of his guest list: "Well, I'd love to do President Obama. I like what he's done for the reputation of America abroad, which I'm not sure many Americans fully understand."

The second on Morgan's list: "Bill Clinton, another one....One of the most charismatic people I've ever seen." At the mention of Clinton, Holden gushed: "Oh, yes. I'd love you to interview him." Holden concluded her report by proclaiming: "[Piers] is a complete news junky and he tells me that he cannot wait for the next big story to break....he knew he wanted to be a reporter since he was 6 years old. Aww. Replacing Larry King is really a dream come true for him."

While teasing Holden's exclusive interview with Morgan earlier in the broadcast, co-host Harry Smith gave the British talker a ringing endorsement: "...the big headline, Piers Morgan gets Larry King's job....He's got an amazing, interesting newspaper background and he may actually have the right feet to fill those shoes."

Here is a full transcript of Holden's September 9 interview with Morgan:


HARRY SMITH: Also this morning, the big headline, Piers Morgan gets Larry King's job. People have seen him on a talent show, whatever it is, but people across America say, 'who is this guy?' Our Amanda Holden, our good pal, they're very good friends. We have an exclusive with Amanda and Piers and she's going to tell us all about the guy. He's got an amazing, interesting newspaper background and he may actually have the right feet to fill those shoes.

ERICA HILL: Oh, looking forward to that.


SMITH: Also, we're going to hear from Piers Morgan, exclusively, about his new gig replacing Larry King on CNN.


SMITH: Coming up, an exclusive look at the man trying to fill some big suspenders. Piers Morgan is taking over for Larry King on CNN starting in January. He's a much bigger name in Britain than he is here. And our friend, Amanda Holden, who's a pretty big name herself over there, had a talk with Piers about his plans for his new role.


SMITH: Up next, the new Larry King, minus the suspenders. Our Amanda Holden has an Early Show exclusive interview with Piers Morgan. He'll be taking over that time slot at CNN.


HARRY SMITH: CNN has officially announced that Piers Morgan from 'America's Got Talent' will replace Larry King when he leaves his long-running prime time program in January. Early Show special contributor Amanda Holden recently visited with Piers Morgan. She joins us now from London with an Early Show exclusive. Amanda, good morning.

AMANDA HOLDEN: Good morning, Harry. Well, some of you know me as one of the judges on 'Britain's Got Talent.' Truth be told, I sit right between Piers Morgan and Simon Cowell, quite an extraordinary place to be, let me tell you. On American television, Piers is seen weekly as a talent judge, but in England he's also known as a veteran journalist who's covered news all over the world. I sat down with Piers for a personal conversation and he told me how he approached CNN and then campaigned to replace the king of talk.

LARRY KING: Welcome to CNN, Piers.

PIERS MORGAN: Thank you very much. It's a great honor-

HOLDEN: With that hand shake Larry King ended an era and handed over the reins of his 25-year-old show to British journalist Piers Morgan.

KING: With that chapter closing I'm looking forward to the future. What my next chapter will bring. But for now, for here, it's time to hang up the nightly suspenders.

HOLDEN: It was a storied career that included some 40,000 interviews, King's been the man everyone's opened up to.

KING: Who gave you this ring?


HOLDEN: A frenzy of speculation erupted as to who would replace the industry legend. Familiar names like Ryan Seacrest, Joy Behar, and Howard Stern were mentioned. The name that quickly emerged as the frontrunner was actually the British journalist.

MORGAN: If I'm as memorable in 40 years' time as he's become, I'll be absolutely thrilled.

HOLDEN: Now in one of his very first interviews since the news became public, Morgan says the enormity of the job is still sinking in.

MORGAN: I'll admit, he's one of my heroes. And what I loved about the show, always, is that he could do a president one minute and Paris Hilton the next and be equally comfortable.


MORGAN: And I decided there were too many missed notes.

HOLDEN: Many recognize Piers in this country as a talent show and from the show that discovered Susan Boyle, 'Britain's Got Talent.' He also happens to be one of the most respected interviewers in the U.K. On his show, 'Piers Morgan's Life Stories,' he's faced off with prime ministers.

MORGAN: Well let me spell it out for you, there are a lot of narcotics swashing around in university.

GORDON BROWN: No, I've never touched cannabis, never touched any hard drugs.

MORGAN: Never inhaled, exhaled.

HOLDEN: My husband always says that you - you pump the cushions up nicely - plump them up - and then you whack them.

MORGAN: I don't think I whack people, but I do, I think probably what I'm known for in Britain most is asking very direct questions.

MORGAN: How vain are you?

SIMON COWELL: Not that vain, actually. I'm actually not.

MORGAN: How have you kept a straight face saying that? Actually, I know how you kept a straight face. From the Botox.

HOLDEN: Piers' unique style has made him an insider on both sides of the Atlantic, from Hollywood's elite to Britain's royals.

MORGAN: I had a lunch with Diana and Prince William when he was 13. She looked absolutely beautiful in the flesh. I remember thinking the most beautiful woman I've ever seen in my life.

HOLDEN: Now obviously, American audiences have absolutely no idea, really, of your journalistic background. And you have feasted on celebrities in our country.

MORGAN: Well, I find the celebrity culture fascinating, but I also find a lot of them to be overpaid, underworked, pampered little prima donnas. So when I find whining celebrities, it really gets on my nerves.

HOLDEN: With his new CNN show starting in January, it's not too soon for Piers to be thinking about who he'd like to talk to.

MORGAN: Well, I'd love to do President Obama. I like what he's done for the reputation of America abroad, which I'm not sure many Americans fully understand. Bill Clinton, another one.

HOLDEN: Oh, yes. I'd love you to interview him.

MORGAN: One of the most charismatic people I've ever seen. I'd also love to get Mel Gibson, what a story he's got to tell.

HOLDEN: Yeah. No matter who he's sitting across from, Piers is determined to make his mark on TV.

MORGAN: I want to become the person that, you know, big stars in America, big public figures, feel they can go to for an entertaining encounter, but they'll be thinking that wasn't an easy ride. That's the perfect interview environment.

HOLDEN: Piers' now show doesn't have a name yet, but it will be based in New York. He'll also shuttle between Los Angeles and London. He's a complete news junky and he tells me that he cannot wait for the next big story to break. His grandfather was journalist, as was his father for a while, and he said that he knew he wanted to be a reporter since he was 6 years old. Aww. Replacing Larry King is really a dream come true for him.

SMITH: Talk to me a little bit more about his background, because we really only know him from the reality show here in the United States and a little from the one in the U.K.. He really does have a kind of a wide knowledge of all kinds of celebrities.

HOLDEN: I mean, he has dozens and dozens of celebrities he's interviewed. And many of them now have become his friends. I can tell you one story that I can share that he - Piers told me that he was actually the person that introduced Paul McCartney to Heather Mills and encouraged him to go out with her. And we all know how that ended. And apparently, Sir Paul McCartney later said, 'thanks, mate, that cost me 50 million.'

SMITH: Just 50 million.

HOLDEN: Oh, and another bit of juicy gossip was that Piers told me that Sarah Ferguson begged him for an introduction to Tiger Woods just - well, not near the scandal, but a few years before the scandal broke. But he didn't. And I think she had a lucky escape because she might have been on that list of conquests.

SMITH: Wow, there you go. Amanda, thank you so much. Love the insight.

HOLDEN: Thank you.

SMITH: We're all voting yes for the new do, by the way.

HOLDEN: Oh, bless you. Thank you.

SMITH: Alright, have a good day.

HOLDEN: Loving yours as always, Harry.

SMITH: Amanda, thank you so much.

-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.