Piers Morgan has come out swinging against carping critics, who have included his predecessor, Larry King, and conservative/libertarian pundit Andrew Sullivan (The Daily Dish). In an interview with Politico.com's Dylan Byers, Morgan said of King: I've tried to be very respectful about Larry; he's a legend, and I feel very proud to have followed him. But I think he just slightly needs to button it, because he's talking nonsense. The reason we're different is, I'm a journalist and he's not. Larry isn't a journalist, never has been. (Last week King had said that Morgan's show was more about him and less about his guests.) Morgan had far harsher words for Sullivan, who last week said that Morgan's recent crusade for gun control amounted to a week-long ratings-seeking descent into Jerry Springer land. Andrew Sullivan is a dick, Morgan told Byers. He's an extremely bitchy, deeply unpleasant, rather confused individual who for whatever reason despises the very spittle I put on the floor. Well, good luck to you, mate. But I couldn't give a toss. Morgan did not deny that he's out to improve his ratings. We are ultimately a cable television program. Of course ratings matter, Morgan said. What is heartening to me is that we've been getting very strong ratings by doing an issue where we are energizing the debate, and we are actually getting things happening. Indeed, he said, pro-gun radio host Alex Jones, was the smartest booking we've ever made, pointing out that it produced 8 million accesses on YouTube -- extraordinary for a cable talk show. He remains behind his two principal competitors on Fox News and MSNBC. However, the told Byers, Bill O'Reilly took three or four years to get going at Fox. Rachel Maddow the same at MSNBC. It's particularly difficult when you're replacing a legend like Larry King. But I now feel that the atmosphere in the building is as competitive as I've known it.
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