CNN 'won't switch Morgan off" after Leveson, says expert

Piers Morgan's appearance by video link at the Leveson inquiry won't have much effect on his standing in the United States where he is best-known as a CNN host, according to American commentators.

Piers: still smiling

Things could change, however, if new evidence ties him directly to hacking by journalists into cell phone messages, said a report in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The report quoted Frank Sesno, director of the Media School at George Washington University and a former CNN Washington bureau chief, "I didn't see anything that would make them turn him or the television off."

Morgan's interrogation was carried live in the UK but not in the US. CNN carried summaries, with some video . Fox News mentioned Piers during a newscast, with no video. MSNBC also did brief reports.

The Associated Press called Morgan "tense and sometimes hostile" — but the focus was mainly on Morgan's refusal to say how he heard a phone message left by Paul McCartney for then-wife Heather Mills.

Heather Mills has since denied playing the recording for Morgan and CNN has now asked him to respond to that.

The general view was that the event made no waves for for Morgan in the United States.

"I don't think it's going to have any effect on his career," said Paul Levinson, professor of communications and media studies at Fordham University in New York, "but you shouldn't make the mistake of thinking that it's a good thing."

Morgan replaced CNN's Larry King nearly a year ago and now pulls on average 735,000 viewers each night - up 9 percent over King's audience in 2010. Viewership is up by 26 percent in the valuable 25-to-54-year-old demographic.

More worrying to Piers might be the American audience's seeming indifference to his fate. "CNN hoped Morgan would be the sort of feisty and combative host who could attract a loyal following," said journalism professor Sid Bedingfield in the Chronicle.

That hadn't really happened, said Bedingfield, a former CNN executive and now a journalism professor at the University of South Carolina. " The cable news audience doesn't seem that interested. Barring new revelations, I doubt his testimony will change that one way or another."

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