Morgan’s hometown paper The Guardian chimed in too, giving a Brit-take on the new host’s first night. Hadlee Freeman’s review provides a little Morgan context for the American viewer.

To British viewers, Morgan seems like the protagonist from a satirical novel about the modern day media. Not even Henry Fielding would have dreamed of a character, brought so high, then so low, then so insanely high again, all by his own hubris. If there is a moral to the story of Morgan, it’s to never doubt yourself, no matter how many others do.

…While he may not have been wearing Larry King’s red braces, or sitting in King’s studio (instead, it was filmed in a cluttered hotel room with an unfortunate, strange horse statue behind Morgan on which the rider appeared to be about to plunge a spear into his skull) he didn’t entirely do away with all of his predecessor’s trappings. There was a definite lick of subservience to Winfrey that was wholly lacking from, say, Morgan’s interview with Katie Price on ITV.

For a glowing appraisal, see John Timpane at The Philadelphia Inquirer. Small victories are important Timpane reminds us, especially when you’re up against the likes of the one.

While you can’t say Morgan pried any big revelations out of Oprah, you can definitely say he “won” the encounter (if it were even a contest in the first place). That’s because, after a first segment that was clearly a draw, he got Oprah to banter and to leave, for brief moments, her perpetual scriptedness.

In the second segment, he knocked her off her mark, ever so slightly, with the question, exquisitely crafted, of “How many times have you been properly in love?” (Winfrey complimented him on the properly, and she rewarded it with an answer: three times, with two broken hearts.)
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Joel Meares is a former CJR assistant editor.