I did not know David Carr. For this reason, I have spent the last day listening to, rather than contributing to, the outpouring of grief, appreciation, and respect following his death.
Then I saw this, a tweet from Piers Morgan, showing an email he received from David Carr days before the Times story announcing that Morgan's time with CNN was coming to an end. I had to share it. It is too great an artifact.
No need for a journalism-school lecture here. The letter is not literature. It's not grandiose. It's not even grammatically pristine. (I don't count a single capital letter.) It's just good journalism, kind, hard, and honest.
The message was sent on February 21. Two days later, the Times published a story "Piers Morgan and CNN Plan End to His Prime-Time Show". The email exchange yielded this passage:
It’s been an unhappy collision between a British television personality who refuses to assimilate — the only football he cares about is round and his lectures on guns were rife with contempt — and a CNN audience that is intrinsically provincial. After all, the people who tune into a cable news network are, by their nature, deeply interested in America.
I received a return call from Mr. Morgan and was prepared for an endless argument over my assumptions. Not so. His show, he conceded, was not performing as he had hoped and was nearing its end.
“It’s been a painful period and lately we have taken a bath in the ratings,” he said, adding that although there had been times when the show connected in terms of audience, slow news days were problematic.
“Look, I am a British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns, which has been very polarizing, and there is no doubt that there are many in the audience who are tired of me banging on about it,” he said. “That’s run its course and Jeff and I have been talking for some time about different ways of using me.”