I NEVER THOUGHT I’D LONG FOR THE HALCYON DAYS OF LARRY KING: “Backfire: Piers Morgan and the churlish interviewer,” is Hugh Hewitt’s latest column at the Washington Examiner:

C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb set the standard for author interviews. No one can match him, but everyone can try, and when a writer as skilled as, say, Del Wilber, whose “Rawhide Down” hasn’t had a negative review yet from anyone who read it, says an interview was the best he has had, well then, that’s a compliment worth receiving.

Which is why Piers Morgan’s non-interview of Jonah Goldberg last week ought to have been an embarrassment to Morgan and his network, CNN. Morgan had quite obviously not read Jonah’s wonderful “Tyranny of Cliches,” and seemed almost afraid to let Jonah speak a complete sentence, for fear that the Los Angeles Times columnist and NationalReview.com contributor might have wielded his well-known wit against his host.

So Morgan launched a fusillade of bizarre questions, few of which had anything to do with the book and none of which genuinely sought or allowed an answer. Goldberg kept his cool and repaid gracelessness with graciousness, but should he have done so? Hitchens would never have put up with such behavior by someone so obviously unprepared and also so churlish, but the American way is to smile and look quizzically at the boorish host.

CNN’s ratings are in the tank, and it is because the network increasingly allows new and unprepared hosts to displace pros like Wolf Blitzer, Candy Crowley and John King, or CNN burdens a good interviewer like Anderson Cooper with an inane slogan like “Keeping Them Honest” and obliges him to repeat it in an exercise designed to discredit whatever follows.

Speaking of repeating, Morgan has offered Jonah a second interview, to air tomorrow night. But based on this report at Breitbart News, it doesn’t sound too promising:

Right now, Goldberg and Morgan are engaged in a furious Twitter battle, with Morgan firing:

Looking forward to our re-match tomorrow night @JonahNRO – hope you bring your self-fabled A-game this time…. #CNN

Goldberg quipped:

Not sure why @piersmorgan is so eager for my “A” game when he had so much trouble with my C-game.

Game on.

Where have you gone Larry? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

RELATED: At Twitchy.com, “Piers Morgan’s attempt at smack talking NRO’s Jonah Goldberg goes limp.”