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Piers Morgan (aka Piers Stefan Pughe-Morgan, born Piers Stefan O'Meara in 1965) is a British TV presenter and former newspaper editor. He was a host on the high-profile ITV current affairs program Good Morning Britain from October 2015 until March 2021. During this period, he made a number of controversial remarks about race, women, LGBT issues, veganism, and other topics both on the show and on social media.
Previously he edited the Daily Mirror at the time when press phone hacking was a common practice; there are persistent claims he was involved in that illegal practice, as well as in insider share dealing where he bought shares being boosted by his paper's financial correspondents.
He took a strong dislike to Meghan Markle, wife of Prince Harry, repeatedly attacking her on Good Morning Britain, including saying she was a liar when she said she had contemplated suicide. He angrily denied that hostility to her had anything to do with her race, claiming to know more about racism than several BAME[note 1] people. It is more likely that Morgan holds a grudge against Markle due to his claims of being stood up by her prior to her engagement to Prince Harry.
Proving that Morgan can't take what he dishes out, on March 9th 2021, Morgan stormed off the Good Morning Britain set (and later quit his presenter role entirely) after hearing some light criticism of his boorish behavior towards Markle from GMB weatherman Alex Beresford. In 2022 he moved to Rupert Murdoch's British news channel TalkTV, which was largely a televised version of British talk radio channel TalkRadio, but with Piers and Sharon Osborne doing evening shows.
He also took a bizarre dislike to vegan sausage rolls, which he later admitted was trolling because he was bored. It certainly fits in with his disdain for anything characteristic of Britain's youth (or under-50s).
Right to protest
Despite claiming to support free speech, Morgan absolutely despises peaceful protests. He has referred to pro-choice protests outside the houses of Brett Kavanaugh and John Roberts as "domestic terrorism" despite them being completely law-abiding, outright comparing the protests to terror attacks in Wisconsin. He has also suggested that climate change protestors should be run over with cars (hopefully as a joke, though that wouldn't make it much better), and referred to the Women's March on Washington as "anti-democratic".
Friendship with Donald Trump
Morgan once considered Donald Trump a close personal friend, going back to an appearance on the celebrity version of Trump's TV show The Apprentice.
During the 2016 election, he commended Trump on 'tapping into the popular mood about a number of hot button issues.', but would never vote for Trump himself. In 2017, Morgan defended his friendship with Trump, saying it would be 'weird' to only be friends with people he agreed with. Saying '“I don’t agree with him about guns, I don’t agree with him about climate change, I don’t agree with him about abortion.' and that it doesn't mean he cannot be friendly with him. He strongly disagreed with Trump's Muslim travel ban describing it as 'understandable' but 'unacceptable' how he had gone about it. He also criticised the Women's March on Washington held on 21 January 2017 as being about Trump hating and resentment that Hilary Clinton had lost the election. In 2018 he interviewed Trump for British TV and was accused of sycophancy.
Morgan was critical of Trump for retweeting British far right racists, and was highly critical of Trump's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, at one point going as far to say Trump was 'batshit crazy'. In response Trump unfollowed Morgan's twitter. By the time of the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol, Morgan finally washed his hands of Trump, publicly ending their friendship and branding Trump 'dangerous, deluded and despicable'. In 2022, Morgan interviewed Trump for his new show on TalkTV, and publicised it by pretending Trump had walked out of the interview.
He has been critical of transgender rights, going back to an on-screen argument with Janet Mock on his TV show Piers Morgan Live. He also got upset over trans people in the youth group the Girl Guides, comparing trans people to rapists (the Guides welcomes trans girls). And he ridiculed trans people by making jokes about identifying as a penguin.
At Daily Mirror
He had a controversial time as editor of British left-leaning national tabloid the Daily Mirror from 1995-2004.
In 2000 he invested all his savings to buy £67,000 worth of shares in computer company Viglen, just before his paper's "City Slickers" column promoted it as a stock to buy. As a result, the stock price rose and he made a big profit. He was found to have broken a code of conduct on financial journalism but cleared of criminal charges (possibly in part because he lied to regulators by claiming to have bought many fewer shares than he did), while the journalists Anil Bhoyrul and James Hipwell were convicted of conspiracy to breach the Financial Services Act.
He has been accused of authorising or turning a blind eye to illegal phone hacking while at the Mirror. At the Leveson Inquiry, his claims that phone hacking did not happen under his watch were branded 'utterly unpersuasive' by Lord Justice Leveson. He was questioned by police in 2013 and 2015 but never charged. Although he denies being involved in hacking, in his 2005 book The Insider he explained how newspapers were able to access celebrity voicemails, indicating he certainly knew about it well before the full extent of tabloid phone hacking became apparent around 2010-11. In 2018 the actor Hugh Grant won a lawsuit against the Mirror for hacking his phone while Morgan was in charge. Morgan's only defence is total ignorance of what his staff was doing.
Similar to his later obsession with Meghan Markle, while editor of the Mirror he pursued a campaign of harassment against Princess Diana's lover James Hewitt. The paper admitted accessing Hewitt's private messages but in its defence said they were uninteresting. Hewitt claimed the paper's reporters followed him, intercepted his communications, and broke into his house to steal letters from the Princess of Wales, and says that Morgan "developed a particular obsession and vindictiveness towards him" because of his relationship with Diana. At one point, Hewitt's car was broken into and an autobiographical manuscript stolen; Piers Morgan was interviewed by police but the manuscript was never recovered and charges were not brought.
Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye magazine accused Morgan of trying to get dirt on him, having Hislop followed by private detectives and offering money to readers in exchange for salacious stories. There is a long-term feud between the Eye and Morgan, with Hislop's paper habitually using the nickname Piers Moron.
In 1996 he was criticised over the football-related headline "Achtung Surrender! For You Fritz Ze Euro Championship Is Over".
He is reputed to have had feuds with:
- Jeremy Clarkson, motoring journalist and right-wing columnist, with Clarkson emptying a glass of water over Morgan and the two getting in a fistfight, after Morgan published a photo of Clarkson with a woman who wasn't his wife.
- Ewan McGregor, accusing the actor of being a "paedophile-loving hypocrite" for supporting Roman Polanski, after McGregor criticised Morgan's misogyny.
- Hugh Grant, the actor annoyed Morgan by calling for greater curbs on the press to prevent invasion of privacy.
- 1988 — started work at The Sun, specifically on the 'Bizarre' column - essentially a gossip column. It is here he began using the less posh name Morgan rather than his legal name Pughe-Morgan.
- 1994 — becomes editor of Rupert Murdoch's News of the World.
- 1995 — leaves News of the World after publishing photos of Princess Diana's sister-in-law Catherine Victoria Lockwood leaving a clinic for addictive disorders, viewed an unacceptable invasion of privacy. He claims his departure was voluntary, others suggest Murdoch felt he had gone too far.
- 1995 — becomes editor of the Daily Mirror.
- 2004 — sacked from Mirror.
- 2005 — becomes co-owner of UK newspaper trade publication the Press Gazette.
- 2006 — starts work as a judge on America's Got Talent, the first of several such talent show roles on both sides of the Atlantic, most notably Britain's Got Talent.
- 2010 — replaces Larry King as a host on CNN; his show was axed in 2014 due to low ratings.
- 2015 — after a stint as guest-host of Good Morning Britain, is
taken on permanentlykicked off/resigned in 2021 after making inflammatory comments about Markle and receiving 41,000 complaints about the program
- 2022 — began hosting Piers Morgan Uncensored on talkTV.
Politically, Morgan identified as a supporter of the Conservative Party in a 1994 interview, saying he was "still basically a Tory", but expressed admiration for the new Labour Party leader Tony Blair, saying "he's not radical, speaks well and makes sense". He voted for the Kensington Conservative candidate in the 2019 UK general election, after previously voting for the Animal Welfare Party. Morgan has also stated he has previously voted for the Labour Party.
- BAME = Black, Asian and minority ethnic, used in UK demographics
- "Piers Morgan handed permanent role on Good Morning Britain" by John Plunkett, Guardian, 2015 October 14
- "Piers Morgan leaving 'Good Morning Britain' after storming off set over his attacks on Meghan" by Oliver Darcy, CNN Business, 2021 March 10
- "Seven times Piers Morgan caused outrage online: From his spat with Ant and Dec to his criticism of Meghan Markle" by Tom Herbert and Bronwen Weatherby, Evening Standard, 2020 January 30
- See the Wikipedia article on Piers Morgan.
- Piers Morgan torn apart for ‘hateful’ takedown of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on Good Morning Britain, The Independent, 8 March 2021
- Piers Morgan ‘doesn’t believe’ Meghan Markle’s suicidal revelation in Oprah interview: ‘I’m sickened by what I just watched’, The Metro, 8 March 2021
- Trisha Goddard Shuts Down Piers Morgan During Discussion About Racism Towards Meghan Markle, Huffington Post, 8 March 2021
- Lisa Nandy clashes with Piers Morgan over Meghan racism claims, The Guardian, 22 Jan 2020
- Did Piers Morgan Say He Was ‘Ghosted’ by Meghan Markle?
- "Piers Morgan Walks Off Good Morning Britain During Meghan Markle Conversation" by Zoe Haylock, Vulture, 2021 March 9
- "Who is Alex Beresford, the weatherman who confronted Piers Morgan?" by Nicki Gostin, People, 2021 March 9
- Rebekah Brooks pinning hopes for talkTV on Piers Morgan show, The Guardian, 23 April 2022
- Piers Morgan says criticism over Greggs vegan sausage rolls was mostly because he was 'bored out of my brains', The Independent, 10 May 2020
- Piers Morgan Willing To 'Fall On My Sword' For Freedom Of Speech, Extra, 10 March 2021
- "DOMESTIC TERRORISM!": Piers Morgan RIPS Protests At Supreme Court Homes | The Kyle Kulinski Show, 12 May 2022
- 'Just drive over them': Piers Morgan sparks controversy over comments on climate protesters, Daily Express, 24 Sept 2021
- Piers Morgan Is Getting Ripped Apart For Making The Women's March On Washington All About Him, Yahoo News, 21 Jan 2017
- Piers Morgan gives qualified endorsement of Donald Trump, The Drum, 2 March 2016
- Piers Morgan defends friendship with Donald Trump, The Guardian, 30 Jan 2017
- Ewan McGregor cancels interview after Piers Morgan's Women's March comments, Harpers Bazaar, 24 Jan 2017
- 88% of viewers say Piers Morgan was too soft on Donald Trump in “sycophantic” ITV “love-in” interview, Radio Times, 2018
- Piers Morgan Ends Friendship With 'Monster' Trump As He Calls For President To Be Removed From Office, Huffington Post, 8 Jan 2021
- Donald Trump denies storming out of Piers Morgan interview, The Guardian, 21 April 2022
- Transgender Advocate Janet Mock: Piers Morgan "Sensationalized" My Story, Buzzfeed News, 5 Feb 2014
- Piers Morgan slammed for transphobic comments on 'Good Morning Britain', Attitude (UK), 25 Sep 2018
- Emmerdale actor hits out at Piers Morgan for 'transphobic' gender rant, Cornwall News, 12 Sep 2019
- Labour’s Lisa Nandy clashes with Piers Morgan over trans rights on Good Morning Britain, The Independent, 10 March 2020
- Mirror editor 'bought £67,000 of shares before they were tipped', The Guardian, 23 Nov 2005
- What Piers Morgan told investigators about the City Slickers scandal, The Guardian, 13 Jun 2012
- Previously Unpublished Documents Show Piers Morgan Under Fire, The Daily Beast, 13 Jun 2012
- Piers Morgan claims over phone hacking branded 'utterly unpersuasive', The Guardian, 30 November 2012
- Piers Morgan questioned for a second time over phone-hacking allegations, The Guardian, 21 April 2015
- What Even He Can't Deny, Brian Cathcart, Byline Times, 21 Jan 2020
- Hugh Grant wins Trinity Mirror hacking case and names Piers Morgan as guilty editor, i News, 5 Feb 2018
- ‘Obsessed’ Piers Morgan illegally targeted Princess Diana and her friend James Hewitt, claim High Court Papers, Byline Investigates, 28 May 2021
- Piers Morgan Named in New Court Docs Over ‘Theft of Princess Diana Letters’, Byline Investigates, 22 November 2019
- Has Piers now got news for Ian?, The Guardian, 1 Sep 2002
- Ian Hislop: 'How did I celebrate Piers Morgan getting axed from CNN? I'm still celebrating', The Independent, 10 April 2014
- Piers Morgan: The man with no moral compass who found his destiny in a steadfast opposition to war, The Independent, 10 Oct 2011
- Inside Jeremy Clarkson and Piers Morgan’s feud – from a Concorde spat to a punch in the face, Metro, 2 November 2020
- Ewan McGregor snubs Good Morning Britain interview following Piers Morgan row, The Guardian, 24 Jan 2017
- Piers Morgan Slams 'Disgusting' Hugh Grant Over 'UK Is Finished' Comments, Huffington Post, 26 Jan 2020
- Where is Piers Morgan today on Good Morning Britain?, The Metro, 23 May 2018
- CNN axes Piers Morgan Live after collapse in ratings, The Guardian, 24 Feb 2014
- Piers Morgan leaving 'Good Morning Britain' after storming off set over his attacks on Meghan Markle by Oliver Darcy (Updated 2:13 PM ET, Tue March 9, 2021) CNN.