Piers Morgan's Twitter profile made highly apposite reading yesterday morning. Against the background of a picture of him sharing a joke with Nelson Mandela (surely the pinnacle of Morgan's famous-by-association photo album) is a quote that says: "One day you're cock of the walk, the next a feather duster."
He claims that it's his family motto, but it's certainly not a Morgan original. I've heard it used by a few people down the years, and it was actually employed in the dialogue of the film Mad Max.
Anyway, we can all agree that Piers Morgan is no longer a creature of rare plumage, having been fired by the American cable network CNN. With some considerable fanfare, he had succeeded the legendary Larry King on the station's flagship interview show at the beginning of 2011. Morgan's gift for self-publicity has been well practised throughout a career that has seen more ups and downs than a Blackpool big dipper, but while he himself became more of a public figure in the United States, the audience figures for his show meanwhile declined.
Given that Morgan was once frogmarched out of the editor's office at the Daily Mirror by security men, was subject to public opprobrium after he was duped into printing fake pictures of British troops in Iraq, has survived an inquiry into insider trading and has recently been questioned over phone hacking, I doubt that the loss of his interview show will throw him off balance for long. In fact, the media world has rarely seen a more adroit tightrope walker than Piers Morgan. I have a fondness for Morgan, which is based on his personal appeal rather than his professional rectitude.
I have known him for more than a decade and I enjoy his quick-wittedness and his humour and admire his indefatigability. He is capable of jaw-dropping braggadocio and finds it impossible to keep his own counsel. Journalism attracts all sorts of people from all sorts of backgrounds: the needy, the seedy and the greedy, and, in an increasingly homogenous world, is all the better for it.
But, for Morgan, that was never going to work in America. Up to a point, they are prepared to indulge a Limey bigmouth (cf Simon Cowell), but that point was always going to be reached. And it was probably his stand on gun crime which, as well as being brave and passionately argued and turning him into a truly national celebrity (how's that for personal PR?), did for him. (His non-stop tweets about Kevin Pietersen and Arsenal FC cannot have struck much of a chord with the American public, either).
When CNN signed Morgan, the network embraced his maverick tendency, so it can hardly have been a surprise when he went on about gun crime. Morgan himself admitted that his one-note crusade made him sound like the man in the bar banging on relentlessly about the same thing. And the great American public clearly felt a mixture of ennui and indignation. Who is this little guy from this little country, telling us what's wrong with our constitution? It was, quite literally, a turn-off.
He's a feather duster today, all right, but I wouldn't bet against Piers Morgan finding something to crow about again.