Piers Morgan: Hero or Villain?

  • @simmyrichman

Just as anybody who's serious about music is supposed to be sniffy about Simon Cowell, so anyone who's serious about journalism is not meant to think very highly of Piers Morgan: the man who one magazine recently described as having an "air of self-satisfaction which [he] wears like an aftershave".

For aftershave read body armour, because this cat who got the cream has also proved himself to have a feline's instinct for survival. In 2004, after a four-year investigation, the Department of Trade and Industry announced that it was unable to prosecute him for insider dealing "on the evidence currently available".

That same year, he was fired from his job as editor of the Daily Mirror for publishing "hoax" photographs of British soldiers torturing an Iraqi detainee.

And while others fell foul of the Leveson inquiry, Morgan – whose performance there was said to be "utterly unconvincing" – was free to resume his role as America's least-wanted chatshow host.

Which he did with no rise in ratings until, five days after the Sandy Hook school shooting, Morgan used the platform of his prime-time CNN show to call Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, "stupid" and "a dangerous man espousing dangerous nonsense".

Within weeks, a petition to deport Morgan, set up by the radio shock jock Alex Jones, had collected more than 100,000 signatures. So did our man cower in the face of a culture he didn't fully understand? Did he heck. Last week, he invited Jones to be his guest and gave him the perfect platform to, er, shoot himself in the foot.

Suddenly, our disgraced hack was a paragon of restraint in the face of a spewing, conspiracy-theory-addled lunatic. Suddenly, even those who'd been praying for Morgan to fail were cheering from the sidelines as ratings soared.

But before he gets even more smug with his new-found hero status, it's probably worth reminding him of the abomination that is ITV1's Life Stories.