There was no doubting Piers Morgan’s breathless enthusiasm for Sunday’s Diamond Jubilee flotilla. But the broadcaster’s hyperbolic commentary for CNN has been skewered by the US satirist Jon Stewart, whose ruthless lampoon on the Daily Show became an instant web hit.
Morgan hit back at the “sneering” Stewart after watching his awestruck analysis of the boat parade torn apart on the Comedy Central show.
In a segment titled “The Queen who stares at boats”, Stewart mocked Morgan’s promise of an “an orgy of excitement” on the Thames. “A fuckfest of marvellousness, a gang-bang of awesome,” suggested Stewart, adopting an English accent.
CNN’s “trained journalistic eye” had produced descriptions such as “what an amazing scene…never seen a spectacle quite like this, fantastic”, culminating in “absolutely remarkable” for the Royal Barge’s “rapid-fire 360 turn”.
Stewart said: “I’m getting word that there’s a schooner doing a K-turn. Is this the British equivalent of a monster truck show?”
Observing the Royal party attempting a jig to the Sailor’s Hornpipe, the satirist said: “They’re not dancing, they’re shivering. People can’t tell the difference between fun and hypothermia?”
Morgan had talked up the “spectacular” RAF fly-past, due to conclude the events (“the only thing still keeping her (the Queen) alive”, said Stewart) but was forced to announce “breaking news”.
This must be the plane crash in Nigeria, in which 153 passengers were killed, suggested Stewart, as “real life intrudes into the fairytale”. But Morgan revealed the “very, very sad news” that poor weather had forced the cancellation of the fly-past.
“It’s one of two very sad airplane stories of the day,” Stewart conceded.
John Oliver, the Daily Show’s Senior English Correspondent, delivered the coup de grâce, from London: “Obviously it’s impossible to look at what’s happening here and not think about what it represents. The sad, last gasp of a once-powerful empire, its best days long behind it, desperately trying to conjure up a happier time when it was something more than a decaying wreck.”
Stewart replied: “That’s a harsh thing to say about your own homeland.” “No, I was talking about CNN,” said Oliver. The station that once “owned the Gulf War”, “reduced to Piers Morgan spending two hours talking about barges.”
An unbowed Morgan, whose audience has slumped by 50 per cent amid poor CNN viewing figures reported this month, responded with a tweet: “So the Queen's concert got 8 times as many viewers as #JonStewart last night - stick that up your sneering pipe and smoke it, ‘buddy’.”
But the Brit also saw the funny side, retweeting the Daily Show sketch with the message: “OK, this is very naughty but very funny.”
Morgan also tweeted: “Brace yourself #JonStewart - I'm about to go live again, and I'm almost breathlessly excited." And when crowds gathered in front of Buckingham Palace: "Bet #JonStewart is watching this and secretly thinking: 'Wow, I wish I was British.'"
Tweeters who shared the Stewart sketch said it was fortunate that he had not alighted upon the BBC’s much-criticised coverage of Sunday’s event.
Meanwhile ITV prompted controversy with its Jubilee coverage yesterday when it pitched the historian Dr David Starkey against Prof Simon Schama, who was commentating on the service of thanksgiving for BBC1. Starkey called Nicolas Sarkozy a “nasty jumped up little spiv” and his successor as French President, Francois Hollande, “a second rate provincial school master”.