Piers Morgan is coming to the US of A (again.) The shock jock/spurned-one-time-drinking-partner-of-Meghan-Markle-who-never-quite-got-over-it intends to broadcast a weekly show on Fox Nation for American audiences and write a column for The New York Post. He’ll presumably feel right at home with the publication that today is running an op-ed titled “Meghan Markle and Prince Harry — Time’s most insufferable” next to a news story about Meghan and Harry being “roasted” over their “airbrushed” Time 100 cover. Because moving on is overrated!
This isn’t the first time Morgan has tried to break America, and presumably he’s hoping it all goes a little better than the time he got axed from CNN after plunging ratings. At the time, he’d tried to make gun control his niche, positioning himself as a British guy who just knows better than all the silly Americans about what to do with their country. It’s an absolute wonder that didn’t work out for him.
In a rare moment of self-reflection, Morgan said at the time of his CNN show’s cancellation back in 2014: “Look, I am a British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns, which has been very polarizing, and there is no doubt that there are many in the audience who are tired of me banging on about it.” What he’ll bang on about on Fox and in the Post is yet to be revealed, but it presumably won’t be guns. Considering most Americans have “ranting about Meghan Markle” as their frame of reference for him and little beyond that (because, as aforementioned, they didn’t actually watch his CNN show), we can safely presume he’ll start out in that vein and maybe continue on through female celebrities who get on his nerves. He did, after all, recently take issue with Nicki Minaj (“one of the rudest little madams I’ve ever met,” according to his own tweet earlier in the week. Minaj responded: “Sir, I’ve never met you. I know… we all look alike.”) And back when US gymnast Simone Biles dropped out of some events at the Olympics, zero-time Olympic qualifier Morgan delivered a nice little rant about how she wasn’t “remotely courageous, heroic or inspiring”. Hey, who doesn’t love a wealthy, middle-aged white man yelling into the void about how much talented young women irritate him and need to respect the Queen?
The problem for Piers is that he doesn’t quite know who he is in the American landscape. Is he Tucker Carlson: far-right, shouty, slightly plastic, known for flirting with conspiracy theories for ratings? Is he Anderson Cooper: a winning combination of hard-hitting on-the-ground journalist and daytime show celebrity who appears in People magazine? Is he Simon Cowell: the token British man rolling his eyes and pulling up his trousers and saying no to make-up in the green room and sardonically responding to American optimism with hard-nosed pragmatism? Or is he James Corden: maligned in the UK, now celebrated in the States, and given to a well-timed rant about politics which doesn’t overstep the mark? One thing’s for sure — he ain’t John Oliver.
It feels like Piers wants to channel Cowell’s media personality, enjoy Corden’s trans-Atlantic success, have Cooper’s reputation, and get Carlson’s ratings. But there’s a reason each one of these men have doubled down on what they do rather than attempting to generalize. One might also point out that those seats are already taken.
It’s also difficult to imagine how Morgan will sit comfortably in the American right-leaning media. This isn’t like the British right-leaning media, where prejudice might be rife but universal healthcare is still a given and elections are generally assumed to have been conducted fairly. Saying you believe in free healthcare for all makes you a dangerous socialist in the pools he’s about to dip his toe into, and he’s either going to have to sink (by sticking to some basic British principles) or swim (by going full Tucker and abandoning any notion of returning to the UK a hero.) Fox News-style experiment GB News is already floundering after three months in the UK, with journalistic heavyweight Andrew Neil having announced he will resign from his chairman post mere days ago. It seems a strange time for Morgan to choose to dedicate his career to that particular brand of British right-leaning populism.
I should point out that Morgan is not actually moving to the US — why bother living in New York when you’re writing for The New York Post after all? That sounds like media establishment bullcrap! — but he will be hoping to build a trans-Atlantic following from News UK’s London Bridge studios. As a British expat reporter living and working in NYC, I’ve considered extending a hand of friendship to him, of course. But I do have the tendency to act like a rude little madam.
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