As headline after misleading headline pursues the smooth-talking Brit, you have to wonder what is going through the journalistic minds of our US friends: Bring back Larry King?
But today he has my sympathy as American newspapers,magazines and websites pile on to his reputation, headlining innuendo, half-truths and the plain wrong statements perpetrated by MP Louise Mensch in that notorious session in Parliament last week. Heaven help us, if in the promised new drive to curb the press, she is the one in charge of the hanging party.
Mind you the hysteria is not confined to America . Jon Snow of Channel 4 , fooled by a fake twitter account, tweeted that Piers had been suspended by CNN.
“Sorry to disappoint you all, but I'm afraid poor old @jonsnowC4 got duped by a fake Twitter account. I've not been suspended by CNN,” Morgan tweeted. Minutes later CNN said in a statement: “Rumours about Piers Morgan being suspended are untrue. Thanks to those who checked and set the record straight!”
New York Newsday started off its coverage today with remarks about a 2009 old Desert Island Discs interview "CNN knew Piers Morgan had a colorful past as a London tabloid editor when the network installed him as Larry King's replacement this year, but surely didn't anticipate how that personal history would ensnare him months into his new job."Ensnare him? Desert Island discs? On the Gawker website, the heading reads, "The Noose Tightens Around Piers Morgan’s Neck." The text reads, "Lispy CNN host Piers Morgan's increasingly desperate claims to have had no knowledge of phone hacking during his time as editor of the Daily Mirror just got a little harder to believe: The Telegraph and Daily Beast have published audio of Morgan admitting to a BBC Radio interviewer in 2009 that he played all kinds of dirty tricks." Yes, Desert island Discs. Entertainment Weekly says, "The phone-hacking scandal that has wounded Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and shuttered theNews of the World tabloid newspaper is also now threatening CNN’s Piers Morgan." Desert Island Discs again! TV Newser talks of the 2009 interview that has been making the rounds (thanks to Guido Fawkes) "alleging to prove" that Morgan knew about hacking at his newspaper, The Daily Mirror. But TV Newser also says - as The Drum has already reported - that Forbes magazine's Jeff Bercovici found that , the “smoking gun” was “not so smoky.” To cap all this there was the fake tweet balls-up by Jon Snow . A Red faced Mr Snow swiftly apologised What did Morgan actually say on Desert island Discs to Kirsty Young (no relation, though in her company in a Glasgow pub, I once pretended she was my cousin). Kirsty asked about "all that nasty down-in-the gutter stuff" from tabloid papers. Morgan said, "To be honest, let’s put that in perspective as well. Not a lot of that went on. A lot of it was done by third parties rather than the staff themselves. That’s not to defend it, because obviously you were running the results of their work. I’m quite happy to be parked in the corner of tabloid beast and to have to sit here defending all these things I used to get up to, and I make no pretence about the stuff we used to do. I simply say the net of people doing it was very wide, and certainly encompassed the high and the low end of the supposed newspaper market." In other words, says TV Newser, Morgan was essentially reiterating what he had said in his autobiography and elsewhere: seedy practices (including hacking) were widespread in the U.K. tabloid world at the time. He seemingly acknowledged that the Mirror was no saint, but that is par for the course at most major world tabloids. TV Week says in its headline "Piers Morgan's Name Continues to Come Up in Hacking Case." It is, of course quoting the Daily Beast, and, yes, Desert Island Discs. And of course Piers's name has not come up in any hacking case and their story doesn't say so. So much for headline writers. Morgan said his remarks on Kirsty's show were consistent with comments he has made more recently. “Millions of people heard these comments when I first made them in 2009 on one of the BBC’s longest-running radio shows, and none deduced that I was admitting to, or condoning illegal reporting activity "As I have said before, I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, nor to my knowledge published any story obtained from the hacking of a phone.” On Film Industry Network, Iain Alexander is sympathetic . He writes that, "everyone from Sky News to the New York Times has analysed every conversation (Piers) has had about the nature of the hacking and added more shreds of evidence, essentially twisting the facts." In fact , after the damaging headlines, many of the outlets go on to pour cold water on the story. As Bercovici said in Forbes, the interview was nothing close to a smoking gun. "Trash-sifting and paparazzi photography are very different matters from phone hacking. Morgan acknowledged that “I used to get up to” some of those things, but he never said which." Bercovici concluded,"If this is the best evidence that anyone has against him, Morgan can sleep easy tonight." Well that might have been true if it hadn't been for all the American luvvies who can't stand a Brit replacing Larry King , piling on to the bandwagon. Now if you really want to see someone who doesn't like admitting getting her facts wrong, take eight minutes out to watch the Louise Mensch baloneyfest. Update: She has now in fact apologised.