Controversial media man Piers Morgan, whose CNN slot was cancelled earlier this year amidst falling ratings and widespread criticism of his stance on gun control, has been appointed Editor-at-Large (US) for MailOnline. Although the company nominally takes a conservative position, Morgan has already sparked outrage in America for his liberal views, including his attacks on 2nd Amendment rights.
A statement on the MailOnline reads “Piers, one of the best known journalistic faces on both sides of the Atlantic, joins MailOnline from CNN where he was host of Piers Morgan Live from 2011 until 2014.
“He will write several times each week, bringing his own experience and perspective to bear on the big US stories of the moment.
“He will continue contributing a weekly column to the Mail on Sunday newspaper and hosting Piers Morgan’s Life Stories on ITV in Britain.”
Morgan is said to be “very excited” at the prospect of returning to written journalism, his “first love as a journalist”.
The MailOnline, and its British dead tree versions the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday are right leaning publications, supportive of the Conservative Party in Britain. The website has a huge readership worldwide thanks separate front pages for the US, US, India and Australia. However, right wing American audiences are unlikely to warm to Pier’s brand of politics any more on paper (or computer) than they did when he was on screen.
In 2011 Morgan took over the ‘Larry King slot’ on CNN with his show Piers Morgan Live, in which he interviewed a host of personalities including Bill Clinton, Warren Buffett and Oprah Winfrey. The show was axed in March as ratings plummeted. Commenting on the show’s demise, Morgan told the New York Times “Look, I am a British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns, which has been very polarising, and there is no doubt that there are many in the audience who are tired of me banging on about it.”
Yet that didn’t stop him from using his very last show to launch into a diatribe against gun ownership, saying “my point is simple: more guns doesn’t mean less crime, as the NRA repeatedly says. It means more gun violence, death and profits for the gun manufacturers. And to those who claim my gun control campaigning has been “anti-American,” the reverse is true. I am so pro-American that I want more of you to stay alive. But I’ve made my point. I’ve given it a tremendous whack. Now it’s down to you. It’s your country; these are your gun laws. And the senseless slaughter will only end when enough Americans stand together and cry: Enough!”
It was a point he had made many times before, including in a segment just after the July 2012 massacre in Colorado in which he invited Alex Jones to debate him on the subject. He opened the segment with his views on gun ownership, saying “here is my position loud and clear: I am in favour of a nationwide ban on military style semi-automatic assault weapons and high capacity magazines. I want to close the gun show loopholes and require private dealers to run background checks on buyers at gun shows. And I want to see the President increase federal funding for mental health treatment for all Americans who need it.
“I think these are entirely reasonable reactions to the outrages that have occurred in America over the last few months.”
More than 104,000 Americans signed a petition calling on the Obama Administration to “Deport British Citizen Piers Morgan for Attacking [the] 2nd Amendment”.
Morgan is no more popular on this side of the pond. Ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife Cherie once labelled him “a man with no moral compass”. Morgan hit back with a piece in the Spectator in which he claimed he had told Tony Blair “I would appreciate it if you stopped the missus trying to get me sacked.”
In 2000 as editor of the Mirror he was found to have bought shares in Viglen Technology shortly before his financial columnist tipped the company. Although the columnist was forced off the paper, Morgan survived the scandal with his job intact.
Two years later he paid the royal butler Paul Burrell £300,000 for exclusive details of the late Princess Diana’s life, a move widely panned as being disrespectful and distasteful, although it did increase sales. In April of that year he told the Independent “I always try and celebrate a massive error – preferably with a few bottles of chilled Krug and a jug of Jack Daniels. It’s the only way … and you then have that blissful moment in the morning when you’re so hungover you literally can’t remember your crime.”
His high octane style -and is love of stirring via Twitter – was much in evidence during his tenure with CNN. When Sarah Palin turned down an invitation to appear on his show by writing on her Facebook page “Oh dear Piers, thank you so much for all your invitations to appear on your shambolic show,” and accompanying the post with a picture of a bear she had just shot with the caption “Piers, kind of busy right now!”, Morgan took to Twitter to shoot back “Being called ‘shambolic’ by @SarahPalinUSA is most amusing. I wonder if she can see irony from her house?”
The New York Times has also pointed to a more intrinsic problem with Morgan’s appointment at CNN; one that applies equally to his new appointment at MailOnline. The article’s author, David Carr, wrote “When I find Mr. Morgan telling me what it all means, I have a reflex to dismiss what he is saying. It is difficult for him to speak credibly on significant American events because, after all, he just got here.” The same can be said of a Brit writing on American news stories for an American audience.