There will be whoops and cheers from the enemies of Piers Morgan and of free speech. But as Walpole said about the War of Jenkins Ear, a delightful piece of fake news, “now they are ringing the bells but soon they will be wringing their hands”. Well, it has started. This morning GMB ratings slumped by 5.4%. And it will get worse.
Most people assumed that GMB was the ratings leader of breakfast television. It was. But only once. The Day of The Confrontation. The BBC has been well ahead for years. The sad thing is that as worthy, competent and really nice the presenters are, it is desperately, bollock clenchingly, narcolepticly dull. Enough to send Captain Oates out of his tent and never come back.
Until Piers came along breakfast tv was just a bit of a waxworks with some background noise . Safe, cuddly people, who politely asked prepared questions, usually written by somebody else and was complemented by preprepared answers, usually written by somebody else too. And then Morgan exploded onto our screens. Brash, opinionated and often rude. Wonderful. Ministers were so terrified of the prospect of being grilled by him that they they boycotted the programme for over sixty days. Boris Johnson hid in a fridge live on air. Brilliant television. It gripped the nation when we wanted answers.The reason, myself included, we thought that GMB was the breakfast brand leader was because everyone had an opinion about Piers. He was breakfast news. He started debates in pubs, in clubs, in restaurants and in court. Usher’s would wander up to me a say, ‘you’ll never believe what your mate Piers has said this morning’.
I have known Piers Morgan since he was a young student at Harlow College studying journalism. I showed him round Parliament. We are friends, but not besties. I haven’t seen him socially since I left journalism to go back to practising at the bar. You see the arrogance, the confidence and the sometimes going well over the top. I see something different. I remember a young editor who showed me nothing but kindness as a young MP. Someone who gave me support when I was in some pretty deep water. Someone who gave me encouragement and kindness when I entered the Fleet Street shark tank.
These are the kindnesses and loyalty that you never forget. He probably won’t even remember them. But I do. You won’t believe me, but he actually is one of the good guys in an ocean swimming with shits.
I really haven’t a clue whether Meghan or Harry is telling the truth. I just see two damaged people trapped in a weird, outdated institution who need help. They are survivors and I wish them well. But so is the Queen, she never wanted the job. Nor did her mother or her father. Her father was treated appallingly by his father who punished him for being left handed. The awful thing is that the appalling treatment of Harry and Meghan by the press is par for the course. Diana trashed. Charles and Camilla trashed. The Queen Mother, ‘cookie’ trashed. Her husband, ‘not up to it’. Prince Philip trashed for being a Greek and an outsider. Princess Margaret trashed. It goes on and on but has to stop. Sadly, I haven’t got a clue how.
Now back to Piers. In many ways this experience has made him very very bankable. His enemies, the passed over journalists, the wannabe editors, the safe but shit presenters and those who hate any sort of free speech will be frothing at the mouth at any success that will follow. And it will. I give you one prediction. He will be the first British journalist to get an exclusive with Joe Biden. Why? Because he showed him an act of kindness after the death of Biden’s son Beau.