“I don’t usually agree with Piers Morgan, but…”
It’s a phrase which I’ve noticed creeping into conversations with increasing frequency. And, every single time, it’s caught me completely off-guard because, more often than not, it’s come from the many colleagues who aren’t fans of Piers Morgan. You know, those same colleagues who usually refer to him as “the Dark Lord” as we call him out on his ceaseless spew of argumentative rubbish.
This is, after all, the same guy who tweeted that male mental health sufferers needed to “man up” and help those who “REALLY need help” in the middle of Mental Health Awareness Week. Who publicly cast doubt on the testimonies of rape survivors. Who uses his social media platform to relentlessly bully the likes of Jameela Jamil and Meghan Markle. Who has made countless unhelpful comments about white privilege and racism. Who has been incredibly disrespectful of the LGBT+ community.
Who is famed for, above all else, saying truly awful things to women. Indeed, as Chrissy Teigen once famously tweeted, an overwhelming number of his columns take aim at women and people of colour.
So why are so many brilliant feminists throwing their lot in with this professional troll right now? Well, it’s because daytime TV’s most controversial mouthpiece has taken on the world’s leaders over the coronavirus pandemic. And it’s… it’s caught a lot of us off-guard, quite frankly.
Take, for instance, his recent column about Donald Trump. Once one of the controversial president’s most vocal supporters, Morgan admitted that he had been left positively enraged by Trump’s “batshit crazy” disinfectant corona cure,
“Shut the fuck up, President Trump,” he raged.
Speaking from behind his desk on Good Morning Britain, Morgan has similarly criticised the actions of our own government. He’s scolded Boris Johnson for terrifying people with false claims about Covid-19 entering our water supply. He’s called upon MPs to share the UK ‘s “real death toll” with viewers. He’s shared concerns about lockdown easing too early, noting that this “is an unfurling catastrophe and we’re no nearer beating the virus now than we were two months ago”. He’s reminded us that many of “the most elderly, vulnerable people in this country” have been denied palliative care. He shared footage of “zero social distancing” in London, noting that this could lead to the virus “spreading like wildfire” once again.
Above all else, though? He’s used his position in the spotlight to hold the government accountable for their actions. To interrogate their decisions. To examine the information provided. To ask questions on behalf of the general public.
Questions which, quite frankly, need to be answered.
While his new approach has won over some cautious new admirers, however, it’s worth noting that it has lost him some of his die-hard fans. Indeed, many GMB viewers have taken to Twitter to complain after he “repeatedly interrupted” Rishi Sunak during a conversation about his new economic measures for this crisis.
Morgan’s response to these complaints, though, was simple: “Ministers all get plenty of time to speak on GMB. But if they don’t answer the question, or lie, or obfuscate, or deliberately answer a different question, or say something stupid, then I will interrupt them to get a straight answer.
“It’s called journalism.”
The ongoing debate has caused the phrase ‘Remove Piers Morgan’ to begin trending on Twitter.
“Y’all want to remove Piers Morgan because for the first time he’s talkin sense and isn’t being a racist transphobic,” reads one atypical response to the furore.
“I am not a Morgan fan,” says another, “but at the moment we mostly lack journalists willing to ask the difficult questions and demand answers.”
And another notes: “For possibly the first time in his life, Piers Morgan seems to be doing a decent job of being a journalist, and I find myself agreeing with him more. Now ‘Remove Piers Morgan’ is trending? Definitely a sign he’s asking the right questions.”
I get it. Trust me, I get it. It’s incredibly hard to overcome your prejudices, especially when it’s someone as dangerously prejudiced as Morgan. Indeed, we here at Stylist were among those who accused the GMB host of “scaremongering” viewers with terrifying details about the pandemic. Details which, we hasten to add, went entirely against what the government was telling us at that time
“The government seems to be avoiding draconian ‘shutdown’ action now because we will all get too bored with it,” reads one such tweet of Morgan’s, shared weeks before the UK lockdown was announced.
“Trust me, nobody is going to be bored with coronavirus when it starts killing their relatives and friends. We’re in a war and everyone needs to wake the fuck up to it.”
Morgan hasn’t done a good job up until this point. He’s been deliberately controversial, in order to provoke reactions and stir up anger, and he’s used his platform to perpetuate hate. Now, though, he genuinely seems to be directing all of his energy into doing something good.
As he said in his interview with The Sunday Times: “Let’s put all the stupidity and the nonsense and the silliness and the point-scoring and the culture wars behind us. All that stuff has to be changed.
“We have to put all our concerted energy into being different people coming out of this. Better people. Because this whole crisis, I think, has been a recalibration for everybody, about everything. And to me, if it doesn’t make everybody recalibrate in some way, there’s something intrinsically wrong with you.”