It’s safe to say that Piers Morgan is someone many people love to hate. After he criticised America’s gun laws on his talk show, more than 100,000 Americans signed a petition on the White House website to have him deported.
Over 1,000 of his former countrymen also signed a counter petition declaring that he should stay in America – not out of sympathy, but because “we washed our hands of him a long time ago”. Now it looks like the former group have got their wish: CNN has cancelled Piers Morgan Live.
The reaction in some quarters has been predictably celebratory. Jeremy Clarkson, who has had a long-running feud with the former Daily Mirror editor, tweeted, “I understand that Nigerian TV is looking for a new chat show host. Anyone got any suggestions?” The BBC reports that other Twitter users “expressed disappointment that the axe which had fallen on Morgan was figurative and not literal”.
All these problems might have been forgiven if people were watching his show. But they weren’t. Morgan himself admitted that it had “been a painful period”, and that his show had “taken a bath in the ratings”.
Fair enough. But, as Neil Midgley points out in The Daily Telegraph, Morgan couldn’t win. Unlike British TV, there is little room for impartiality because CNN’s major competitors, MSNBC and Fox News, “both trumpet highly partisan political views”. However, when he did “venture his own opinions”, they didn’t “gain traction” because of his nationality.
As a result he faced a dilemma: either be “damned” for expressing his views, or be “disqualified from the competition” for being even-handed. Midgley also notes that the American chat show is “arguably the most exposed place in a network’s schedule, where hits are big and flops are fatal”.
The Guardian’s John Plunkett points out that Morgan isn’t the first British expatriate to fail stateside. He notes that, “while many British news executives have made it big behind the scenes”, few “have succeeded as presenters of US television news shows”.
David Carr of The New York Times agrees. “There are two things a presenter cannot have: an accent or a beard.” Sir David Frost, the television legend who forced Nixon to apologise for Watergate, and whose memorial service took place at the weekend, might be the obvious exception. But even he limited himself to occasional specials and “was not a chronic presence in American living rooms”.
It’s also clear that America’s love affair with guns is somewhat extreme. Thanks to a string of legal victories, not only are you allowed to own your own private arsenal for hunting or to protect your home, but you can now also carry weapons in public throughout the United States.
Indeed, as the Daily Mail reports, a bank employee in Florida is actually suing Wells Fargo because it wouldn’t let her bring her gun into work. Meanwhile, in crime-ridden Detroit, even the police chief is encouraging “good citizens” to buy guns.
Tabloid money: the bigger the fiddle, the more likely to get away with it
• Chris Moyles “sank into a moral cesspit by pretending to be an Arthur Daley selling used cars to save himself up to £1m tax”, says the Daily Mirror’s Kevin Maguire. Despite his tax avoidance scheme being judged “unacceptable”, he has responded with a “self-pitying statement” and by simply “shifting blame on to advisers he employed”… “where is the Channel 4 series Tax Dodge Crescent to show the other side to Benefits Street?”
Ignoring the “stinking financial scams” of rich celebrities in favour of an “unrelenting focus” on those getting benefits “distorts politics, creating an ideological assault on a welfare state that provides a social security net for most of us”, says Maguire. It also creates “damaging false impressions”.
While voters think that “£24 in every £100” spent on welfare is stolen through fraud, “the truth is 70p” in every £100 stolen. Indeed, “it seems the bigger the fiddle, the more likely you are to get away with it”.
• As far as the floods are concerned, The Sun’s Rod Liddle thinks “the real villains of the piece are the insurance companies”. Indeed, “they are doing everything to avoid paying out so much as a penny”. Other “pretty despicable” behaviour includes “charging desperate people premium call rates when they ring up to lodge their claims”.
Worst of all, people who bought “flood cover” have discovered that “buried somewhere in the small print was the news that they were not covered for flooding”.
• The Daily Mirror’s Paul Routledge may be a self-confessed “soccer know-nowt”, but he was moved by the death of Sir Tom Finney, the 91-year-old “football great” who “was a real gent”. Despite Finney’s talent and fame, “he earned £14 a week, and turned down an offer of £120 a week plus £10,000 sign-on fee from an Italian side”.
Of course, “today’s Premier League players earn more in a week than he did in a lifetime with his home town club”. However, “none will live in England’s memory like he does”.