As a young, millennial female, it's probably unusual for me to like Piers Morgan. But as a journalist, who began her career in the tabloid press, I have always admired and respected him. While I haven’t always shared his views, I’ve thought him, for the most part, fair and on point.
When it comes to holding power to account he is tenacious and single-minded. He is like a dog with a bone until a politician answers his questions. Lesser broadcasters let cabinet ministers obfuscate with endless hot-air; Piers is relentless in his drive to pin them down. His TV interviews are also undeniably entertaining.
This not only makes him a brilliant broadcaster but also one of the country’s most important assets during the Covid-19 crisis. Few journalists have been as effective at finding out what the nation needs to know from visibly panicking ministers as Piers has.
But I have found his bizarre public tantrum over Meghan’s mental health and racism revelations not just cringeworthy but also deeply troubling. His flouncing off set when presented with Alex Beresford’s cool, calm and considered words screamed to me of an embarrassed man who ultimately knew he was in the wrong. But his unedifying display on national telly goes further than just to make him look like a fool.
His initial refusal to believe that Meghan felt suicidal and subsequent doubling-down on the position is not only astounding but also grossly irresponsible for a person with such a platform.
What are his fans, many of whom may be battling their own mental ill health, supposed to make of his strange statement? That they, too, may be told they’re lying? That should they admit how they feel they may be met with judgement, scepticism and scorn? That their feelings are not something they feel but a matter for somebody else to decide? What's more, how exactly does Piers expect Meghan to prove she was telling the truth?
Regardless of Piers’ personal opinion of Meghan it’s a shame that such a talented journalist has decided to speak so carelessly about such an important topic. I don’t believe he is an unthinking or even uncompassionate person. But it seems he has become so consumed with his feelings for a woman he doesn’t really know that he’s allowed it to skew his judgement.
Freedom of speech is a 'hill I’m happy to die on,’ he announced. But freedom of speech and talking down someone's mental health troubles is not the same thing. Piers is entitled to hold his view about Meghan. But he is not entitled to decide how Meghan did or did not feel.
I’ve been fortunate to not suffer with what Meghan has but I know people that have. I’m sure that many people, in fact, know someone suffering with poor mental health right now. This is because it can affect anyone at any time. No one is immune to it: not even royalty.
ITV will inevitably suffer a ratings fall as a result of Morgan's departure. Their shares have already taken a massive tumble. He was their star presenter and the only reason many people tuned in to Good Morning Britain. But even so, ITV was right to make this call about Morgan's future.
Saying on national television that somebody – whoever they are – is not telling the truth about their mental health is unacceptable, not to mention rather cruel. While Morgan's tenacity and bullishness may be admirable qualities when facing down slippery politicians, they are not aiding Piers now in the only thing that could redeem him in the eyes of many – to apologise.