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April 18, 2007

Piers Morgan is the most awful hypocrite - but at least he is honest about his hypocrisy, argues Harry Phibbs: Don't you know who I am? - Piers Morgan

Posted by Harry Phibbs

Don't you know who I am? Insider Diaries of Fame, Power and Naked Ambition
by Piers Morgan
London: Ebury Press
Hardback, 17.99

Piers Morgan is, to coin a phrase, deeply shallow. While the first volume of Morgan's diaries was full of "gosh imagine little old me meeting Tony Blair/Rupert Murdoch/The Princess of Wales , etc.", this volume switches to his life after being ousted as Mirror editor and laments his change of status. So we have all this self pitying "Gosh. Now I'm not editor of the Mirror anymore nobody cares about me."

It still reads like a child has written it but the difference is that the child has gone into a sulk. He wonders around America presenting some ghastly pop music talent competition agonising over the ratings - and when high ratings figures come through worrying why people don't seem to recognise him in the street.

He has no interest in political policies or ideas but is highly interested in politicians. The most important thing about politicians is whether they like Piers or not. (Gordon Brown does, Tony Blair doesn't.) Piers presents a TV series interviewing politicians, jointly with Amanda Platell.

Amidst the self pity, Morgan clings to small incidents to show he does still have a certain amount of influence. Interviewing Sharon Osbourne for GQ magazine at the Groucho Club she and her PR minder, Garry Farrow, indicate they would like something to eat.

The waiter informed us that we couldn't have a sandwich in the restaurant because it wasn't open yet - it was 6.10pm - but we could have one in the bar next door.

Sharon did not take this news well. "That's f****** ridiculous." And she was right it was. "I want to see the manager."

A minute later the manageress of the Groucho restaurant arrived and we politely explained the nonsense of not being able to eat a sandwich in the restaurant but being allowed to eat one in the bar.

She pondered the issue for several moments and then declared solemnly, "if this is an absolute first and last, and I have an assurance that you will not tell other people about it, then I will allow a sandwich to be served here."

Sharon, Gary and I all gave equally solemn assurances.

A rare triumph.

Feuds and friendships figure prominently. Often drifting back and forth from one to the other. Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger got his comeuppance with Morgan. In his latest volume of diaries Piers Morgan records having lunch with Rusbridger at The Ivy. Rusbridger "obsessed" with discovering Morgan's pay off and persuaded Morgan to tell him "in strictest confidence."

Morgan gave Rusbridger a figure "ever so slightly different to the
real one". The inaccurate figure then appeared in the Media Diary of The Observer, sister paper to The Guardian. Recently I noticed that Morgan interviewed Rusbridger and asked Rusbridger about his hypocrisy in taking a huge salary while attacking fat cats, his decision to send his children to fee paying schools, etc, etc.....

These will have been similarly awkward questions that Morgan would have faced as editor of The Mirror. While collecting a huge salary and sending his children to fee paying schools (he expresses his delight in the diaries about his son getting into Charterhouse), he would sit in his office approving editorials denouncing the rich and greedy with special venom reserved for the hypocritical.

So there is an upside to Morgan's character. His self absorption includes rigorous self awareness and self criticism. For example he acknowledges the irony of denouncing the "famous for being famous" celebrities while acknowledging that as a former newspaper editor he slides into that category himself. He also acknowledges the further irony of presenting a TV series on the futility of celebrity, complete with interviews of those who don't merit their fame. Thus making them, and him, that little bit more famous.

His cheeky chappie childishness gives him the courage to confront the famous and powerful and to take risks. His love of perks and freebies is pretty embarrassing - especially given the eagerness of the press to denounce sleaze at the most tenuous opportunity. But at least he is honest about it.

Another point is that Morgan was rather a good tabloid newspaper editor. It was right that he should have been sacked for printing faked photographs of British soldiers supposedly abusing Iraqi prisoners without taking the trouble to check them out sufficiently. Their publication was a disaster.

But generally Piers had the qualities needed to be a good tabloid editor - most importantly a short attention span.

What of the future? The diaries disclose an intriguing business venture. Pers writes Piers in the entry for April 11 2005:

Tea with Mohamed Al Fayed at Harrods.

"Let's buy a newspaper," he announced. "You'd be the editor and between us we'll get rid of these Labour bastards who are ruining the country."

"But then we'd just get the Tory bastards back again," I said.

"You're right. They're all bastards, aren't they?"

It would be genuinely funny running a paper with Mohamed. Maybe I should do it.

All papers should be owned by megalomaniac billionaires with axes to grind: they'd be so much more entertaining, not to mention fearless.

God save us all.

Harry Phibbs is a journalist.


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At last night's "America's Got Talent" piers Morgan was quietly put in place by a humble John Beatty (God bless him). Piers looked truly humilliated which, of course, made my decade. Maybe he will start being less of a snob and more of the gentleman he claims to be.

Posted by: Redskin at July 1, 2010 01:38 AM
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