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Home > Media

Piers Morgan: Just a twat, really

27 May 2004

After Piers Morgan, editor of the Mirror and author of Philip Schofield: To Dream a Dream (1992) was sacked, the great and good of British journalism, including Roy Greenslade and Harold Evans, offered their condolences. Evans, a former Times editor, commented: 'It's sad that such a great editor with such good enterprise has had to go.'

Even the little people mourned: 'For all Piers Morgan's faults, he was the only tabloid editor to criticise the government from the left,' wrote one Guardian reader. All in all, the consensus seemed to be that rogueish Piers had taken one risk too many but was nonetheless a brave editor who'd dared to oppose the


Piers Morgan is a self-serving self-publicist. The furore over the fake pictures has to be seen in the context of a vicious circulation battle with The Sun. What was really on Piers' mind when he decided to publish the photos? Was it:

A. This is valid contribution to the debate over the morality of the war in Iraq

B. Fuck me! It's a squaddie pissing on someone! Those cunts at the Sun haven't got anything like this! This is going to shift some units!

Let's not forget what Morgan did. He published pictures whose validity was in question from the start. These weren't harmless frauds like the Hitler Diaries or pictures of Nessie: these pictures had the potential to inflame Arab opinion and lead, pretty directly, to violence against British soldiers and Westerners in general. When the pictures were revealed to be fake, Morgan sidestepped the issue by saying they were reconstructions. It's like thinking you should be let off a shoplifting charge because you'd have paid for the goods if you'd happened to have the money.

Newspapers have their own political biases and their own axes to grind, but actually publishing falsehoods is fundamentally wrong. And the idea that the Mirror was duped is fairly dodgy. If there's serious doubt over a story's authenticity, you don't take the risk. If TFT was told that David Beckham was in fact an arch-paedophile (DAVID BECKHAM IS NOT, REPEAT, NOT A PAEDOPHILE, just in case our good, good friends at Schillings are still reading) but the evidence was questionable, we wouldn't publish it. And we'd just like to reiterate the point that DAVID BECKHAM IS NOT A PAEDOPHILE.

The defence that the fake pictures are reconstructions doesn't stand up either. Are we saying that everyone with a point to make is entitled to mock up images to suit their agenda? Maybe the Daily Mail should be allowed to mock up images of Bosnian asylum seekers selling heroin to children while rat boy burglars get free holidays paid for by the police and loony lefties give state handouts to sex offenders? Because that's what they sincerely seem to believe is going on.

The problem seems to be that people like Piers Morgan (ie. newspaper editors) think they can do whatever the hell they like Morgan's cavalier attitude to, er, everything is evident. Anyone remember the 'Achtung! Surrender!' headline? This incredibl backward piece of casual racism dressed up as humour ranks
alongside 'Gotcha!' for sheer idiocy. There's also a secondary level of offensiveness arising from the fact that tabloid newspapers seem to think they can shamelessly manipulate their readers into espousing deeply offensive views, whether it's dehumanising the Argies or hating the Germans.

Mirror readers may not be sharpest tools in the box, or indeed tools that even begin to approach the sharpness of spoons, but even they (Mirror readers, not spoons) surely object to being lied to so that some newspaper editor can further his own career.

Because that's what the faked pictures are about, not brave journalists challenging the powers that be.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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