One day I want to meet someone who likes Piers Morgan. Not because we could ever be friends but because I will be able to ask them: ‘how?’ Piers has that amazing Lena Dunham quality of being famous without appearing to have any actual fans. I am not certain that this person who likes him exists. Imagine meeting some ordinary bloke down the pub who says ‘yeah I really like how down to earth and in touch Bono is’ – it’s just not conceivable. Here is one of those rare universal truths that remains universally true in a post-truth world: Piers Morgan is a wanker.
There are young Americans, mostly men, who will teach themselves a plausible posh English accent, so that they can go to bars and trick people into sleeping with them. I know this because, as an actual English person living in America, I’ve met several strangers who are skeptical at first that I really am from the UK until I get bored of insisting and show them my passport.
There are also groups of English boys who take trips to America because they’ve seen adverts on the Tube telling them to “visit a place where your accent is an aphrodisiac”. I once met a group of these Axe-scented sex tourists when I lived in North Carolina, not because I wanted to talk to them, but because a bartender friend gave me a free drink to go and explain to them the importance of tips to service workers in this country. I brought up tipping three times in twenty minutes, probably sounding like a lunatic, and gently reminded them that the accent doesn’t actually work if you have nothing interesting to say. I later heard the tossers still didn’t leave a tip. They also didn’t get laid.
Yes, it helps that you can be drunkenly slurring and still be taken more seriously than when you’re in the same state back home. Yes, you have a valuable ten extra seconds of first impression time that can get you talking to someone. But that’s it. I try to tell visiting Brits, it’s not a power worth abusing – if you think Americans are too stupid to see the mediocrity behind the accent, you’re going to be found out in no time. You can’t just come over here and expect that your pathetic vapidity will be impossible to unmask.
This is how you create Piers Morgan.
Piers was once a capable young administrator of the more insidiously moronic end of the British newspaper industry. He was head-hunted by Kelvin MacKenzie, Rupert Murdoch’s most deplorable liar-in-chief in the UK, and he took to the Murdoch empire’s internal culture so naturally that at only 29 years old he was made editor of the now-defunct News of the World, a charmless right-wing tabloid that specialized in invasions of privacy. Morgan got into hot water when he violated the editors’ code of conduct, leading Murdoch to reluctantly comment that “the boy went too far” – but only to avoid a privacy law action.
Luckily, young Piers was offered the editorship of the Daily Mirror, a charmless left-wing* tabloid in which his foulness somehow managed to survive for some time. This was despite numerous personal scandals: for instance, he made Nazi jokes in headlines about the German football team; and he breached the code of financial journalism when he bought shares in a company – Viglen – the day before publishing an exclusive that significantly boosted Viglen’s share price. Morgan was eventually forced out of the job when he published fake photos of British soldiers torturing Iraqis and refused to apologize when the fraud was discovered.
We also now know that Morgan’s editorial leadership probably oversaw illegal phone-hacking. Lord Leveson’s famous inquiry into press ethics found that evidence relating to Morgan’s behavior in both papers “clearly proves that he was aware that it was taking place in the press as a whole and that he was sufficiently unembarrassed by what was criminal behavior that he was prepared to joke about it.”
Morgan soon re-emerged as a self-sculpted TV personality, because for him the only real thrill of wanking comes from exhibitionism. Channel 4 gave him a current affairs interview slot where he pretended to be left wing, but later confiscated it due to poor viewing figures. He judged Britain’s Got Talent because someone somewhere deemed him capable of identifying talent, but since Simon Cowell had already claimed the lucrative territory of needlessly-mean-tosser-with-no-discernible-artistic-merit-himself, Piers Morgan wasn’t able to impress anyone.
Until he realized the power of the plummy wanker abroad.
Over the ocean, he had powerful connections just like he did back home; but there, the masses didn’t yet know (and therefore, inevitably, detest) him. In the New World he could wank himself anew, and maybe it would take longer for consumers to see and thus reject his obvious vacuity. In 2011 he somehow cadged Larry King’s CNN slot to make Piers Morgan Live, and began with triple King’s usual viewing figures. But, like the discerning locals at the bar, once America got used to hearing his voice after only two episodes, they realized that Piers was too vacuous even for the average CNN viewer, and his ratings tumbled feebly.
In those days Morgan sketched out a sort of liberal paternalism as his persona, which makes sense. Having only got his job thanks to his accent and his reputation among elites as a willing and greedy bootlicker, but having experienced the joy of faking a liberal affect as a means to patronize people, Piers Morgan could get paid to annoy a nation who’d never invited him by posturing as a token British pantomime villain.
He courted controversy when he criticized the NRA and the second amendment. This would be noble, except that Piers was only doing what he’d always done: use a position of privileged access in the media, which he’d gained thanks to personal connections rather than actual popularity, to talk to an audience who never wanted to hear from him in the first place. Writing on the cancelation of Piers Morgan Live, David Carr of the NYT suggested that “Mr. Morgan’s approach to gun regulation was more akin to King George III, peering down his nose at the unruly colonies”. It’s not that his views on gun control are bad per se, it’s that he only went there because he’s a wanker.
And yet despite being rejected by America’s TV audiences he still clings to his self-appointed relevance, as US editor-at-large for the Mail Online, explaining America to an audience whose existence doesn’t make sense. Who actually wants to know what Piers Morgan thinks about a subject? Not the British public he fled from. Not the American public who saw just another red-faced sex tourist and found him tedious. Perhaps Lord Rothermere has some time for Morgan’s odious character, otherwise he wouldn’t be on the tax-dodging Mail owner’s payroll; but it’s clear from his tepid enthusiasm that Piers gets no real thrill from tossing himself off before that particular crowd of knuckle-draggers.
No, the approval Morgan really craves now, the fantasy audience he really desires to shower him in gold, is Donald Trump.
Who better? Piers Morgan has no values. He worships wealth. He adores being the center of attention but couldn’t care less if that attention is filled with loathing. He lives to talk down to people. He fetishizes fame for its own sake. Piers looks at Donald Trump, sees an empty receptacle for everything that’s wrong with the world, and finally sees someone just like him, being so validated that he is handed the full machinery of empire.
Though he doesn’t know it, Piers Morgan is designed to prop up the empire – he was just born too late to administrate the British one. The repulsiveness of British elites is ancient, that cold upper class with its superhuman ability to ignore the violence on which its wealth and power is built. The true brutality of Anglo Saxon oppression was left to a caste of vicious dullards who got the satisfaction of inflicting pain on subjected colonies without ever being allowed into the ranks of high society.
But while Piers Morgan may sound like he’s from the same privately educated set as David Cameron, in truth his family ran out of money for independent school fees and he ended up in the local comprehensive, where he was bullied. He had a taste of upper class haughtiness, and was then forced to spend time fraternizing with the great unwashed that British private school alumni are raised to detest.
Bereft of wealth but retaining that monumental sense of entitlement, Morgan was never given his birthright of cool indifference. He missed out on the bonding rituals. He never got to play soggy biscuit with the other chaps. He was never offered the chance to fuck the pig. But now that Trump is in charge, poor insecure Piers can finally get a bite of the soggiest biscuit there is.
The vile purple-faced masters of the British Empire have had for centuries the most powerful mute button in the universe, able to ignore almost any pain it caused. After all, how could such entitlement survive intact if had been able to hear the screams of the Bengal famine, the Boer concentration camps?
And now Piers is able at last to act like the caste he fell from, loudly ignoring the pain that Trump’s deplorable energy is about to inflict on the marginalized. A week after the election he gleefully wrote that millennials protesting Trump should “stop being such a faux-tormented bunch of absolutely deluded cretins”.
If we are charitable to him, it’s possible that Morgan doesn’t personally endorse the 400% spike in hate crime incidents immediately following Trump’s election – perhaps he merely doesn’t give a shit about the victims. Perhaps he’s right and it is “childish” of people to protest more conflicts of interest than any president-elect in history; who can tell? But I am a transgender woman – a category Morgan has a history of abusing – now living under a government that promises to use government institutions to make my life harder and less safe, and whose support base dreams aloud of inflicting people like me with arbitrary violence.
If that is ‘faux-torment’ then I sincerely hope someone ‘faux-torments’ our Piers in much the same way, since he assures us it’s nothing.
Piers is an industry professional, so it is quite impossible for him not to know about the widely-reported threat to people of color and LGBTQ communities. But they aren’t his wank fantasy, Trump is, and he so badly wants his career of masturbation to finally get lucky that he has dedicated almost every byline since the election to praising the only audience that might finally appreciate him.
It was certainly not for viewers at home that Piers Morgan chose to criticize civil rights hero John Lewis, on Martin Luther King Day, for promising to boycott Trump’s inauguration. “MLK would have tried to help Trump unite America, not divide it even more” he tossed, probably fully aware of how wrong that is but equally aware of what Trump wants to hear.
It’s telling that his only possible interpretation of musicians and politicians backing out of the inauguration is that they were “bullied” and changed their behavior to please their bullies – clearly assuming that everyone else is as much of a servile coward as he is. The deplorables who once hated him for his 2nd Amendment stance have heard the dog whistle and decided that maybe Piers is okay after all. “Subscribe to Piers Morgan,” tweeted Pepe-toting @FrameGames to 16,000 followers, “yes, he was a limey bastard over guns in 2013, but he’s a based AF warrior for Trump.”
Once a performative leftie, now Piers Morgan is a performative fascist. The deplorables who now like Piers don’t actually like him, they just like that he’s chosen to conform to their bully-in-chief, and this clearly feels rewarding to his intractable insecurities. At last he’s achieving the fantasy at the heart of his endless career of masturbation: that the greedy little hand he uses to get himself off is not a hand at all but is really Donald, his audience, a warm and grateful lover. And Piers screws his eyes shut so tight that it really feels like Trump is there with him, that he is really getting some, and that he is not after all still alone, wanking.
Image: Cow PR