News hit today of Pier Morgan’s sacking from CNN. Cue thousands of column inches brimming with schadenfreude from fellow hacks amongst whom poor old Piers is clearly far from popular. He readily admits that his show has “taken a bath in the ratings” and his confrontational British style had “alienated” viewers.
I feel sorry for him. There’s nothing much to distinguish Morgan from your typical British journalist. Yes, he is opinionated, brutally irreverent, suspicious, and ruthless. But which self-respecting UK interview hack isn’t? Granted, there’s an unbecoming hint of megalomania (he described himself recently as the best interviewer in Britain), and he is…well…really, really annoying, but we’d be kidding ourselves if we bought the rubbish that America’s rejection of Piers was personal.
No. America’s rejection was of British style journalism. They are a country far more deferential to power, far more comfortable with a veneered, plastic presentation of the news than the limey equivalent: a modern Colosseum where nothing gets an interviewer more excited than the smell of blood. Can you imagine the impossibly well-preened Megyn Kelly obstinately repeating “did you threaten to overrule him?” twelve times to a squirming Hillary Clinton? Nah.
Love him or hate him, Morgan deserves a hefty pat on the back for refusing to conform to the comparative monotony of the US news environment. They couldn’t hack him, and by extension, our press culture. Rather than lamenting the failure of a Brit abroad or rejoicing in his failure, we should be proud that our press is free enough to uncompromisingly demand an account from our politicians, and that our politicians have the hide to withstand it.