Rightthink or Wrongthink? The brutal takedown of Piers Morgan
British journalist Piers Morgan this week did what he’s always done throughout his long career in television and print: He provided an opinion on a hot topic and didn’t hold anything back.
The opinion, in this case, regarded the royal couple of Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. In a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan accused the royal family of racism. She didn’t name names, of course. And Oprah, who attended their wedding a few years back, apparently decided not to make things uncomfortable for Harry and Meghan by pressing them on this explosive charge.
Perhaps Meghan is telling the truth. Perhaps a member of the royal family did express “concerns and conversations about how dark [her infant son’s] skin might be when he’s born.” But if you’re going to make a charge like that, why not name names? It’s a fair question. Meghan also said she had suicidal thoughts due to the pressures of royal life but that the family denied her treatment.
Piers Morgan watched the interview and immediately began teeing off about the allegations on Twitter, where the 55-year-old former CNN primetime host said he didn’t believe Meghan’s claims. “Who was allegedly racist to Harry about his baby?” asked Morgan. “Who allegedly told Meghan she couldn’t have any help when she told them she felt suicidal? The Sussexes could prevent a lot of damaging rumour-mongering if they tell us.”
The two big questions from THAT interview:
1) Who was allegedly racist to Harry about his baby?
2) Who allegedly told Meghan she couldn’t have any help when she told them she felt suicidal?
The Sussexes could prevent a lot of damaging rumour-mongering if they tell us. pic.twitter.com/SONT1BlflY
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) March 8, 2021
On cue, Morgan was on the receiving end of a Twitter mob that disagreed in not-so-polite terms with his opinion, as is customary on social media. Things got to the point where the United Kingdom’s media regulator, Ofcom, received more than 40,000 complaints about his program, “Good Morning Britain,” in less than 24 hours after Morgan echoed his Twitter sentiment on television. It then announced that it would investigate Morgan.
But wait — can the UK government really investigate someone’s opinion?
“We have launched an investigation into Monday’s episode of ‘Good Morning Britain’ under our harm and offence rules,” Ofcom, which oversees British broadcasting and telecommunications, said in its own Twitter statement.
Again, we’re talking about an opinion here. The royal couple are public figures, and Meghan specifically made two incendiary claims about the royal family.
UK pollster Piplsay surveyed more than 12,000 Britons to get their thoughts on the interview. The results were more in line with Morgan’s perspective, with 50 percent of those polled saying the interview hurt Prince Harry and Meghan and just 23 percent saying they believe it will help the couple. More damning, 66 percent said the royal couple deserves to have their honorary titles and royal patronages taken away.
But, again, Morgan is only offering an opinion. Even if the polls were flipped, it doesn’t take away his right to weigh in on the matter.
Thankfully, he didn’t back down in a Wednesday tweet. “On Monday, I said I didn’t believe Meghan Markle in her Oprah interview. I’ve had time to reflect on this opinion, and I still don’t. If you did, OK. Freedom of speech is a hill I’m happy to die on. Thanks for all the love, and hate. I’m off to spend more time with my opinions,” Morgan wrote to his 7.8 million followers.
On Monday, I said I didn’t believe Meghan Markle in her Oprah interview. I’ve had time to reflect on this opinion, and I still don’t. If you did, OK. Freedom of speech is a hill I’m happy to die on. Thanks for all the love, and hate. I’m off to spend more time with my opinions. pic.twitter.com/bv6zpz4Roe
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) March 10, 2021
If you think this is just a British thing and couldn’t possibly happen in America, you haven’t been paying attention.
Take last year, when Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) penned an op-ed for The New York Times, advocating the deployment of National Guardsmen to U.S. cities to help control last summer’s violent protests. In a poll taken before Cotton’s column appeared, 52 percent of Americans supported deploying the military to control urban violence. That would seem to make the subject of his column a worthy topic for debate, since roughly half the country agreed with it and half didn’t.
But, ultimately, the only poll that appeared to matter at the Times was from woke activists in the newsroom, as Cotton’s opinion piece provoked a severe backlash from numerous Times writers. Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion editor James Bennet was forced to resign.
The same happened with Stan Wischnowski, a 20-year veteran of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who was fired as executive editor in June for having the audacity to greenlight an op-ed titled “Buildings Matter Too,” after looting and rioting engulfed the City of Brotherly Love and damaged or destroyed dozens of businesses. Wischnowski, also a Pulitzer winner, was axed without warning because the headline was deemed offensive.
— The Philadelphia Inquirer (@PhillyInquirer) June 3, 2020
Columnist Bari Weiss, formerly of The New York Times, underscored the issue of firing or canceling or investigating what is deemed by the mob as the wrong opinion in a scathing letter of resignation from the paper of record. “My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views,” Weiss, who could safely be defined as relatively center-left, wrote in July. “I do not understand how you have allowed this kind of behavior to go on inside your company in full view of the paper’s entire staff and the public.”
Piers Morgan is being investigated by his own government for offering an opinion about an interview watched by 18 million people in the U.S. alone.
Pulitzer winners are being eliminated for what Bari Weiss correctly characterizes as Wrongthink.
“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth,” then-President Kennedy, who briefly worked as a journalist himself, once said. More than 50 years later, diversity is celebrated while diversity of thought is under attack, with the hive mentality of conformity over little things like opinions all the rage in 2021.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.