How Piers Morgan became the most unlikely hero of the coronavirus crisis

Moya Lothian-McLean@moya_lm
Thursday 23 April 2020 09:45
news

Piers Morgan loves to be controversial.

So much so, that he's tweeted to say that he's going to carry on fiercely holding the government to account after 2,000 people complained about an on-air grilling that he gave care minister Helen Whately.

Lots of people are surprised by Morgan's behaviour during the pandemic.

So how did we get to the stage where he's coming across as a voice of reason?

Let's take a trip down memory lane...

If we look back at Morgan's meteoric rise, which includes becoming editor of the now-shuttered News of the World at just 28, there's plenty of controversy.

First he became the boy wonder in The Sun’s showbiz section, penning the infamous ‘Bizarre’ column. Morgan professed not to care about pop stars – the meat of the column – but did know about “self-publicity” (at least he's self-aware).

And much of his career seems to have been built on the latter, with a healthy dollop of offending anyone he can along the way...

When he left the News of the World editorship, it was after publishing pictures of Princess Diana’s sister in law leaving a rehabilitation clinic, whicj was deemed a “serious” breach of the editor’s code of conduct. And he was sacked from the editorship of the Daily Mirror after a frontpage featuring hoax photographs of British troops abusing Iraqi detainees.

After a brief (strange) stint on Britain's Got Talent he’s now making his name as a political commentator, most recently with a headline-grabbing run as the co-host of Good Morning Britain.

It’s not exactly been a smooth run, but that’s how Morgan likes it.

Who can forget the accusations of sexism after leering at the weather girl for her “hot pants”? Or his repeated remarks which have been perceived as transphobic, including calling non-binary kids a “contagion” and sarcastically claiming he identifies as "a penguin" to mock self-identified gender identity?

And there was his impersonation of a "Chinese accent" last month.

... Oh, and his great friendship with another noted right-wing contrarian, US president Donald Trump.

Morgan’s track record didn’t exactly give much of an indication that he'd be someone who'd be praised for just how strongly he's holding government to account during the coronavirus crisis.

But Piers’ conduct throughout the Covid-19 pandemic has been… surprising.

He’s been asking questions about the handling of the crisis by the government.

Difficult questions.

And generally holding the government to account. Which, regardless of his past behaviour, is pretty good to see right now.

Just watch him dismissing government attempts to backtrack after a senior civil servant said that the failure to join the EU procurement scheme for ventilators and PPE was a “political decision”.

Or refusing to let care minister Helen Whatley off the hook when it came to the failure to increase testing for Covid-19, as promised.

And his absolute shock when Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis didn’t know how many people had actually been tested – despite coming on to talk about the subject.

Morgan has lambasted the government for being slow to move at the start of the pandemic and backed calls for an inquiry into why Cheltenham Festival – which around 60,000 people attended – was allowed to go ahead.

He’s even laid excoriatingly into old pal Donald Trump, saying he’s “failing the American people” and that Trump’s daily briefings are "self-aggrandizing, self-justifying, overly defensive [and] politically partisan”. Ouch.

Morgan’s sudden U-turn has not gone unnoticed either, and it’s left commentators and the public alike confused.

The Guardian published an op-ed on Wednesday titled “Piers Morgan, voice of reason? Now I know the apocalypse is nigh”, while The Metro also ran a piece along the same lines, stating: “You don’t have to like Piers Morgan but he’s absolutely right about coronavirus”.

Social media users have also weighed in.

There’s self-professed lefties saying “thank goodness” for him.

Old Twitter enemies like Gary Lineker have been impressed.

Grassroots NHS campaigners have praised him.

Some wondered what the reason behind his change of heart seems to be.

However, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves...

As one Twitter user put it:

A weathercock always points in the direction of the breeze - it remains, at all times, a cock.

Amen.

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