Creating new perspectives since 2009

Piers Morgan and the Egyptian media

March 13, 2021 at 2:25 pm

British journalist Piers Morgan on 25 October 2019 in California, US [Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for BAFTA LA]

The audience of Good Morning Britain, hosted by well-known British journalist Piers Morgan on ITV, was shocked this week after Morgan announced his resignation from UK’s most celebrated TV programme six years after joining the channel.

Morgan’s resignation came a few days after he criticised the controversial interview that Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s wife, had with the world-famous journalist Oprah Winfrey on the US CBS channel early last week.

“I do not believe a single word of what Meghan said.” With that statement, Morgan terminated his career as the host of Britain’s most popular programme because he questioned Markle’s claims about attempting suicide and the severe psychological crisis she endured. British society, especially the media, simply could not handle the level of disregard, criticism and disbelief Morgan showed vis-à-vis the mental health issues voiced by the Duchess of Sussex.

Morgan’s media empire and popularity all collapsed within a few hours when the programme co-host Alex Beresford embarrassed him on live TV by reminding him of the romantic encounter he had with Markle before she decided to leave him, long before meeting Prince Harry.

Beresford also mentioned that Markle kept silent and refrained from attacking Morgan, who did not hesitate to criticise and belittle her on more than one occasion before the latter decided to take the worst decision a TV presenter could ever take on air and got up from his seat and left the studio, while his colleague was still addressing him.

READ: British royal plays ‘high-level salesman for British arms exports’

Within just one day, Ofcom announced that it had opened an investigation into more than 41,000 complaints against Morgan received in less than 24 hours, in which people accused him of expressing biased opinions on a public issue, denying Markle’s claims of facing mental health concerns and attempting suicide. Thus, the outcome of the controversy was inevitable, prompting Morgan to resign and not wait for the investigation outcome. In other words, he did not wait for ITV to fire him as expected.

Hours after his resignation, Morgan announced that his last appearance on the programme had been viewed more than the BBC’s morning show for the first time ever, which was his first goal since joining the programme six years ago.

What is more interesting is that nearly a quarter of a million people signed an online petition, according to the Daily Mail website, asking Morgan to reconsider his resignation and return to the show. However, he responded: “No, I will not return, but thank you.”

It is noteworthy that the resignation or dismissal of Morgan is not linked to the identity or status of the person he criticised. It was never related to the fact that he discredited Markle, but rather because he violated Ofcom regulations prohibiting media professionals from expressing their personal opinions or discrediting any person. It is also striking that the Ofcom rules apply to all workers in the British media, regardless of the broadcaster’s popularity, viewership or the TV channel for which they work. Everyone is treated equally, everyone is required to respect the rules, and whoever does not will be denied their place in front of the cameras.

READ: Britain to return looted Iraq artefact

The Morgan incident reminded me of a situation in Egypt during Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s plagued years. The Ofcom of Egypt is not an organisation that regulates the media, but is rather a body monopolised by only two persons, namely Director of General Intelligence Major General Abbas Kamel and his assistant Colonel Ahmed Shaban, who control the sector via Samsung smartphone text messages and their instructions to media arms.

In the Egyptian media, Mohamed Al-Baz, for instance, names political oppositionists and mentions their addresses, while inciting people to kill them on live television, while no one holds him accountable. On the other hand, Ahmed Musa incites the security forces to kill Egyptians in streets and squares and airs sexually explicit footage of an oppositionist from inside his bedroom, then continues to host his show unchecked, unaffected and unsanctioned.

If Morgan wants to criticise Markle and settle accounts with her, he should pick up the phone and call Turki Al-Sheikh so that he could offer him a place next to Amr Adeeb, or employ him on one of his Saudi TV channels. Perhaps it would be easier for Morgan to ask Abbas Kamel to open a private TV channel for him to insult and discredit whoever he wishes. That way, he will not have to resign, but instead will be hosting El-Sisi as a permanent guest on the show.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.