THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS REFERENCES TO PEOPLE TAKING THEIR OWN LIVES. SOME READERS MAY FIND THIS DISTRESSING.
The BBC‘s media editor just wrote one of the worst articles on Piers Morgan’s job loss yet – because he didn’t take a critical look at the ex-Good Morning Britain (GMB) host’s comments. His article glossed over Morgan’s staggering view on Meghan Markle. And instead, the BBC media editor framed it all as part of a “culture war”.
Morgan has been the centre of attention for several days over his comments about Markle and prince Harry. On Monday 8 March, Morgan was talking about their interview with Oprah Winfrey. Manchester Evening News (MEN) reported that:
Piers said he didn’t believe that she had suicidal thoughts.
“Who did you go to? What did they say to you? I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she says, Meghan Markle,” he said.
“I wouldn’t believe it if she read me a weather report.
“The fact that she’s fired up this onslaught against our Royal family I think is contemptible.”
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His comments prompted outrage. More than 40,000 people had complained to the media regulator Ofcom as of 9 March. In the end, ITV said that Morgan “decided” to “leave” GMB. So, enter the BBC to do some firewalling for the disgraced hack.
Amol Rajan, the BBC‘s media editor, wrote a column on Morgan. But Rajan framed it around the idea that Morgan was at the centre of a “culture war”. He opened by saying:
There is a culture war going on, and Piers Morgan’s job on Good Morning Britain has fallen victim to it.
Rajan then said the Markle/Harry story had “turned the culture war dial to max” on GMB. And he noted:
Ultimately, the contrast between ITV’s corporate position and the personal views of their morning star has created a conflict that could not be resolved.
Talk about snivelling. Because Rajan’s dumbing-down of the situation is not far off being as bad as Morgan’s comments.
“Stunning lack of awareness”
Novara founder Aaron Bastani said on Twitter that:
Oh please BBC. A standard where broadcasters with immense reach, like @piersmorgan, are expected to not question the veracity of claims regarding suicidal thoughts is not a ‘culture war’. Most people, left or right, agree it’s wrong.
Suicide is the number 1 killer of young men! pic.twitter.com/JpsnYdmYzw
— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) March 9, 2021
Someone else said:
So he left because of a culture war? Not because he’s a racist who actively refuted a black woman’s mental health struggles…?
— Jeffrey Ingold (@Jefflez) March 9, 2021
And as Dan Pettit pointed out:
Yet not even a day later you’ve written that Piers Morgan’s sacking was due to a culture war not his ignorance and apathy towards a black pregnant woman’s mental health. Stunning lack of awareness from @amolrajan https://t.co/cGuJnskMuV
— Dan Pettit (@dan_pettit23) March 9, 2021
Indeed. But Rajan’s comments sum up the broader issues with Morgan.
He was still unrepentant on Wednesday 10 March:
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
Really? As Geneva said on Twitter:
We all saw you throw a temper tantrum because someone pushed back on you. You literally WALKED OFF THE SET because someone else exercised their freedom of speech …. so what's good for you isn't good for anyone else? How shameful.
— Geneva: still wearing a mask 😷 (@GenevaSmith) March 10, 2021
Morgan has every right to disagree with Markle’s opinions about the Royal Family. He can also defend them all he wants. And he can do both live on TV. But what he can’t do is cast doubt on her claims about wanting to take her own life. A celebrity with a huge social media following and an international platform has a level of responsibility. Pushing a dangerous narrative about mental health is crossing a line.
He is entitled to his opinion. But not all opinions should be publicly aired. Especially when they have real-world consequences. The charity Time to Change’s director Jo Loughran summed this up:
Not feeling confident to talk about feelings, fearing the negative reactions of others, of being rejected, or worse, having your feelings belittled or disbelieved, leads so many people to bury their distress as deeply as they possibly can. But I know that this isn’t the solution; I know the damaging impact of not finding the words to articulate what’s going on for us or the confidence to externally express them, the resultant internalising of shame; that there must be something fundamentally wrong with who I am if I feel like this.
I have been in the place where ending my life seemed like an option.
A dangerous path
Rajan is almost as bad. Framing widely-condemned comments about mental health as part of a “culture war” is irresponsible. This bullshit also gives the right wing room to avoid discussing the actual issues. But ultimately, it compounds the idea that people can say whatever they want in the name of ‘free speech’ – even if their opinions literally endanger people’s lives.
If you’re concerned about someone, or need help yourself, please contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or email jo(at)samaritans.org.
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