Is Piers Morgan A Victim Of Cancel Culture?
By Ross McAtasney
To even start to look at this question, I think it would not be fair to at least put my cards on the table of my potential bias here, as we will all have our own bias when looking at this story. I personally am not a fan of Piers Morgan, in his style and the stances he has taken on certain topics, I can concede though that he has been on the side I think is morally right like holding he UK politicians to account during the covid crisis. In my eyes he is a man who is very good at his job, but whose morals is more about what could make good TV or a good article, which is the job of a good journalist, not an ethical one, but one that will make good money for the places he works. He was tied up in the case with the phone hacking scandal years ago, where he was not directly involved in the hacking, but being editor of the newspaper and being such a prominent figure, he did become the main target of the hate from that situation. But as a personality I personally don’t like him and understand that may colour my opinion in this, but I will attempt to be unbiased in regards to how I perceive Piers in this.
Now there are 2 main parts of this story, one being the racial issue and how that is dealt with, and the one of mental health and his comments on that regarding Meghan Markle. I feel in regards to the race part that to me is not part of the reason his employment ended at Good Morning Britain, but looking into the views on it and comments made in connection to him leaving (or being forced to leave) I personally feel it was in regards to his comments on the mental health part, which I will explain my reason for coming to that conclusion later. I do however feel it may be pertinent to admit I do suffer from mental health issues and have for years, which is why I feel I do have some experiences in life that others may not have in relation to this part and that may be a bias I may find harder to shy away from but I feel that may be important to the understanding of what damage may be done.
On the part about race, I do not feel Piers said anything offensive about race in this segment, to the point where Alex Beresford (The weatherman who Piers was debating which led to him walking off set) stated he did not think Piers was racist, but maybe that Piers did not understand the perceptions of what Meghan was mentioning, its like a woman trying to explain to a man how she feels if she feels threatened in a situation with what could be a harmless man, a man may not fully understand as the man may not have been in that situation to understand. But there was no undertones of racism from Piers that I viewed, there could be an argument that it wasn’t about any race issue but just a personal issue he had with Meghan. Now I am willing to have anyone explain how I may be wrong, I fully accept I may have missed nuance or perception as being a white person, I may not have noticed things, but this part is more opinion, yet it is a crux of the argument that it was more about the mental health comments rather than race issues. Piers also did state if there was any possible racism in the Royal Family that would be a genuine concern for everyone including him, he made the comment about a possible future king being racist.
That is my thought process on why it is less about race in this instance, but rather, his comment regarding Meghans admission that she felt suicidal and that she just didn’t want to be alive, and for Piers to come out and call her a liar with no proof or any nuance. That for me was like a hammer blow to all the good work that has been done over the past few years on discussions around mental health. For me him saying that felt like a gut punch. This is where my bias comes from my own experience, of having admitted to people who I thought I trusted that I felt suicidal and wanted to end my life, and having them call me a liar and just looking for attention. Not long after that I had ended up in hospital. Having some being called a liar for admitting something like feeling suicidal has to be treated with the most seriousness, when so many proclaim during covid to care about those with mental health issues and then hear Meghans admission and shout “Liar” or “Attention Seeker”. Piers opened that door for many who like him to feel emboldened and feel that’s acceptable in society.
Now in my life I have been in close contact with people who have attempted suicide and succeeded. I was too late to be of any help, but I know they had cries for help and been called a liar, been told to stop seeking attention and generally not offered help, and when you feel you are falling down that black spiral, it’s hard to get yourself to a point to get help, but to at least give a cry for help, to have someone hear that cry and at least find a way to nudge you in the right direction can make the difference from them opening up to you and you sitting at their funeral.
I feel that part may come across over emotional, but I feel it is absolutely essential to this discussion about what happened and the context of how it’s not simply a case that “Piers was just giving his opinion”, in that case telling someone you hate them and hope they kill themselves is just an opinion, but yet we know that could be the nudge that pushes someone over the edge. Now I understand for some, calling someone a liar and telling them you hope they kill themselves is somewhat a bit of a jump, which I can concede to a degree, for anyone of sound mind and in a calm state, but for someone hearing Meghan being called a liar by a prominent presenter on live TV could be the thing that emboldens them to keep quiet out of fear of being called a liar, that silence could be what stops them asking for help and could ensure a darker end. So to me it’s not that big a jump as I have seen it from personal experience.
The hardest part of this week for me has been seeing comments on twitter and Facebook with those saying “this is why I don’t speak up when I’m feeling low” or “thanks for proving my fears” seeing those talk about their own experiences, and those who have lost loved ones who felt too scared to speak up. This must not be glossed over, and just made into some cheap soundbite about “cancel culture got to Morgan”, that is so distasteful and just drags away from who nuance of what happened and what damage was done
Now I know that Meghan Markle sent correspondence to ITV and to Ofcom regarding the comments with grave concerns over his tone over mental health, and some may point to that and claim she was trying to get him fired, which to be fair, if I was in her position I may feel like that, but ITV spoke to Piers to change his tone, not his opinion. That’s a very important point, he was not asked to change his opinion, but his approach on the topic of the comments regarding suicide. Piers doubled down and parted ways.
Now there was a way Piers could have approached this without being so blatant by calling Meghan a liar, even simply stating “from the pictures and videos, at no point did she look like she was showing signs of depression or feeling that way”. There is a way you can approach it, and even show surprise at not noticing any possible signs, just being more tactful on such a delicate point. Piers chose to barge in like a bull in a China shop, maybe letting emotion get the best of him this time.
But that is the crux of my whole perspective that it wasn’t cancel culture that got to Piers Morgan, but rather he has taken a really delicate subject matter that many have been trying to bring to the front of the discussion, and he done real damage to it, even to the point where the comments of suicidal thoughts is just a side story to the Cancel Culture mob.
I truly hope the damage can be repaired in good time, and that people look for signs of people struggling, their family or friends, they may feel less confident in speaking out, all it takes is to ask if how they are doing in that moment. As for me, they are the ones who will suffer the most from his comments.