Could Piers Morgan be any more back?
The British tabloid newspaper mucker turned transatlantic TV star has launched his new news program, teased with an interview with former US president Donald Trump which made headlines for days.
Piers Morgan’s new show Uncensored features an interview with former US president Donald Trump.Credit:
After decades of estrangement, Morgan is once again the favoured son of Rupert Murdoch’s giant News Corp media empire and given free rein to do what he does best – talk at his guests in his professionally outrageous way for four nights a week, broadcast all over the world.
Thankfully, I’ve watched it so you don’t have to.
On Piers Morgan Uncensored Morgan does what he does exceptionally well, but frequently the program goes completely over the top to a realm beyond parody. The opening credits of the launch episode (airing in Australia on Sky News and new streaming service Flash) look like an over-the-top version of Sky News’ own conservative rant-fest Outsiders, with a giant pulsating brain and flashing references to “snowflake society” and “The world’s gone nuts… save free speech… wake up!”
Morgan immediately lays it on thick, likening his various cancellations to no less than Nelson Mandela and – as he puts it – his “long walk to freedom … of speech”.
He promises the show will be “a nightly forum for fabulous guests, fearless debate and, yes, some fun”. He even has old pal Ricky Gervais to send him a good luck message while bagging him out in the same breadth. It’s very British.
Then Morgan is onto a monologue about saving freedom of speech, complete with endless plugs for his interview with Trump – “the most famous and divisive man in the world… present company excepted”. Zinger!
The long editorial invokes Sir Winston Churchill and George Washington while Morgan rails against cancel culture, several times, which he calls “modern-day fascism”.
Only Morgan could introduce an interview with the contentious Trump by showing old clips of Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice from 2008, which was won by, you guessed it, Piers Morgan. Toto, we are not on CNN watching Amanpour anymore.
A parody in the making: Trump with Morgan.Credit:
The interview is too long and the former president seems keen to out-parody even himself while talking about his life after the White House. “It’s interesting, it’s beautiful, it’s complex.” It is literally a Saturday Night Live skit in the making.
What’s more interesting than the show is what it reveals about News Corp and the modern media landscape. Morgan’s career is a fascinating study of how the British class system breeds irrepressible self-belief.
He was excommunicated from News Corp in the 1990s when he jumped from his post as editor of the infamous News of the World to join the hated rival, the Labour Party-supporting Daily Mirror. He was sacked after a fake news scandal involving staged pictures of British troops torturing Iraqi soldiers.
Morgan reinvented himself as a CNN talk show host, which was cancelled after it suffered poor ratings when Morgan’s gun control stance proved too much for the Yanks.
He found a second TV life on the UK’s main commercial network ITV, but left its Good Morning Britain flagship when his attacks on Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex,proved too strident for nervous executives.
To meet Morgan in person is not dissimilar to watching him on television. At 185 centimetres, he dominates the room in real life, just as he does the TV screen.
He works hard to stay true to the tabloid newspaper maximum to always be entertaining and to move audiences’ emotions. Even his detractors admit that Morgan is often fun and entertaining, even if they find him a bit much. He’s like the Jeremy Clarkson of news.
And in classic tabloid style, much is made of Trump’s walk out at the end of his interview. Did it really happen? Despite being teased in trailers for the past week, you’ll have to tune into episode two to find out.
Morgan worked on British television because he had a ready-made foil in the shape of co-presenter Susanna Reid, on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, who turned a silent judgmental eye roll at Morgan’s excesses into an art form.
Here there is no counterweight, and Piers Morgan Uncensored is also Piers Morgan untethered. And viewers could quickly find that four hours of this per week is more than enough.
Piers Morgan Uncensored screens Tuesday to Friday at 9pm AEST on Sky News on Foxtel, Sky News Regional and streaming service Flash.
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