From recent headlines and tweets, you’d think that Piers Morgan was over and done for. Sure, he’s baited controversy in the past, his critics say, but now he’s gone too far… The backlash he’s sparked means he will never float again. A man who has made an art of being cancelled in the traditional sense of the word is, finally—the thinking goes—cancelled in the new, more robust sense of the word. Never again shall this toppled statue find another plinth.
In this instance, the triumphalism of cancel culture needs to be checked against recent history, and those who think of cancellation as a once-and-for-all sentence-to-lifelong obscurity need only recall the word’s origins in network programming, where there is only one law: he who is cancelled, can find another network. So often has Piers Morgan lost slots, and so often has he found other ones, that one must wonder whether there’s any suppressing the man who has, like Richard II, effectively instructed his rivals in how to usurp him each step of the way. The whole thing is a circus and Piers is the ringmaster.
Fearful of compliance and the power of Stop Funding Hate, the future is more difficult for traditional media, especially commercial TV (hungry for a live audience that delivers real ad revenue) to navigate. Morgan has proved he is the voice of a vast popular audience who want a champion that promotes their view, not the liberal values of a younger minority. The platforms springing up that will further silo opinion will fall at his feet. The world is now divided into Marmite parameters of a 49/51 split. Piers has an instinct and understanding of what the majority of the people perceive, think and feel. What made Piers able to drive Good Morning Britain’s ratings through the roof was that he knew exactly where the faultlines were, and, knowing that controversy is where live TV thrives, made the culture wars his playground. As a result, he has built up a following of people (including 7.9 million twitter followers) who trust him, who feel represented by him, and who he can therefore take with him wherever he goes.
People think the juggernaut has been neutered, but quite the opposite. It’s been turbocharged. Piers has the confidence of his opinions, and ultimately, he knows that when people tell you to apologise, or you’re out, you have to have the confidence to walk. If I were his agent right now (and I’m not), I would be a very happy man. With half of HuffPost UK fired, and the BBC moving the deck chairs around on the Titanic, we will have new networks who, unbeholden to the caution an ITV must exercise, will not find it difficult to eclipse their rivals in ratings. The question isn’t, whatever will Piers do now that he has transformed himself into the archrival of the progressive left. The question is, why wouldn’t a Rupert Murdoch or an Andrew Neil want him?