Piers Morgan: “Self-doubt is a massively tiresome virtue. I don’t really get the point of it”
As the journalist joins Good Morning Britain, he talks to Radio Times about guilt, Catholicism and why he'd rather "get a
large anvil and smash it repeatedly on my head" than go into politics
Does he ever cry? “Children or football clubs. I have shed tears over Arsenal.”
Does he go to confession? “Not for a long time. But I have done, yeah. It takes a long time, as you can imagine.”
When was the last occasion? “Oh God, quite a few years ago. I wouldn’t say I’m the most fervent Catholic in terms of actively practising, but I do believe in God, I do believe in the Catholic religion, I do pray.”
His critics would no doubt argue that Morgan has a lot of sins to confess. Before turning his hand to television, he was a tabloid journalist. At 29, he was appointed by Rupert Murdoch to be the youngest-ever editor of the News of the World. A year later, he was editing the Daily Mirror. He was sacked from the Mirror in 2004 after running staged photographs of British troops supposedly abusing Iraqi prisoners.
“I remain of the view that the pictures depicted a wider truth,” he says now. “It’s not an excuse for publishing fake pictures, though I thought they were genuine... But the story that ran with them [about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners] never got denied and it’s believed to have been true.”
And then there are the allegations of phone-hacking. Morgan has always denied that he was personally involved in the phone-hacking during his time at the Mirror. He has been interviewed by police as part of their inquiries under Operation Golding. “I can’t talk about it. And it’s not me being slippery, it’s just that there’s an ongoing investigation at Trinity Mirror. I can’t say anything. I would be happy to, but I can’t until it’s all over.”
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He went to visit his friend Andy Coulson in Belmarsh prison. Coulson, a former editor of the News of the World who became communications director for David Cameron, was serving an 18-month sentence for phone-hacking offences. “It was a very sobering experience,” Morgan says. But: “The tea was quite good.” He considers Coulson one of his best friends and is appalled by how Cameron “threw him to the wolves”.
He still follows British politics and describes the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader as “absolutely, mind-blowingly, ridiculous... I saw him described as a sex symbol the other day and nearly fell out of my car. Jeremy Corbyn! He’s an Arsenal fan, so he’s not all bad... but it’s a ridiculous appointment. It makes them unelectable.” Would Morgan ever go into politics, I wonder? “No,” he says. “I’d rather get a large anvil and smash it repeatedly on my head.” And politics would probably be a waste of Morgan’s natural ebullience. Besides, his 18th-percentile skin is made for television.
Good Morning Britain is on Weekdays at 6.00am on ITV