Piers Morgan has sensationally quit Good Morning Britain, the ITV breakfast show he has helped revitalize, after the former CNN anchor said he did not believe Meghan Markle’s mental health issues led to her contemplating suicide.
In a statement on Tuesday evening UK time, ITV announced: “Following discussions with ITV, Piers Morgan has decided now is the time to leave Good Morning Britain. ITV has accepted this decision and has nothing further to add.”
It is not clear if Morgan was asked to step down, or whether he made the decision voluntarily. What we do know is that ITV executives have held talks with the presenter in recent hours after taking issue with his Markle comments.
ITV CEO Carolyn McCall faced the media this morning to talk about the company’s 2020 earnings, but was instead grilled about Morgan’s on-air antics. She refused to comment on whether ITV will support or punish Morgan, but said she wholeheartedly believed Markle’s suicide remarks. “I completely believe her when she says that and, importantly, everyone should,” McCall said.
UK media regulator Ofcom has announced an investigation into Good Morning Britain after the show prompted more than 41,000 complaints, making it easily the most-complained about program in a decade. Ofcom will examine if Morgan broke broadcasting rules on harm and offense.
Markle revealed during her explosive CBS interview with Oprah Winfrey on Sunday that UK press intrusion was so acute that she “didn’t want to be alive anymore.” Reacting to her remarks, Morgan said: “I don’t believe a word she says, Meghan Markle. I wouldn’t believe her if she read me a weather report.”
He was immediately rebuked by his co-presenter Susanna Reid, who said it was a “pathetic reaction.” Elsewhere, mental health charity Mind said it was “disappointed” by the comments. Mind’s intervention was particularly notable because it is a supporter of ITV’s mental health campaign, Get Britain Talking.
Morgan walked back his comments on-air today, but clearly, it was enough to draw a line under the matter. He said: “When we talked about this yesterday, I said an all-encompassing thing I still don’t believe what Megham Markle says generally in this interview and I have serious concerns about the veracity of a lot of what she said. But let me just state my position on mental illness and on suicide.
“On mental illness and suicide, these are clearly extremely serious things and should be taken extremely seriously and if someone is feeling that way they should get the treatment and the help that they need every time. Every time. And if they belong to an institution like the royal family they should seek that help and be given it. It’s not for me to question if she felt suicidal, I am not in her mind and that is for her to say.”
In another incident on Tuesday, Morgan stormed off set live on-air after being taken to task by co-anchor Alex Beresford. Calling out Morgan’s “diabolical behavior,” Beresford said: “I’m sorry, but Piers spouts off on a regular basis and we all have to sit there and listen. Six-thirty to seven o’clock yesterday was incredibly hard to watch. Incredibly hard to watch… He has the ability to come in here and talk from a position where he doesn’t fully understand.”
As of 10:45 a.m. PT, Morgan was yet to comment on his departure from Good Morning Britain. He has, however, posted a cryptic tweet:
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) March 9, 2021
Morgan was named as a permanent fixture on Good Morning Britain in 2015, and has helped put the ailing breakfast show on the map with his loud opinions and confrontational interviewing style. He won plaudits last year for holding the British government to account over its handling of the coronavirus crisis, while, on the coattails of CBS’ interview with Harry and Meghan, Monday’s episode of Good Morning Britain was watched by nearly 1.2 million viewers — one of its best ratings to date.
But his comments on Markle provoked widespread anger and it came just days after he antagonized a former colleague on Twitter, prompting outrage from the TV freelance community. Some 1,200 freelancers and executives wrote to ITV raising concerns about his treatment of former Piers Morgan’s Life Stories researcher Adeel Amini. Morgan said he’d “rather employ a lobotomised Aardvark” than work with Amini again. ITV said at the time that it cannot control the tweets of a freelance presenter.
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