Author Archives: patriciaburstein

PIERS MORGAN HAS NOW ENDED MY SIDE CAREER

Patricia Burstein

 

                   When I read that Piers Morgan was axed from his show I was pleased in part because I could quit making a side career of writing comments aimed at trying to get him fired.  It was becoming an obsession.  At one point, I confess, I remarked about him on virtually every section of The Huffington Post. 

                    When, for example, a company grounded its jet I suggested that rather than let the aircraft sit idly on the tarmac, why not let Morgan, a very busy, important chap, use it.  Or about a Czech political candidate who wore a nose ring, I wondered whether said accessory would enhance Morgan’s rabbit-like face. On virtually any topic– from kitchen utensils to world events– I suggested that Morgan should be consulted because all roads led to Piers Morgan, the self-appointed expert on this and that and nothing.  My absolute disgust was leading to a kind of giddy hysteria to quiet my rage against this…

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PIERS MORGAN HAS NOW ENDED MY SIDE CAREER

 

                   When I read that Piers Morgan was axed from his show I was pleased in part because I could quit making a side career of writing comments aimed at trying to get him fired.  It was becoming an obsession.  At one point, I confess, I remarked about him on virtually every section of The Huffington Post. 

                    When, for example, a company grounded its jet I suggested that rather than let the aircraft sit idly on the tarmac, why not let Morgan, a very busy, important chap, use it.  Or about a Czech political candidate who wore a nose ring, I wondered whether said accessory would enhance Morgan’s rabbit-like face. On virtually any topic– from kitchen utensils to world events– I suggested that Morgan should be consulted because all roads led to Piers Morgan, the self-appointed expert on this and that and nothing.  My absolute disgust was leading to a kind of giddy hysteria to quiet my rage against this insult, The Morgan, to journalism.

                I am not generally a mean-spirited person writing snarky comments.  But I could not contain my loathing for Morgan, not the man whom I do not know, but his manner of interviewing, so self-referential, rude and arrogant.  As a former print journalist, who interviewed hundreds of people– from Truman Capote to Jimmy Hoffa to Golda Meir– I was appalled by how he violated the most basic tool of interviewing: listening well.  Morgan listened mostly to himself; he was always tapping his fingers as if counting the minutes until he could interrupt a guest to have his say.  Or there was his loud, moronic ha, ha,ha,ha drowning out the guest.

                   Too often he asked dumbbell questions: “How many times have you been properly in love?” Or “Whom will you thank if you win the Oscar?” and “If you could relive one moment in your life, what would it be be?”   

                   His gun control advocacy always struck me as more schtick than serious.  Morgan tweeted about how his Alex Jones interview made the top ten list of youtube videos that week.  As a gun control advocate, I most certainly did not want Morgan as my spokesperson.  Moreover his rants against  the right wing fringe gun lunatics likely galvanized their followers to action.  And, if I heard his Dunblane massacre reference and the number of U.S. versus U.K. gun murders (his only apparent fact) one more time, I thought I might put a gun (which I don’t and wouldn’t ever want to own) to my head.  I never heard one substantive or positive idea from him on gun control.        

                  So many times Morgan, always ready with an opinion, did not know what he was talking about.  One time, while interviewing Cornel West and Tavis Smiley about their anti-poverty campaign he referenced Donald Trump (“The Chinese are eating our lunch”) about the economy.  Didn’t he ever read or hear about the Rev. Martin Luther King’s planned Poor People March in the Sixties?  It was astonishing how uninformed Morgan was about something as fundamental to understanding America as the civil rights movement. 

                   I like the English and I respect his compatriots, Tina Brown, Andrew Sullivan and the late Christopher Hitchens. with their seasoned and educated minds and accents to match.  Morgan’s accent, I suspect, was so grating to Americas because it sounded so phony, like the poseur that he is. 

                   Enough.  Alas, with Piers Morgan’s departure from one of the most coveted interviewing chairs, my little side career is over.

                                                                                       -end-

 

                    

 

 

 

                   

 

 

 

                   

                  

              

 

 

 

                    

                    

Miss Not So Lonelyhearts

February, 2014

Dear LTR:

First off, hello from a 68-year-old woman, strong of mind

and body, and with no ambition to be America’s Oldest Teenager or

Anorectic Botox Babe. You know the type, uber skinny, wrist-sized lower

legs, dyed blond hair dry as straw, with or without an extension, French

nails, capped teeth like sanded down stones, swanning around, designer

handbag in her clutches, in stilettos, with a pigeon-toed gait like a

little girl learning to walk. Gaining on her, you witness her

prehistoric face, with numbly unhappy expression, and you gasp in horror

at her in the window of a department store mirror where she is checking

herself out.

Okay, I could stand to lose a few pounds but I wear my

weight well. I can still pitch a baseball so hard and fast that it

would hurt through a thickly padded catcher’s mitt. Eight-year-old boys

swoon over my athletic prowess. Had I married, I would have registered

at Modells Sporting Goods.

I came close to walking down the aisle once, but some small

detail, like his affinity for air conditioning and my refusal to freeze

and suffer a stiff neck, intervened. Another issue: pulp versus no pulp

orange juice. The devil is always in the details. Also, anyone who

emails jokes wouldn’t get to first base with me. Or punctuates

sentences with ha,ha,ha. A nervous tic is no excuse. I do,

however, adore fine dining connoisseurs and if we ever ran out of things

to discuss, I could bring along the Conversation Cards that come with

my Omaha Steaks orders. The talking points are windows into the

soul : ‘If the person across from you were an animal, what would they

be?’ and ‘What would your dream job or career be?

With my many and varied interests, books, music, movies, sports and

travel, I am never desperate for company. In fact, sometimes I cannot

think of any better company than myself. Anyway, I can always depend on

the kindness of telemarketers—Greg from Merrill Lynch or Cindy from card

member services—to call as I sit home alone.

I don’t even know anymore what the word “lonely” means. The

last time I held hands was a few weeks ago at the nail salon where Lucy,

the Korean manicurist, twined her fingers in mine while rubbing cream

into my hands. Geez, we didn’t even talk. Try having a conversation

about “cut cuticles” or “what color polish” which I don’t even wear.

I subscribe to Netflix, but not match.com or

ChristianMingle. (For God’s sakes, I’m Jewish!) This is the first time,

I swear, that I am answering a personals ad. It being February in New

York, with winter dug in, relentless, merciless, with bites of wind off

the river, gris, like the pallor of an Eastern European sky, I think a

cuddle by the fireplace might be in order, and I say to myself, ‘Oh,

what the hell, answer him. It can’t hurt.’

You write that you are looking for a Long Term

Relationship or, as you put it, LTR, which I so appreciate, believing as

I do that brevity is the soul of genius. Owing to the circumstance of

our both being septuagenarians, as a practical matter you should know

for future reference that I want to be cremated. No high maintenance

stuff like a plush coffin or mausoleum for me!

At the moment though I am a vital woman with the vestiges

of a tan from sailing in the Caribbean in January. I read somewhere

that it takes thirty days or so for a tan to fade entirely. Best to

call me sooner rather than later.

In closing, I think I should come clean. Which is to say I

have just decided that I am not going to give you my name, phone number

or email address. What you need to know about me, above all, is that I

change my mind from one minute to the next.

Yours Sincerely,

Never Meant To Be

ALL ROADS LEAD TO PIERS MORGAN

Reading amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ sections of Piers Morgan’s book, SHOOTING STRAIGHT: Guns, Gays, God, and George Clooney, convinced me it was not worth buying. The title is ridiculous; it is this very bizarre alliteration of things, people and the Almighty as well as a celebrity (“George” goes with Guns, Gays, God) aimed at drawing a wide swath of readers.

Likely the solipsistic Morgan, in his parallel reality, believes Clooney’s new movie, “Gravity,” has risen to the top of the charts in part because of Morgan including his name in the subtitle of SHOOTING STRAIGHT.

There is nothing new in his book and if Morgan is so absorbed by gun control, as I am and have been, why no serious exploration of the issue. Instead there is a recitation of the Dunblane, Scotland school massacre and Britain versus United States gun murders, his only two facts, which if he says them one more time I may put a gun to my head out of boredom.

So instead we have here a book ostensibly about issues of concern to Piers Morgan all mixed up with his celebrity fawning. Thus gun control is lost inside his diary jottings about this and that and nothing in the end.

But what really convinced me not to buy his silly, sloppy book was a recent show on October 14, on the eve of the publication of his thin diary. Yet again he got into some useless argument with another fringe person whom a serious journalist would not have even countenanced. Maybe CNN told him not to go on his show and promote himself and his book. If they didn’t, they should have–if only to arrest Morgan’s constant showboating and against his worst impulses try to give him some dignity.

Morgan brought on some lunatic whom he called an “idiot” hoping, perhaps, to lift his poor ratings and to make a veiled connection to his SHOOTING STRAIGHT book. Get it? An explosive gun control debate, Morgan hopes, will be a nexus to his book. No doubt, his brazen self will figure out a connection, however desperate or disparate, to sneak in a mention of his book. Or Morgan will hawk his book through some bogus on-air tweeting contest like some carnival barker, quiz show sponsor or middle-of-the-night infomercial flak.

A week and a night later, on October 22 Morgan, with his characteristic lack of manners despite his “Thank you very much indeed” affectation, peddled his diary during an interview with Warren Buffett and two family members about their new book. (Imagine, by analogy, Warren Buffett bringing his new book to someone else’s book party. He wouldn’t; he is a very fine and appropriate person) Morgan allowed that any tweeters who won a copy of an autographed Buffett book would also if “unlucky,” in his words, get SHOOTING STRAIGHT too. This made no sense. If receiving Morgan’s book is “unlucky” then why even visit it upon anyone. Just another craven self-promoting stunt by the disingenuous Morgan.

Yet again Piers Morgan was up to his usual tricks, trumpeting himself and his interviews as “exclusive” and also, a first, the latter in regard to Warren Buffett playing and singing “My Way” on a ukuele. I’ve seen Buffett do the exact same thing on an in-depth CNBC profile as well as other programs. (Maybe Morgan meant it was the first time his show bought a ukuele for Buffett) There was also a cell phone and wallet, likely the last thing on Buffett’s mind, show-and-tell on the Morgan program.

I have interviewed several hugely successful businessmen, J. Willard Marriott, Jr., among them, who sat in Economy (not Morgan’s recommended 1A seat) and wore off-the-rack suits while traveling with him on a story. Marriott showed me his unremarkable looking wallet only to contrast it with that of a showy employee who had every gold card imaginable. Marriott had few, including a green AMEX. Recently, as well, the assistant to a hugely successful music producer-composer-performer, out of the country at the time, told me he did not like or ever use email. Like Buffett he is an octogenarian. An antediluvian cellphone and twenty-year-old wallet are just not stunning or even important details when you’re interviewing someone over eighty years old and moreover who has no interest in au courant gadgets and accessories. (Morgan, of course, had to inform the Buffetts that he, Morgan, is still using his Blackberry)

Meanwhile, Morgan missed a truly important and revealing detail about Buffett and his first wife: in the last years of her life she moved away to San Francisco to work on the AIDS crisis and he visited her with great regularity–even with a woman he was seeing and later married. Warren Buffett is a wonderful and generous human being who lives his belief about the importance of love in one’s life. The main thing about Piers Morgan interviews is that you never learn anything new or terribly important even if he bills his show as an “exclusive” when Buffett and family are on Charlie Rose and other shows. Now, if Buffett came on his show to announce a successor or some extraordinary breakthrough in curing the poor and the sick, that would be an exclusive although I seriously doubt he would choose the Morgan show to make such an announcement.

Lately Morgan has been interviewing authors. On the earlier (October 14) show, Morgan held up a Congresswoman’s new book and congratulated her on it. But she didn’t bite; she didn’t congratulate him back. Later another guest, former New Mexico governor and US Ambassador Bill Richardson cautioned about how unhelpful and polarizing Morgan-type brawling is in trying to resolve the gun control debate or any other issue. This might explain why you rarely learn anything on his show.

Apparently Morgan doesn’t understand that what is interesting about journalism are the stories, not the “purveyor” (Morgan) himself. In his book he has a diary item about being “incarcerated” (ha-ha-ha)on a private jet with Sharon Osborne and her hanging out- of- blouse breast (neither terribly interesting nor shocking) I won’t be reading his tacky book but I do wonder if he also writes about his preference for the 1A window-seat on commercial flights which he talked about in a print interview awhile back. At the very least Morgan could have theorized about the value and wisdom of sitting in 1A. So gauche, this Piers Morgan!

And, then there is Morgan talking in his self-referential way about how Bill Clinton told him he sent everyone else away and negotiated alone with Newt Gingrich (Remember Morgan cheerleading “You Go Gingriches” the night of Gingrich’s only Republican Primary win) during the shutdown in 1994; it’s as if Morgan had a scoop–when it was a well-known detail by just everyone in the press. Do you hear first-rate CNN journalists like Jake Tapper and Chris Cuomo and Anderson Cooper talking about themselves all the time or who told them what? No.

Morgan is so shallow that I hesitated even wasting my time writing this.But it is almost a public duty to expose this dolt.If he were entirely truthful about the intent of his book, he would have called it “ALL ROADS LEAD TO ME,MYSELF, MORGAN and MARILYN MANSON (or MARILYN MONROE)” Either celebrity will do in keeping with the alliterative title. Meanwhile,only some British tabloid toadies from across the pond are marveling at Morgan’s life and book. Americans know better.(I say this as a well-traveled person. No xenophobe am I)

What, in fact, does Morgan even know about America? One night with his producers talking to patrons of a Texas bar–he mentioned this on a show–does not produce an understanding of the pro-gun mentality. While interviewing Tavis Smiley and Cornel West about their anti-poverty campaign, Morgan referenced Donald Trump (“The Chinese are eating our lunch”) instead of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s Poor Peoples March, which sadly King did not live to attend. (see my “Columbia Journalism Review” comment in July 22, 2011) So, when a critic-cum-fan says Morgan “tells it like it is,” I am befuddled. What might “it” mean?

Isn’t this diarist the same Morgan, big Democratic Liberal, so-called, who predicted a landslide victory by Romney after chatting up and shamelessly flattering the candidate’s five sons? That’s why his ratings are in the dumpster. Little wonder that Donny Deutsch, a bona fide Progressive, once asked Morgan in an off-the-cuff remark and appropriately sardonic tone of voice about when Morgan became such a big liberal.

CNN can pay Morgan a hefty salary–until they can get rid of him, albeit “screaming and kicking,” he said on one show while slobbering over how great his job is at CNN. But the public doesn’t have to buy this troglodyte’s book. Thankfully, we’re not contractually bound to Morgan although, I admit, watching him on CNN from time to time is like looking at a train wreck; it has a certain grotesque draw like, I imagine, one of those “Housewives of…” shows.