Category Archives: Books

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.