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From gun control to trans rights: Piers Morgan’s biggest US TV controversies as he returns for Fox network

·3 min read
Britain Piers Morgan (Invision)
Britain Piers Morgan (Invision)

When Piers Morgan departed US screens in March 2014, many assumed it would be for good.

His CNN show Piers Morgan Live, which he took over from US TV veteran Larry King, suffered from consistently low ratings and was eventually axed after just three years.

Commenting on the viewing figures, Morgan at the time told the New York Times that he was “a British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns, which has been very polarizing, and there is no doubt that there are many in the audience who are tired of me banging on about it."

Nonetheless, Morgan is set to reappear on American television next year as he joins new channel talkTV. Part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp group, Morgan’s “global” nightly show will be broadcast in the US, where it will be screened on Fox Nation, as well as in the UK and Australia.

If his track record is anything to go by, audiences can expect feuds, rows and controversies galore, plus naturally, plenty of Twitter spats.

During his time on Piers Morgan Live Morgan repeatedly voiced strongly-held opinions on gun control, calling the gun lobby “stupid” and engaging in fierce debates with pro-gun rights guests including Ben Shapiro of right-wing media outlet Breitbart, and Alex Jones, a far-right radio host and conspiracy theorist.

The latter was so incensed at Mr Morgan’s gun control stance that he launched a petition to have him deported. It was signed by more than 100,000 people, and led to the White House having to release a statement reminding people that “the Constitution enshrines the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press”.

Morgan also came under fire for insensitivity over his interview with author and trans woman of colourJanet Mock. Ms Mock said she had been unhappy about the way her story had presented on the show. Text on the screen said: “Janet Mock: Was a boy until age 18”, and Morgan described her as “formerly a man” despite her identifying as female her whole life.

His show also tweeted the question: “How would you feel if you found out the woman you are dating was formerly a man?”ahead of her appearance. Ms Mock accused Morgan of wanting to “sensationalise” her life.

The presenter’s controversies were not limited to his TV appearances, as Morgan also routinely engaged in Twitter feuds on hot-button topics, particularly race relations.

In 2014 he told Black people to stop using the ‘N-word’ in a Daily Mailarticle. Singer John Legend spoke for many when he responded: “It’s a useless suggestion that completely misses the real issue.”

In 2015, he tweeted “ALL lives matter” in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, arguing furiously with several civil rights activists over his comments.

Morgan later promoted an opinion column he’d written about Ben Carson, describing it as a argument for “Why Dr Ben Carson would be a really bad president, regardless of his skin colour” - prompting many to question why he’d referenced Mr Carson’s Blackness at all.

In 2008 Morgan won Celebrity Apprentice, the reality show hosted by future president Donald Trump. The two maintained a friendship, leading to Morgan interviewing Mr Trump once he was in the White House. During a June 2019 sit-down the then-president defended calling Meghan Markle “nasty”.

Morgan himself has been one of the fiercest critics of the Duchess of Sussex. This month he was cleared by the UK communications watchdog for saying he did not believe her claim that she had been denied mental health treatment by Buckingham Palace.

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