Leading figures in American media have shown their support for British television presenter Piers Morgan after he left his high-profile breakfast slot with the broadcaster ITV following his strident criticism of Meghan Markle.
CNN anchor Jake Tapper and former Fox News host Megyn Kelly have praised Morgan and said he had been treated unfairly.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson and political and media commentator Ben Shapiro also weighed in with support for Morgan.
Morgan, a former presenter on CNN and Daily Mail editor at large, had accused Meghan and Harry of damaging the royal family and seeking publicity on their own terms without accepting the responsibility and scrutiny that come with their position.
Morgan dubbed Meghan ‘Princess Pinocchio’ in a tweet and said on Monday that he did not ‘believe a word she said’ in her and Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Morgan abruptly quit his Good Morning Britain breakfast show on Tuesday amid the fallout from the extraordinary Oprah interview.
He is understood to have been ordered to apologize but he refused and quit, saying he had the right to tell viewers his ‘honestly held opinions’ and declaring: ‘Freedom of speech is a hill I’m happy to die on’.
Standing firm, Morgan told reporters outside his West London home: ‘If I have to fall on my sword for expressing an honestly held opinion about Meghan Markle and that diatribe of bilge that she came out with in that interview, so be it.’
His views, and his refusal to back down in the row, had sparked more than 41,000 complaints made to Ofcom, fueled by an orchestrated social media campaign spearheaded by his critics including several Labour MPs.
Following news of his departure, CNN’s Jake Tapper described the Ofcom investigation as ‘insanity’.
‘This is what happens when you live in a country where there is no First amendment. Insanity,’ he said, linking to a Variety article entitled: ‘U.K. media regulator Ofcom launched an investigation after more than 41,000 people complained about Piers Morgan’s comments on Meghan Markle.’
When Tapper was attacked by Morgan’s critics, he concluded: ‘OK, British friends. We disagree.’
Tucker Carlson also addressed the controversy during his Fox News show on Tuesday night when he said it was absurd no one was allowed to make fun of Meghan’s claim that she was silenced.
In response to Markle saying she was silenced, Carlson told viewers: ‘A rational person might consider this claim absurd, but amazingly no one else seems to think it is. Oprah clearly doesn’t think it’s absurd.
‘You’re not allowed to make fun of this.
‘Our friend Piers Morgan did that on television in the UK and had to resign from his job.’
Celebrity Sharon Osbourne also weighed in, tweeting: ‘@piersmorgan I am with you. I stand by you. People forget that you’re paid for your opinion and that you’re just speaking your truth.’
Morgan, a prolific tweeter who has 7.7 million followers on the platform, posted a ticking clock shortly before ITV’s statement confirming his departure. It was retweeted by Kelly.
Carolyn McCall, the chief executive of ITV, had said earlier that she believed Meghan ‘completely’.
In the two-hour Oprah interview, Meghan spoke of feeling suicidal and turning to the Palace for help but being rebuffed.
She told Winfrey that she felt incredibly lonely and isolated, and had insufficient support from the royal family.
Prince Harry said that racism had played a large part in forcing them from the U.K. and said he and his father stopped speaking for some time. Asked about his relationship with his brother, Harry said it was ‘space’.
After the interview aired, Morgan had a heated argument with his co-host Alex Beresford, which ended with Morgan storming off the set.
Meghan had accused the royal family of pushing her to the brink of suicide and said someone in the royal household had raised questions about the color of her son’s skin – allegations that have prompted questions about the future of the monarchy.
Morgan did qualify his original comments on Tuesday, saying: ‘I still have serious concerns about the veracity of a lot of what she (Meghan) said, but let me just state for the record about my position on mental illness and on suicide.
‘They should be taken extremely seriously and if someone is feeling that way they should get the treatment and help that they need every time, and if they belong to an institution like the royal family and they go and seek that help they should absolutely be given it.’
Morgan joined ITV six years ago, bringing no-holds-barred interrogation to British breakfast television.
Government ministers, celebrities and members of the royal family have all felt the lash of his tongue.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has pressed the government repeatedly to explain why Britain has one of the highest death rates in the world. Ministers boycotted the show for months.
Such is his influence that many newspapers write daily stories on his Tweets and comments.
Morgan made his name in the cut-throat world of the British popular press, becoming the youngest editor of a title at 28 when Rupert Murdoch appointed him at the News of the World. He later ran the Daily Mirror.
Morgan later moved into television, appearing as a judge on the reality shows America’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got Talent, and spent three years hosting a poorly received chat show on CNN, replacing Larry King.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Harriet Alexander