Remove Piers Morgan from Good Morning Britain
Remove Piers Morgan from Good Morning Britain
Why this petition matters
Before I begin, I’d like to provide you with some statistics regarding transgender people, specifically young transgender people (who are arguably more vulnerable), in the UK. Did you know that, as detailed by Stonewall, 83% of young trans people have experienced verbal abuse, 60% have experienced threats and intimidation, and 35% have experienced physical assault (more than one in five, a staggering number)?
That’s not to mention how 55% of transgender people have experienced negative comments and 25% have been actively discriminated against in the workplace, and a horrifying 44% of transgender people are too afraid to come out as their true selves at work for fear of facing these unwarranted repercussions.
In turn, 48% (nearly half) of transgender people have actually attempted to commit suicide. 84% have thought about it, and 55% have suffered or are currently suffering from depression. 54% of transgender people have sought help, only to be told by their doctor that they aren’t well informed enough about trans-related care to do anything about it.
That’s only in this country. I want to also bring to your attention the prevalent deaths of many black transgender women in the US — as many as 18 have been recorded this year alone. Currently, in Mexico, tensions are rising as law enforcement refuses to punish those who abuse and/or murder transgender people.
In being an award-winning breakfast programme with a worldwide reach, one could presume that Good Morning Britain would act as an effective platform to educate the masses on these issues. In keeping Piers Morgan as the programme’s main draw, however, ITV are actively choosing to promote an insidious agenda against transgender people (and minorities in general), as through his choice of language he regularly berates and mocks those who do not identify in a way he is willing to comprehend.
I shouldn’t have to explain why Piers Morgan is perhaps one of our country’s most heinous public figures, but for the sake of clarity I’ll recap. During Morgan’s early career as a journalist, he was famed for his prying reporting as well as his lack of sympathy for celebrities’ privacy. In 1995, he broke the editor’s code of conduct by publishing photographs of Catherine Lockwood leaving a private addiction clinic. Rupert Murdoch distanced himself from the situation, and Morgan left the role.
In 1996, as editor of the Daily Mirror, he had to apologise on national television for a xenophobic headline in relation to the European Championship. He again broke the editor’s code of conduct in 2000 after buying £67,000 worth of shares in a company, before the shares were tipped in a section of the newspaper the very next day.
Morgan’s publication of false photographs in 2004 led to his eventual sacking, with these photographs showing Iraqi soldiers being tortured by British Army soldiers; the Mirror was forced to apologise for the “calculated and malicious hoax”, and Morgan lost yet another desirable, high-profile role.
That isn’t to mention the fact that, during Morgan’s tenure, the Trinity Mirror Publishing Group was found to have hacked mobile phones in a shocking breach of privacy, in order to obtain news stories. Despite Morgan denying any involvement, his admission to hearing a private voicemail between Paul McCartney and Heather Mills during the 2011/2012 Leveson Inquiry immediately debunked that as false, revealing he was entirely aware of the wrongdoings happening under his nose.
We also know that Morgan is no stranger to presenting misinformation on Good Morning Britain, too - earlier this year he was fact-checked by co-host Susanna Reid as she, imaginably out of frustration, resorted to using Google to prove car manufacturing in the UK will dwindle after our departure from the EU, despite his insistence that it will not.
So imagine my furore when, on the 11th September of this year, Morgan delivered yet another one of his staple rants around gender, sexuality and identification. Of course, with the help of the programme’s crew rallying around him in the name of “entertainment”, Morgan’s claims that he now identifies as a penguin were supported with a mock-up image and childish music on-screen, effectively reducing this discussion to a mere joke - something I think we could all agree is not the case, especially when you refer to the statistics at the beginning of this letter.
Morgan’s disdain for those who dare to identify in a way they feel comfortable manifests in many ways, and as Charlotte Hawkins told Morgan “people can be who they want to be”, he plainly replied - “no they can’t”. This is dangerous misinformation. This is the kind of dehumanising dismissal of transgender/non-binary/gender-fluid individuals that perpetuates those suicide rates and keeps them alarmingly high.
This is not the first time gender has been a hot topic of discussion on Good Morning Britain. Those working on the programme have evidently sussed that any talk of it will bring views and engagement, especially with Morgan at the helm. A mere Google search of “GMB gender” brings up thousands of results, most of which involving a screengrab of an angry Morgan mid-shouting match, either with the camera or with a guest - he never shows any sort of willingness to consider a viewpoint other than his own.
Even highly-respected guests such as Munroe Bergdorf, an inspiration to many LGBTQ+ people, try to put their point across whilst Morgan viciously spits and grows angrier and angrier, routinely shouting over said guests in a clear display of power. No matter how eloquent, how calm and how well-presented the guest may be, they’re often felt to feel small and inadequate both by Morgan and people watching at home who take to the internet to echo his sentiments. Morgan could be likened to a petulant child in these instances, losing his temper and throwing every insult at the wall to see what sticks with the general public.
That kind of behaviour spreads. We are now well aware of the power and the influence Morgan holds in his current position; Twitter, Facebook, Daily Mail and more are inundated with targeted, abusive comments in relation to LGBTQ+ individuals, denying their existence, refusing to understand who they actually are and instead firing off words such as “snowflake” and “PC-mad”, also regularly used by Morgan on the show.
In addition to this, the Good Morning Britain social team have blood on their hands what with the way they manipulate these “debates” into vehicles for transphobia and discrimination. Looking at their Twitter page, most tweets fail to reach even 100 likes - but as soon as there’s any talk of gender, thousands of people are engaging. Take the clip of Morgan “coming out as a penguin” (something you’d perhaps expect from a 13-year-old, perhaps - not a man of his status), easily reaching over 10,000 likes within a day.
Looking underneath this tweet, you’ll see hundreds of replies from people including: “take me back to the 80s when we never had this rubbish” (we did, but people were even more fearful to come out due to people such as Morgan threatening and denying their rights); “we need more people like Piers Morgan”; and “I’m with [Piers], young people must be so confused”. We are confused. We’re confused as to why the older generation chooses not to understand us, and instead fights against us purely because we want to identify in a way we feel most comfortable. Morgan explicitly tells people we’re the enemy - and by doing so via Good Morning Britain, a news programme, is it any surprise the older generation (who are inarguably much less accepting and understanding) take his words as gospel?
Morgan likes to manipulate people on social media in an attempt to embarrass them, too. Just two days after the penguin fiasco, he tweeted his support for transgender medical costs in the US military despite just two days beforehand pretending not to understand gender at all. This in turn causes people to say, “well, he’s not that bad!” - except, he is. It’s damage control. As he navigates the discourse around a community he refuses to understand or accept, his replies are always full of abusive language that is plainly difficult to read. It’d be nice to see him publicly denigrate these people but he of course fails to, instead targeting the people who choose to stand up for themselves and their peers and directing his mindless supporters to their profile to begin yet another onslaught.
Essentially, this petition has been birthed out of sheer exhaustion and frustration. We are currently living in the midst of very challenging times as a country, what with a no-deal Brexit looming over us, Parliament essentially falling apart in front of our eyes, and tensions between left and right-wing supporters growing daily. What good comes from keeping Morgan as a host? Instead of providing light reprieve from the world’s horrors - or, indeed, discussing them factually and objectively - he contributes directly to them. Morgan dictates to his viewers that it’s acceptable to deny an LGBTQ+ person of their rights; it’s acceptable to tell them they don’t exist; it’s acceptable to call them “snowflakes” when they get rightfully upset.
These are the lessons Morgan teaches. ITV, as a major broadcasting corporation with a worldwide reach, are currently tarnishing a long-lasting legacy by using one of their highest-performing programmes as a vehicle to spread hate and intolerance. I understand that viewers are important, numbers mean business and high engagement suggests success, but are there really no other ways to achieve it? Despite Good Morning Britain’s current performance, to be conscious of a majority of their viewership being sexist, racist, transphobic, and generally unwilling to accept minorities or viewpoints aside from their own is repulsive, for lack of a better term.
When contacting ITV directly about the matter, I received a (very late) response from somebody called Charlie, who told me Morgan's comments are always based in humour, essentially reducing his dangerous rhetoric to a mere joke - classic bully behaviour.
Wake up to the reality of Morgan’s behaviour. Hate crimes are on the rise, transphobia and discrimination over gender identity is becoming commonplace both upon social media and in the real world, and ITV continue to sit idly and let it play out in the name of entertainment. It should be obvious by now that this has far surpassed an acceptable threshold, with Morgan’s rhetoric and actions sitting firmly in dangerous territory.
- Dame Carolyn McCall, DBEChief Executive of ITV
- Neil ThompsonEditor of Good Morning Britain