Outspoken British talk show host Piers Morgan is in the headlines again this week for doing what he does best: causing controversy by attacking young women in the media.
The 53-year-old journalist, who first found fame as an editor of Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid newspapers in London, has run afoul of pop star Ariana Grande and her mother for accusing British girl group Little Mix of using sex to sell records.
To coincide with the release of a new single, the band, spawned from the UK version of talent show The X Factor, released a photo where their naked bodies are covered in insults to show “how far they’ve come” on a journey to “self-love”.
View this post on Instagram
Take off all my makeup cos I love what’s under it Rub off all your words don’t give a fuck I’m over it Jiggle all this weight, yeah you know I love all of this Finally love me naked Sexiest when I’m confident. Thank you for being part of this incredible journey with us. #LM5 featuring #Strip is coming Friday 16.11.18 The girls x
A post shared by Little Mix (@littlemix) on
But Morgan, ever the provocateur, felt compelled to add his two cents and chose a familiar target: harmless women who are younger than him.
“Here’s a great idea, girls – if you want to really empower yourselves, get naked and put the word ‘slut’ all over your body,” he said on talk show, Good Morning Britain, earlier this week.
I wasn’t surprised to read about Mr Morgan’s latest attack because several years ago, I became one of his victims.
As a young media reporter, I found myself covering the infamous “don’t blush, baby” interview in 2016 between cricketer Chris Gayle and Channel Ten reporter Mel McLaughlin, in which he made a pass at McLaughlin during a live post-innings interview.
Morgan defended his mate Gayle, saying it was a harmless joke and all a bit of good fun. The subsequent furore, he claimed, was simply people overreacting.
I shared Morgan’s absurd comments with my own Twitter followers, not realising the TV host was following my every move.
The British celebrity, more than twice my age and with 6.4 million Twitter followers, retweeted my comments, deliberately unleashing his trolls on me.
What followed was days of horrendous and vile abuse.
I was an unknown reporter in my early 20s with a small following, simply reporting on my news beat. I was no threat to Morgan but that didn’t stop him from throwing me to the wolves.
I deleted the worst of the threats which reduced me to tears at my desk, but many of them, in which men called me ugly and said I’d be so lucky if a man paid me attention, remain online.
The tsunami of abuse was so unsettling I became distracted at work for days on end. Even today I remain relatively quiet on the social media platform, afraid of more attacks from cowardly and faceless trolls.
Morgan, a millionaire media darling, went on unscathed while I was collateral damage.
But this is how Morgan’s brand of self-promotion works.
You need look no further than Morgan’s Twitter account, where his latest tweet endorses an article in the Spectator US magazine about his mastery of the platform.
“Every day he singlehandedly generates great tsunamis of outrage and ecstatically surfs them onto the beach of global fame,” the Spectator tweet reads.
This is how Morgan remains relevant. He attacks women, puts himself in the headlines, and continues causing controversies in which women are always denigrated.
Less than six months after attacking me, Morgan went after pop star Lady Gaga, calling her admission she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after she was raped as a 19-year-old was “vain-glorious nonsense”.
And two years later, here he is again, slut-shaming a successful female band.
Disturbed by Morgan’s comments, singer Ariana Grande defended Little Mix, telling Morgan women could be “sexual AND talented”.
“I look forward to the day you realise there are other ways to go about making yourself relevant than to criticise young, beautiful, successful women for everything they do,” Grande presciently wrote on Thursday.
“I think that’ll be a beautiful thing for you and your career or what’s left of it.”
No woman deserves to be harassed, certainly not talented female artists who are constantly subjected to slut shaming and intrusions into their personal lives.
But I will never understand why Morgan decided to go after me, an unknown young journalist on the other side of the world.
Or maybe I do.
Because as long as Morgan remains in the headlines, as long as he is being talked about, that is all that matters.