Most serious people who make the fundamental strategic error of appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain do so standing in the street outside the Langham Hotel in central London. This is the closest they can get to the BBC’s Broadcasting House without the actual BBC logo appearing over their shoulder, making abundantly clear to ITV viewers exactly where it is their guest has chosen to turn up in person – and where they haven’t.
“Always say no to Good Morning Britain,” is well on its way to becoming a golden rule in political and media circles, on the basis that no good can ever possibly come of it. But there can be no more unfortunate time to break it than a bleak January morning.
In all likelihood, just off camera, a private car booked for Labour’s Lisa Nandy will have had its meter running while ITV viewers watched her breath vaporise in the freezing London air as she stood, in dutiful silence, listening to Piers Morgan’s latest Meghan Markle-related “hot take” splat against the warm walls of his TV studio, dripping treacle like out into the public consciousness: a toxic, radioactive sludge with a depressingly long half life.
Nandy, you see, has an Indian father and as the only candidate in the Labour leadership race with what Morgan called any “diversity in your background.” So it was a matter of urgent importance that she be asked her views on the media’s treatment of Meghan Markle.
Could she, in other words, share her expertise on what it might be like to experience structural racial prejudice in a predominantly white country with a sizeable non-white population?
By way of background, Lisa Nandy was one of 72 female MPs who signed an open letter to Meghan Markle in October stating they believed there were “colonial undertones” in the way she had been treated by some sections of the media.
If you slow the footage from this morning’s exchange down by 1,000 frames per second, you can just about hear Nandy’s distorted voice, growling out a three word answer – before Morgan begins his peroration about how wrong and ridiculous she is.
The letter was “ridiculous”, the coverage isn’t “racist,” Morgan said. And what better way to prove that there is no such thing as ingrained prejudice as making Lisa Nandy, at least the second woman of colour to be asked to appear on Good Morning Britain in a week, to give their views on the treatment of Meghan Markle (the first being The Guardian’s Afua Hirsch) for no seemingly greater reason than to then be told how ridiculous and wrong they are by its white, male host.
Does it really matter? It is demeaning to one’s own personal dignity even have to feel the words “Piers Morgan” pass through one’s fingers on their way from brain to keyboard. It is certainly demeaning to the dignity of all to imagine that any of the man’s opinions are worth scrutinising.
Even if you don’t realise it, you stopped caring what Piers Morgan thinks long ago. It is now two and a half years since he attacked Ariana Grande on social media, telling her how she should and shouldn’t be behaving in the days following the mass murder of her not even teenage fans at her own concert. It remains quite possibly the most disgraceful behaviour that any public figure has ever engaged in online. (The lawyers point out that Morgan has since apologised, like it weighs a feather in the balance.)
If Morgan was considered an “ordinary person”, that alone would have finished him off.
That it didn’t is because, subconsciously or otherwise, everyone has accepted he is like some sort of pompous Borat-like creation of his own imagination, the concept behind the character being no more than a calculation as to what positions it can take to maximise attention for itself, and its only trait that is not entirely performative being its mesmerisingly blunt-edged stupidity.
How else can you, for example, spend several years at CNN mounting a campaign against US gun laws and then, years later, find yourself interviewing a president of the United States that wants to arm high school teachers and yet devote more of your time with him presenting a personalised Arsenal shirt than interrogating him about it?
Nandy, naturally, had a short reply.
“Piers, how on earth would you know?”
One can only hope these seven short, and always correct words, are heard more often.