After Manchester City player Raheem Sterling called out our free and fearless press for their double standards and low-level racism, some in and around the Fourth Estate took this very badly, and for the most part those taking offence were white, middle-class, well-off and privileged. None, however, was more privileged than former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, who lost no time in telling Sterling he was wrong.
As so often, Morgan inserted himself into a Twitter discussion involving Match of the Day lead host Gary Lineker to make sure everyone knew he was right, and so were all those in his former branch of the media. “Real bravery would be for those who believe media coverage of black players is racist to name the journalists they believe are responsible for the ‘racism’”, which is supremely disingenuous, as he well knows.
It was not the first time Morgan had used that argument - his response yesterday to Maurice Kilbride was “If they believe media coverage of black footballers is racist, they should name those journalists they believe are racist - not make sweeping generalisations”. But he knows that the racism is not explicit, and that for those writing the copy, the line to take is not theirs - it is handed down from above.
Moreover, his knee-jerk response suggests an unusually enthusiastic desire to maintain the status quo, to the extent of cutting off critics at the knees, such as his sneering dismissal of Henry Winter: “Henry’s great but he’s also white & middle aged”. Why this might be had the mystery stripped away by another former footballer, John Barnes, in an interview on BBC Breakfast - the kind of interview Morgan could not have conducted.
That’s because the Beeb’s hosts, Dan Walker and Steph McGovern, actually allowed Barnes to speak, without the grandstanding and interruptions that are a hallmark of what passes for a Piers Morgan interview. And this is what he had to say about what he termed “certain groups of people being more worthy than others”.
“I’ll give you an example … Piers Morgan. I don’t know Piers, and I’m sure he’s a very nice man, but the character of Piers can only be for a white middle-class man, to be successful on television. If it was a woman, with Piers’ character, that would not be acceptable, or if it was a black man, it would not be acceptable. Because people may say he’s belligerent, people may say that he’s condescending, but he’s accepted”. There was more.
“Because he’s white [and] middle class. Now, it’s going to take a long time to change perceptions of different groups of people … we know the group that is completely accepted, no matter what happens, we know who that is. Discrimination affects women, it affects ethnic minorities, because it’s a perception of that person’s capability.”
Dead right it is. Worse, that perception is reinforced by the tabloid press pushing negative stories about minorities, whether it’s associating drug violence with black Britons (hence the screaming denunciation of Sterling’s “gun tattoo”), or any number of creative demonisations of Scary Muslims™. And there, defending all of that, is Piers Morgan. Who is clearly defending the status quo. Because if favours him.
So he resorts to wheeling out any mis-step Raheem Sterling has made, gets all righteous about his press pals, and ignores the elephant in the room. Which is Himself.
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