As with the certainty of night following day, when ITV breakfast offering Good Morning Britain returned to our screens this morning, there was three-days-a-week co-host Piers Morgan lecturing anyone and everyone about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. He was loud, he was insistent, he was not about to listen to anyone else, and so in his own mind he was right. The only problem was that he was not.
Quite apart from basing his punditry on a whole series of false premises - managing to miss that Hal and Meg had previously been told that they were not going to be part of the new, slimmed-down monarchy, and not going anywhere near the series of highly unfortunate articles from the Mail titles which are now the subject of a legal action by the Duchess against Associated Newspapers - Morgan could not rebut the whiff of racism.
What was worse is that we once more had the grotesque spectacle of a white man telling people of colour what racism was, or in this case, according to him, was not. The person of colour being thus lectured this time was writer Afua Hirsch, who has been invited on GMB previously and so knew what to expect. She was shouted down and talked over; fellow guests Paul Burrell and Sarah “Vain” Vine, by complete coincidence, were not.
“There have been allegations that she has been associated with very racialised forms of crime, there have been discussions about her ‘exotic’ DNA, her newborn baby was compared to a baby chimp” said Ms Hirsch of the Duchess. Would Morgan tread carefully? But you know what’s coming. And careful it was not.
“Is her DNA not exotic by royal standards? She’s the first mixed-race person to enter the royal family. Why do you take exception to the word exotic?” Christ on a bike, this is bad. And by bad, I mean terrible. “Exotic” in the context of a person of colour is a word that is loaded. Quite apart from White-Man-Lectures-POC-On-Racism, this was unforgivable.
But Morgan was deaf to such niceties, and just carried on. “You can’t just say these things are racist when they’re not”. White man tells POC what is and isn’t racist (again). So what say Ms Hirsch? “I’m telling you that as someone who’s lived the experience of being a person of African heritage in this country that there are narratives that are regularly …”
Morgan was entering Maximum Gammon territory. Was she calling him racist? Ms Hirsch maintained her composure - well, one of them had to - and simply told Morgan “I’m saying that the narratives that you’re perpetuating are racist”. The Great Man was apoplectic. “You say we’re demonising a woman of colour, you’re the one bringing race into this”.
No, she was calling out racism. And it wouldn’t be a Piers Morgan rantfest without one of those dishonest deflections: “They’re [Prince Harry and Meghan] driving the narrative that this is all driven by racism and sexism, which I think is completely and grotesquely wrong”. They are doing no such thing. They do not need to. It is becoming glaringly obvious.
That is the kind of clumsy bigotry that should at the very least earn Morgan a Grade A bollocking from ITV bosses. But as he’s their insurance policy against bad press coverage, they won’t go there. So the white man gets to carry on defining racism to POCs.
Piers Morgan was already a disgrace to journalism. He is now an even bigger disgrace.
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