Most onlookers, and indeed anyone who had either competed in those disciplines, or understood the risks involved, sympathised with Ms Biles, who, let us not forget, has already been there, seen it and done it. But former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan was having none of that. Ms Biles’ reluctance to seriously injure herself, or worse, for his viewing pleasure resulted in an outpouring of ignorance from The Great Man.
And ignorance is the key word: Morgan is not a stupid person, and is more than capable of understanding what drove Ms Biles’ decisions. But to keep the outrage boiler at working pressure, the audience must not be distracted by such detail, and so they are not. Those who read Morgan’s intemperate rant were deliberately misinformed, kept ignorant.
Still, at least he was consistent in attacking anyone at the top of their sport suffering mental health issues. He ranted as intolerantly at Ms Biles as he had previously at tennis player Naomi Osaka. But then came news that would put Morgan in what Spike Milligan once called A Very Difficult Position, concerning England cricketer Ben Stokes.
As the BBC has reported, “Ben Stokes ‘will take an indefinite break from all cricket with immediate effect’ and has withdrawn from England's squad for the five-Test series against India. The all-rounder will prioritise his mental wellbeing and rest his left index finger which has not fully healed, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said in a statement”.
What would Morgan say this time? Mental health, and all that? "And due to a busted finger.. I’m sure Ben Stokes wouldn’t call his decision to pull out of the massive India Test series ‘tremendously courageous’, ‘inspiring’ or ‘heroic’, as some are saying. Nor would I. England will be weaker without him & I hope he’s back for the Ashes”. Look at the finger!
But what about all those patronising rants on the subject of letting team-mates down? “If he quit in the middle of a Test match with no physical injury, leaving his teammates in the lurch like Simon Biles did, & complained he wasn’t having enough ‘fun’, then I would have said that. Especially if he had GOAT embroidered on his shirt. But he didn’t. So I didn’t”.
So he’s said … nothing. Not that this has anything to do with Ben Stokes being a big bloke, you understand. And definitely nothing to do with him being white. After all, Morgan claims not to criticise on the basis of skin colour, and so his targeting of Ms Biles, after his targeting of Ms Osaka, is merely a coincidence. As are all the others.
Like, oh I dunno, his attack on Novara Media’s Ash Sarkar. His attack on Jameela Jamil, the latter once more on someone with mental health issues. And his tiresome obsession with the Duchess of Sussex, which shows little sign of abating any time soon.
When the women who are not white have mental health issues, Piers Morgan can’t wait to sound off. But when it’s a big white bloke who might - with some justification - take exception to an ignorant hack sneering at him, it’s rather different. I wonder why.
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