When Piers Morgan met Rupert Murdoch
Love him or hate him, the outspoken journalist and television presenter Piers Morgan is one of the media’s most colourful characters.
The former host of the ITV breakfast show, Good Morning Britain, has just landed a top job presenting new UK television channel, Talk TV.
The new channel is being launched early in 2022 by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation as part of News UK, which also runs the Talk Radio network. Shows from Talk TV will also be broadcast in the United States and Australia, on Fox News’ Fox Nation and on Sky News Australia respectively.
Morgan, 56, who began his career in the media at News Corp more than 30 years ago, has described Murdoch, 90, as a “constant and fearless champion of free speech”. He says he is “thrilled” to be returning to his roots and looks forward to “building something new and very exciting” with the billionaire media tycoon.
Where it all began
Born in Surrey, in 1965, Morgan was interested in reporting from an early age. At 15, his article on a village cricket team was published in a local newspaper. He studied journalism at Harlow College, Essex, before joining the Surrey and South London Newspaper Group as a reporter in 1985.
When Piers Morgan met Rupert Murdoch, it was the start of the ambitious young journalist’s career as a show business reporter, covering celebrity news and gossip. Morgan joined Murdoch’s tabloid, The Sun, in 1988, when he was 23 years old.
Murdoch was the chairman and CEO of News Corporation at the time. Born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1931, he was the son of journalist and war correspondent Sir Keith Murdoch. One of four siblings, Rupert attended Geelong Grammar School, in Corio, where he was co-editor of the school’s official journal, The Corian. He studied politics, philosophy and economics at Worcester College, Oxford, in England.
After his father’s death, Murdoch, then aged 21, inherited his company. Founded in 1923, News Limited was the basis on which the astute businessman built his empire. He established a policy of acquisition and expansion, buying suburban and provincial newspapers, including struggling titles, in his native Australia. He began building his British media empire in 1968 when he acquired the News of the World, followed by The Sun in 1969.
By the time Morgan joined The Sun, Murdoch had built its readership up to ten million a day. Morgan was hired as show business editor when The Sun was the most widely-read daily newspaper in the UK.
Morgan’s ambition and talent were recognised by Murdoch, who appointed him editor in chief of News of the World in 1994. At 28, he was the UK’s youngest national newspaper editor.
Morgan’s rise to fame
While Murdoch had launched his new Sky television company in 1990, Morgan also branched out into new challenges. He became editor of The Sun’s rival tabloid, the Daily Mirror, in 1995, gaining a reputation for breaking big stories, such as the exposé of security at Buckingham Palace. He was also first to take a look at the memoirs of Paul Burrell, the royal butler.
Morgan went on to enjoy a successful career in television. His current series, Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, in which he interviews a different celebrity during each episode, was launched in 2009. He was also host of Piers Morgan Live on the American news network, CNN, between 2011 and 2014.
He won the seventh season of the US Celebrity Apprentice in 2008. The host was the future American president, Donald Trump. In January 2018, Morgan interviewed the president for the ITV programme, President Trump – The Piers Morgan Interview.
He interviewed Trump again in July 2018, during the president’s official visit to the UK, for a television special called Piers, The President and Air Force One. Morgan interviewed Trump a third and final time at the UK’s Churchill War Rooms during the president’s state visit in June 2019.
Morgan resigned from presenting Good Morning Britain in March 2021, following a furore over his criticism of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. After she reportedly complained to the watchdog, Ofcom, he chose to resign because he stood by his comments and refused to apologise, stating he believed in freedom of speech.
It was claimed that Good Morning Britain beat the ratings for BBC Breakfast for the first time during Morgan’s final week. Following his departure, ITV reportedly lost almost £200 million in market value.
Do viewers want to see Morgan back on TV?
When Morgan was appointed by Murdoch to front the new TV channel, Morgan declared, “I’m going home and we’re going to have some fun.”
He added he wanted his new global show to be a “fearless forum for lively debate”, where everyone had the right to an opinion, which would be “vigorously examined and challenged”. He will also be writing weekly columns for The Sun and Murdoch’s New York tabloid, The New York Post.
Morgan had kept a relatively low profile since leaving Good Morning Britain. In an interview in April 2021, he claimed he had the “universal support” of the British public over his comments about the Duchess of Sussex. Ofcom cleared ITV of any wrongdoing in relation to the controversy in September 2021.
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