Chat show host Piers Morgan, who believes he may be perceived as a “young British upstart” in the US, has questioned the Guardian’s moral and ethical position as “great bishops of all things moral in the print trade”.
Morgan, who edited the Daily Mirror from 1995-2004 before being sacked over a hoax photo scandal, denies all knowledge of illegal voicemail interception activity although told the BBC Radio 4 Media Show that he “heard a lot of rumours that this was more widespread than people were letting on”.
“…I don’t think any newspaper editor in Britain has a clue of what half his journalists are up to,” he told the show’s host Steve Hewlett. “I remember having dinner with the Great Bishop Alan Rusbridger where he had no idea what was on his front page that night, at all. It wasn’t his department he said – it was his home affairs editor.”
Once again, he used the opportunity to defend former News of the World editor Andy Coulson who resigned as the Prime Minister’s media adviser in January 2011:
“Editors don’t know the half of it. I feel very angry for a friend. Let’s forget Andy as a journalist. For a friend who has now lost two incredibly high powered jobs on supposition – not fact. Not a shred of evidence has come forward against him…”
“I don’t know the facts because I haven’t been involved in it – at all. What I can tell you is that it wouldn’t surprise me at all that stories get into papers every single day on all types of newspaper, where the editor doesn’t know anything about them and it gets done at a lower level by executives…”
“The interesting thing about phone hacking for me is the very curious moral and ethical position of the Guardian, who have appointed themselves these great bishops of all things moral in the print trade, and yet they quite happily published Wikileaks day in, day out and they based it in absolute knowledge – unlike Andy Coulson who has denied any knowledge of what was going on in terms of the material coming into the paper from alleged illegal methodology – in the Wikileaks case, the Guardian editor knew, absolutely, where the Wikileaks were coming from. ”
“I would like to know the moral and ethical distinction between an editor who denies knowing that he knew material was gained illegally and it got published in his paper and an editor who openly says I know these documents were gained illegally.”
He questioned the public interest in the Guardian’s story about Colonel Gaddafi’s [alleged] lover/s, calling it a “good old fashioned tabloid sex romp revelation”. [NB: I can’t find a story to match the one he described].
Back on phone hacking, he ended tangentially, asking what would have happened if News of the World had intercepted messages about a terrorist plot:
“Do I think this [phone hacking] is the greatest crime in the world? What would have happened, for example, if the News of the World had been hacking Osama bin Laden’s phone and had heard him planning another atrocity like 9/11? It’s just a simple question – would that have been permissible even though technically it breached the latest data protection laws? It’s an interesting question to throw out there.”