Book Review: Piers Morgan's Diaries: Shooting Straight

6 Nov 2013 at 13:39

I’ve never quite understood why so many people appear to hate Piers Morgan. I like him. I find him funny, witty, entertaining and, yes, often thoroughly irritating. People write about him as if he is somehow thick and has got to where he has purely by luck and good fortune. It’s bizarre that people don’t seem to understand that you don’t get to where he has if you are devoid of talent. Yes, he has had Rupert Murdoch, and latterly Simon Cowell, to guide and help him, but the ability has to be there if you are to rise to the top.

Piers became editor of the News of the World at 28 and then moved to edit the Mirror. He still doesn’t accept that the reason for his departure – the faked photos, were ever proved to be fake.

After he left the Mirror he published a set of diaries which were clearly very different to other diaries in they appeared – at least in part – to have been written retrospectively. As a connoisseur of the genre of diaries I would normally run a mile from a book like that, but I was completely gripped by it. His second volume was even better. But it was with a slight sense of impending disappointment that I approached this latest volume, as I expected it to be one big name drop. In a sense it is, but it is also so much more than that. It’s the story about a Brit conquering American and his first 18 months hosting CNN’s main talk show.

It’s a roller-coaster ride and although at times it concentrates too much on consecutive programmes and guests, you do get a real sense of Piers Morgan’’s own lack of self-confidence. Yes, you read that correctly. Piers is often seen as the world’s ultimate extrovert, yet deep down I detect an innate shyness. You might say that he keeps it well hidden, but it comes to the fore when he is covering news stories and interviews which are emotional in tone. He gets it right by never prying too far. Yes, he wants his guest to show emotion, but he doesn’t want to exploit them, and in an interviewer that is a real talent.

Let me be blunt. I think Piers Morgan is one of the great interviewers of our time. His LIFE STORIES programmes are rarely anything other than gripping, even when the celebrity he is interviewing is someone the viewer doesn’t really care much about. It’s a modern day THIS IS YOUR LIFE with added emotion. I haven’t watched much of his CNN show but from what I have seen, and from what I read, he gets the big guests and most of them want to return. It’s not because he always gives soft interviews, it’s because he’s fair but hard when he needs to be.

The second half of this book revolves around Piers Morgan’s campaign to persuade the US government to restrict guns laws. It’s a very brave campaign and although he doesn’t say it, I suspect he has put himself in some considerable personal danger. He exposes the arguments put forward by the NRA and its supporters for what they are and relates some fairly incendiary anecdotes about guests who have appeared on his show and whose arguments he destroys.

I think Piers Morgan has it in him to become a great interviewer. But I suspect he has a very short attention span and after three or four years on CNN his gaze will wander to other projects. The question is if the US will remain his main area of operation or if he will return to these shores. I suspect he will follow the path of David Frost and try to do both And good luck to him.