It’s time to set our alarms, open our eyes and ‘Wake Up’. Piers Morgan tells us why he won’t sit still until we’ve dropped the cancel culture and got back some much needed common sense.
The world needs your book – do you think people WILL wake up and listen?
I hope so. We’ve all been given the biggest wake up call of your lives with this pandemic and it’s an opportunity for all of us to take a good long hard look at ourselves and decided what kind of society we want to be when we come out of it. The crisis has brought out the best and worst in people – we need to see more of the former and less of the latter going forward.
Why have we lost our common sense and can we get the “Great” back into Britain?
I think social media is mostly to blame – it’s made people very tribal and allergic to proper debate where you listen to opposing views, respect them, and perhaps adjust yours accordingly. Now the ‘cancel culture’ is so insidious and widespread that people are terrified of expressing opinions for fear of the backlash from the woke outrage machine. It’s absurd and dangerous for free speech.
Do you think the snowflake generation is self-perpetuating?
It will be if we don’t get a grip of the way we teach young people and encourage them to be more resilient and less ‘anxious’ about everything. I blame participation prizes in school sport, even for those who come last – it makes kids think life is never about losing when of course, it is.
The crisis has brought out the best and worst in people – we need to see more of the former and less of the latter going forward.
As a society how can we inspire the next generation to dig deep, stand up and speak their minds?
We need to teach it at schools, like we teach them everything else, and stop wrapping kids in cotton wool. And we need to encourage them have their own opinions, not run with the crowd because that’s easier.
As parents and educationalists, what can we do to reverse the ‘woke’ mentality?
We need to stop cow-towing to it, and make a stand. Just because a bunch of shrieking wokies on Twitter say something or someone has to be ‘cancelled’ because they don’t like it, doesn’t mean they’re right or that anyone has to act on the hysteria.
What would be your political utopia?
A return to old fashioned liberal democracy where can argue respectfully with each other but remain friends.
How did you get into journalism?
I went to a journalism college in Harlow Essex, and then onto local papers in South London. I put the hard yards in and learned my trade properly. It helped that I always wanted to be a journalist. I’ve always been addicted to news.
Did school impact on your choice of career?
Not really, I knew from the age of six what I wanted to be.
To be a good journalist you to be endlessly curious, endlessly questioning about people in power, and endlessly charming to get people to tell you what they may not want to tell you!
What advice can you give to the younger generation wanting a career within the media? Only go into it if you’re really passionate about it, because without the passion you won’t put the hard work and dedication in that you need to be successful in a very competitive industry. To be a good journalist you need to be endlessly curious, endlessly questioning about people in power, and endlessly charming to get people to tell you what they may not want to tell you!
Most inspiring interview to date?
Professor Stephen Hawking gave me his last TV interview before he died and the morning I spent with him in Cambridge was unbelievably inspiring. What a man, what a mind… and not a trace of self-pity despite his very debilitating condition.
I once interviewed President Ahmadinejad of Iran when he was running the country and he had about 30 henchmen in the room all staring at me very intently throughout. That was….a tad disconcerting!
Who did you interview who was a surprise?
When I did Sir Michael Parkinson for Life Stories he suddenly broke down and wept about his dad who had died 50 years ago. I was stunned, because he’d never cried on TV before and I had no idea that this would make him so upset.
Are you scared of anyone?
Only the Grim Reaper – and even with him, I intend putting up one hell of a fight.
Who would you most like to interview going forward?
Jack Nicholson – he hasn’t given a TV interview for over 40 years, believing rightly that it dents the movie star mystique.
What was your most exciting scoop?
I think getting the first UK interview with President Trump after he won the election. Everyone wanted that one, and I got it because we’d been friends for years.
What do you see as your main objective on Good Morning Britain?
To wake everyone up!
Which 5 people (dead or alive) would you invite to dinner?
WG Grace, Winston Churchill, The Queen, Marilyn Monroe and Dennis Bergkamp.
What 3 things would you take to a desert island?
My phone, my laptop and an endless supply of Ambrose creamed rice.
My late, great grandmother Margot always told me: ‘Remember darling one day you’re cock of the walk, the next a feather duster.
Are you as confrontational away from the spotlight?
Not really, though friends will attest it doesn’t take much to turn on my GMB persona if the wine’s flowing at a dinner party and someone starts spouting woke nonsense…
When did your love of the Arsenal materialise?
I fell in love with them when they won the League/Cup Double in 1971 when I was six, and they’ve been the one constant love of my life ever since.
How do you keep fit?
At the moment, not easily because I broke my ankle several months ago. But usually, by swimming and cycling on my Peloton bike.
What do you do to relax?
I watch a lot of sport and binge-watch good dramas.
I don’t have any. I’ve learned as much from disasters as triumphs.
Motto for life?
My late, great grandmother Margot always told me: ‘Remember darling, one day you’re cock of the walk, the next a feather duster.’
This article featured in our Winter 2020 Magazine.
Wake Up is Piers’ rallying cry for a united future in which we reconsider what really matters in life. It is a plea for the return of true liberalism, where freedom of speech is king. Most of all, it is a powerful account of how the world finally started to wake up, and why it mustn’t go back to sleep again. Out now (HarperNonFiction, £20) amazon.co.uk