Under New Scrutiny, Piers Morgan Continues to Deny Involvement in Phone Hacking

Piers Morgan (CNN)

Piers Morgan (CNN)

Despite questions raised in a new report, Piers Morgan continues to deny any connection to the phone hacking practices that have rocked Rupert Murdoch‘s media empire and reached high into the British government. The “America’s Got Talent” judge and host of CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” is the subject of an article in the Daily Beast that surfaces a “nearly forgotten” 2009 BBC radio interview in which Morgan was asked about the reporting practices that fueled Fleet Street’s sensational tabloid headlines day after day. The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove was given a tape of the interview, which was trumpeted previously as a smoking gun. In retrospect, there may be a whiff of gun powder. On the tape, interviewer Kristy Young asks: ““And what about this nice middle-class boy who would have to be dealing with, I mean, essentially people who rake through people’s bins for a living? People who tap people’s phones, people who take secret photographs…who do all that very nasty down-in-the-gutter stuff—how did you feel about that?”

Morgan, who worked as an editor at both the now-shuttered News of the World and the Daily Mirror prior to his TV career, replied, “Well, to be honest, let’s put that into perspective as well. Not a lot of that went on…A lot of it was done by third parties, rather than the staff themselves…That’s not to defend it, because obviously you were running the results of their work.” The Daily Beast makes two points: One that Morgan has tried to distance himself from the illegal reporting practices that seem to have been a part of Fleet Street practices, and two, that in the interview, Morgan added, “I’m quite happy to be parked in the corner of tabloid beast and to have to sit here defending all these things I used to get up to, and I make no pretense about the stuff we used to do.” After being contacted by the Daily Beast, Morgan continued to deny involvement. “There is no contradiction between my comments on Kirsty Young’s Desert Island Discs show and my unequivocal statements with regard to phone-hacking,” Morgan said in a statement…As I have said before, I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, nor to my knowledge published any story obtained from the hacking of a phone.”

The Daily Beast story is a worth while read if only to watch the media feed on its own. As Politico noted, “What’s interesting about these interviews is that they are not some secret document – they are very public press reports. They show just how comfortable Morgan felt being open about how widespread phone-hacking was, back when it was royals and celebrities who were the only ones known to have been hacked. Milly Dowler changed everything.” Now, it appears, we’ll watch and wait for more changes. One note: It would be fascinating if Morgan were to take hold of the story and do a show on it.

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