Piers Morgan has given Tucker Carlson on Fox News his first TV interview since leaving Good Morning Britain after criticising the Duchess of Sussex and has claimed he has the “universal support” of the British public in the row.
Morgan left his job on the ITV breakfast show last month after he questioned whether Meghan had been telling the truth when she and her husband, Prince Harry, gave their tell-all interview to Oprah Winfrey.
He cast aspersions on her claim that negative press and lack of support from the royal household had left her suicidal, and that a request for help with this had been rebuffed by a senior person in the monarchy.
Morgan’s comments provoked an outcry and led to an on-air confrontation with weather presenter Alex Beresford on next morning’s show. The day after that it was announced that the former newspaper editor had quit his post as host.
In his first TV interview since the row, Morgan told Fox News presenter Tucker Carlson, one of the US’s foremost conservative broadcasters, that he stood by his comments, and claimed he had the backing of the majority of the British public.
“Old, young, black, white, it didn’t matter. They’ve been coming up to me in their droves all day every day,” he said.
Morgan went on to accuse the couple of the “most extraordinarily disingenuous smear, hit job” on the royal family. He added that many either agreed with his comments on Meghan, or defended his right to free speech. “The British people have seen through this,” he said.
It is understood that ITV executives wanted Morgan to apologise on-air for his initial response to the Winfrey interview. Instead, he said on the next day’s programme: “When we talked about this yesterday, I said as an all-encompassing thing, I don’t believe what Meghan Markle is saying generally in this interview, and I still have serious concerns about the veracity of a lot of what she said.
“But let me just state on the record my position about mental illness and on suicide. These are clearly extremely serious things that should be taken extremely seriously.”
Later that show Beresford told him on air: “I understand that you don’t like Meghan Markle, you’ve made it so clear a number of times on this programme, and I understand you’ve got a personal relationship with Meghan Markle and she cut you off.
“She’s entitled to cut you off if she wants to. Has she said anything about you since she cut you off? I don’t think she has but yet you continue to trash her.”
In response Morgan briefly left the set, which Beresford called “pathetic”, but later returned to front the rest of the show. Ofcom later received 41,000 complaints about his comments. His departure from the show was announced the following day.
Morgan rose to fame as editor of the News of the World, and later the Daily Mirror. He took over from Larry King on CNN, presenting his own show, which was cancelled after three series in 2014. He joined Good Morning Britain the year after, and went on to become praised for challenging government ministers as the Covid-19 pandemic unfolded.
In his interview with Carlson, which lasted for more than an hour, he accused the Sussexes of telling “so many ridiculous whoppers” in their March interview, and dismissed claims he was racist for not believing them.
“[The interview was] tacky, tasteless, disingenuous, and I’m afraid, I believe, in some cases, downright lying on a global scale”.
He went on to admit he should not have walked off-set, and addressed his former co-host Susanna Reid’s statement after his departure, alleging she was “in the grip of fear”.
“I think she was fearful that if she went too far in saying nice things about me, the same thing might happen to her, that there would be a huge Twitter pile-on,” he said.
Morgan claimed he had received “a lot” of job offers since leaving the show. He has been linked with joining new TV startup GB News.
This article was amended on 6 April 2021. The original incorrectly stated that Piers Morgan edited the Daily Mirror before the News of the World. He was actually editor of the News of the World before moving on to the Mirror.