UK regulator clears Piers Morgan over comments on Meghan
LONDON, Sept 2, (AP): Britain’s media regulator on Wednesday cleared TV personality and journalist Piers Morgan of any violations for making comments about Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, that drew more than 50,000 viewer complaints, the largest number ever received by the watchdog agency.
The Office of Communications, known as Ofcom, said Morgan did not breach the broadcasting code when he said on “Good Morning Britain” that he did not believe what Meghan said during an interview with Oprah Winfrey in which the duchess said she had suicidal thoughts while struggling to fit in with the monarchy.
“This is a resounding victory for free speech and a resounding defeat for Princess Pinocchios. Do I get my job back?” Morgan, 56, tweeted in response to the Ofcom decision.
Meghan, who before she married Prince Harry in May 2018 was an American actress known as Meghan Markle, told Winfrey that royal officials ignored her concerns about her mental health and that she faced racist attitudes.
Morgan attracted a flood of complaints when he commented during the March episode of “Good Morning Britain” that he did not “believe a word she says” and that “I wouldn’t believe her if she read me a weather report.”
Many mental health campaigners slammed him for dismissing mental illness, and Meghan herself filed complaints with Ofcom and broadcaster ITV. Morgan quit the show after the uproar over his comments.
Ofcom said that while Morgan’s comments were “potentially harmful and offensive to viewers,” regulators “took full account of freedom of expression.”
“Under our rules, broadcasters can include controversial opinions as part of legitimate debate in the public interest,” the office said in a statement.
“The restriction of such views would, in our view, be an unwarranted and chilling restriction on freedom
Morgan, known for speaking his mind and often stirring controversies with his opinions, previously appeared as a judge on “America’s Got Talent.”
Nate Burleson has been doing morning television since 2016, but he is about to become a familiar face to a new audience. Burleson will debut as one of the co-hosts when “CBS Mornings” debuts on Sept. 7. He will team with Gayle King and Tony Dokoupil while Anthony Mason moves to reporting on arts and culture.
The “CBS Mornings” role is part of a long-term contract extension Burleson signed with CBS last month. He had been one of the hosts of NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” since 2016 before joining CBS Sports one year later as an analyst on “The NFL Today” on Sunday during football season.
Burleson said the biggest challenge with going to “CBS Mornings” will be the ability to stay on his toes.
“We’re talking about a wide variety of things,” he said. “So being able to stay on your toes, be reactive, and then turn that into an informative, entertaining uplifting show, that’s the challenge. But to be honest with you, I don’t look at it like a challenge. These are the things that I’m interested in and I talk about when I go home. Now, I get to join a crew and deliver this information to the viewer on a daily basis.”
Burleson — who was a wide receiver for 11 seasons in the NFL — will continue to be an analyst on “The NFL Today,” which kicks off its season on Sept. 12.
Burleson has contributed to CBS News since 2017. While some of the topics have been about sports, he has also been able to share views on finance, athletes investing, art and entertainment. Burleson thinks his varied interests will be a good mix with Dokoupil and King. Burleson did fill in as a guest host on the morning show earlier this year
“You have different individuals that bring something specific to the table. My job as a teammate is to help enhance those things and bring those out,” he said. “I think one of my best qualities is that when it’s time for me to be Robin, I will be that support system to Batman, and I’m OK in that role. When when you want me to take center stage, I got no problem.
The rebranding of CBS’ morning franchise — which includes the longtime Sunday show as well as Saturday — and Burleson’s addition are the first major personnel move by CBS News’ new leadership team of Neeraj Khemlani and Wendy McMahon as well as “CBS Mornings” executive producer Shawna Thomas.
The sunshine logo and trumpet opening that have been a part of “CBS Sunday Morning” since its debut in 1979 will now be on all the morning shows.
“All CBS News morning broadcasts will now be part of the same family, with a focus on original reporting and exquisite storytelling, connected by the sound of the iconic trumpet music and an ethos of optimism that carries all the way through to the sunshine logo itself,” Khemlani said in a statement.