Piers Morgan, the former editor for Rupert Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World, dedicated a segment of his CNN show Monday to defending the media mogul.
Former New York Post reporter Vicky Ward, who is a personal friend of Murdoch's, joined Morgan.
"Piers, I just got a call an hour ago, and Rupert wanted to tell me personally that, you know, he's not okay," Ward reported. "Ever since he met with Milly Dowler, the murdered girl's parents, he hasn't felt the same. His voice has been cracking, people around him are very concerned, his children are very concerned. This is a man who is more devastated than he has ever been in his entire 80 years, and you know, he is appalled at what's gone on on his watch, and I think he's as anxious to get to the bottom of it as we all are."
"I just cannot accept -- although there is this huge witch hunt going on to bring him down personally -- I don't accept that he himself would be party to illegal activity," Morgan asserted.
"I completely agree with you, Piers," Ward replied.
"He became a friend to me when I was at The New York Post, he would stop by my office and talk to me. He wanted to know what tomorrow's headlines were. He would not in any way want to interfere with a story. This is a man who cares so much about his legacy. He once said to me, 'All I want is for my kids to be decent people.'"
"I wouldn't want this to become a kind of valedictory, he's perfect kind of segment," Morgan said finally.
"The one thing about Rupert is that -- yes, he can be ruthless, but actually we can just talk about this, he's ruthless, but also entrepreneurial. He built an empire, often at great personal risk. But tomorrow I expect to see a very, very sincerely contrite person [when he appears before parliament]," Ward concluded.
The CNN host was drawn into the News Corp. phone hacking scandal when Liberal Democrat MP Adrian Sanders called for Morgan to be questioned.
The following entry from Morgan's diary had made Sanders suspicious:
"Apparently if you don't change the standard security code that every phone comes with, then anyone can call your number and, if you don't answer, tap in the standard four digit code to hear all your messages... I'll change mine just in case, but it makes me wonder how many public figures and celebrities are aware of this little trick."
UPDATE: John Amato
Morgan: I have a lot of sympathy for the people at the top because I don't think they had a clue what was going on. And I think it's one of those situations where until you know exactly what the scale of the problem is it's very hard to deal with it.
But what I do find stomach churning was your mate Hugh Grant on here the other day.A guy who has used the media. This is my problem with all the phone hacking victims. They've all used the media over the years to feather their nests, buy their houses flog their movies, sell out their concerts and now they're squealing like little pigs ove them edia and I just think it's perspective time again.
The Guardian is leading the charge on phone hacking. They believe it's wrong for any newspaper to publish material that has been gained unlawfully and yet the Guardian was the newspaper that published Wikileaks, which is openly an illegal form of material that's been acquired illegally that was very dangerous to many parts of the security services and the armed forces. They knew that and willfully published it and their arguments is well it was all in the public interst. Really? Colonel Ghadaffi's lovers? Which is one of the Wilileaks revelations? That's in the public interest?
There is no difference. It is sanctimonious, hypocritical bilge by the Guardian by the BBC -- sorry, they've piled in too -- by stars like Hugh Grant. The BBC, in my experience when I was a newspaper editory, you break a big juicy story, a big old scandal, and then what would happen is the Guardian and BBC the next day would say, "there are disgusting revelations in the Daily Mirror or news of the World so repellant that we are now going to talk about them for the next 20 minutes" and in the case of the Guardian we are going to run 17 pages.
You can't have your cake and eat it. If the BBC and the Guardian feel so strongly about this pruriant form of journalism then they should never cover it again.
He's right about the mainstream media being perfectly happy to run with scandals, but I think he's rather purposefully missing the point. Hacking into celebrities' answering machines is criminal. Hacking into crime victims' answering machines is just sick. And turning it all into a backscratching exercise with the police is a threat to a free and democratic society. Yes, the Ghadaffi lovers story exposed in Wikileaks was not really a matter of national interest. But "big juicy scandals" of the tabloid variety are hardly the main thrust of Wikileaks. And as far as I know, Wikileaks hasn't been blackmailing politicians with threats to expose their dirty personal laundry if they refuse to play ball. (It's possible, but I haven't heard of it.)
Piers Morgan is a prick. And sooner or later CNN is going to have to deal with this. At the very least the celebrities who are his bread and butter should ask themselves if it's worth whoring themselves out to someone who clearly has no respect for them whatsoever. He apparently thinks that if you use the media to sell something you've completely given up your rights
CNN hasn't had to face the chin music of hiring Morgan in the first place after he was part of News of The World hierarchy and has been beating his chest in defense of Murdoch--nonstop.