Good Morning America’s Nick Watt on Thursday launched into a mocking attack on CNN host Piers Morgan and his role in the British hacking scandal. With barely restrained glee, Watt gloated, “The tide of scandal is now lapping into the well-pressed pant cuffs of the man who took Larry King’s chair and the America’s Got Talent self-proclaimed loud mouth.”
Watt played an audio clip from a 2009 interview in which a BBC reporter casually asked Morgan about his 11 years as editor of British tabloids and having to tap phones and take secret photos.
After initially saying that “not a lot of that went on,” Morgan added, “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, of their work.” [MP3 audio here.]
In a statement to ABC, Morgan defended that his answer “was not specific” to the hacking part of the question, but rather a more general rumination on being a tabloid editor.
Watt, like Morgan, is also British and no effort to hide the pleasure he seemed to take in the possible downfall of his colleague. He mused, “[Morgan’s] tabloid past is now tapping him on the shoulder and just might wipe the smile from his face.”
Continuing the attack, the GMA journalist pointed out that Morgan once attributed a big scoop to “learning” of a phone message.
After a lengthy silence, Morgan discussed his role as a tabloid on July 19. The host denied any knowledge of hacking.
On July 20, Morgan again denied the hacking charges and told a female member of Parliament to ” show some balls” and repeat a charge that he was involved in the scandal.
Watt also reminded viewers that Morgan was fired from the Mirror after publishing faked photos of Iraqi prisioners being abused by the British Army.
A transcript of the July 15 segment, which aired at 7:15am EDT, follows:
ROBIN ROBERTS: Let’s turn to the phone hacking scandal that’s rocking Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. CNN anchor Piers Morgan now defending himself against accusations he knew about illegal phone hacking when he was editor at two papers, one of them owned by Murdoch. ABC’s Nick Watt has the latest from London.
NICK WATT: The tide of scandal is now lapping into the well-pressed pant cuffs of the man who took Larry King’s chair and the America’s Got Talent self-proclaimed loud mouth. Because before all that-
PIERS MORGAN: I was the editor of two major British newspapers for 11 years.
WATT: And listen carefully to this recently unearthed interview.
UNIDENTIFIED HOST [Clip from Desert Island Discs BBC Radio Four]: And what about this nice middle class boy who would have to be dealing with, I mean, essentially, people who rake through bins for living. People who tap people’s phones. People who take secret photographs and do all that very nasty, down-in-the-gutter stuff. How did you feel about that?
MORGAN: Well, to be honest, let’s put that into perspective as well. Not a lot of that went on.
MORGAN: No. 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, of their work.
WATT: Morgan refused to speak to us but did speak to his own network, CNN.
MORGAN: For the record, in my time at The Mirror” and the News of the World, I have never hacked a phone, told anybody to hack a phone or published any story based on the hacking of a phone.
WATT: He gave us a statement which reads in part “my answer was not specific to any of the numerous examples she gave but a general observation about tabloid newspaper reporters and private investigators. ” But there’s more. Writing in the Daily Mail, Morgan once attributed a big scoop to, quote, “learning” of a phone message. And a disgruntled reporter who worked for Morgan told the Independent phone hacking was endemic. On Twitter he brands his accusers “liars, druggie ex-bankrupts and con men.” Now, Morgan lost his newspaper job for unwittingly publishing fake photographs but since flourished on TV. His tabloid past is now tapping him on the shoulder and just might wipe the smile from his face. For Good Morning America, Nick Watt, ABC News, London.
— Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.
Martin Bashir All But Tells John Boehner to ‘Go the F*** to Sleep’
MSNBC’s Martin Bashir not-so-subtly suggested Wednesday that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is a “baby” who should “go the f*** to sleep” and let Democrats deal with the debt ceiling issue.
Anchoring the afternoon program that bears his name, Bashir excoriated Boehner’s latest deficit-reduction proposal, which he dubbed a “ludicrous lullaby,” blaming the Ohio Republican for “this ridiculously prolonged, tortuous, and confused attempt to raise the debt ceiling.”
Bashir used “Go the F*** to Sleep,” a new children’s book written for adults about the difficulties of parenting, to set up his attack: “Mr. Boehner goes on, singing his nursery rhyme of more cuts, no taxes, of Cut, Cap, and Balance, of cut this, cut that, and don’t you dare raise revenues. I’ve been thinking, maybe it’s time for Mr. Boehner to hand over responsibility to Harry Reid and the president and for himself to go off to sleep.”
At the conclusion of his daily “Clear the Air” segment, Bashir turned the keys over to the 4 p.m. Eastern host, Dylan Ratigan, who, before starting his show, egged on the former ABC “Nightline” anchor to “just come out and say it!”
“I can’t use expletives on air, as you know,” replied Bashir.
In addition to ridiculing the Speaker of the House, Bashir painted his viewers a distorted picture of the debt limit negotiations.
Criticizing Boehner for having had his “counting skills exposed as entirely wrong” by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Bashir omitted that the CBO was slightly harder on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) math than Boehner’s. While the CBO reduced the savings in Reid’s plan by about 19 percent, knocking off about $500 billion from the $2.7 trillion total, the nonpartisan number crunchers shaved off only $150 billion in savings from Boehner’s $1 trillion plan, or about 15 percent.
Bashir also failed to acknowledge that much of Reid’s savings are derived from budget gimmicks. As Fox News reported, Reid’s plan includes $1 trillion in savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though the CBO typically spreads out current funding over 10 years, instead of predicting what might happen further down the road, as Reid would have it.
Although both sides are guilty of employing fuzzy math to boost their price tags, Bashir only focused on the Republicans’ infractions.
Earlier in the program, Bashir made a fleeting reference to the illusory savings in Reid’s plan, though he reserved his most pointed and personal criticism for Boehner and the Republicans.
A transcript of Bashir’s “Clear the Air” segment can be found below:
July 27, 2011
3:56 p.m. ET
MARTIN BASHIR: It’s time now to clear the air. And a new book on parenting is provoking some controversy because it seems to focus not on the joy that comes with a newborn, but the pain that a baby brings to his parents, especially when it comes to sleep. The audio version of Adam Mansbach’s book employs the voice of the great actor Samuel L Jackson. And here’s an example of how it reads.
SAMUEL L. JACKSON, actor: The whales huddled down in the deep, I’ll read you one very last book if you swear you’ll go the [expletive] to sleep.
BASHIR: For some parents, Adam Mansbach’s book is not before time, a chance to tell it like it is. Children are hard work, sleep is disturbed, and even loving parents can sometimes crack under the pressure and swear at their kids. And isn’t that exactly how all of feel about this ridiculously prolonged, tortuous, and confused attempt to raise the debt ceiling? One minute, Speaker Boehner says he has a bipartisan plan that will fly through the House. The next, his counting skills are exposed as entirely wrong by the Budget Office, and he can’t even rely on members of his own caucus, despite his bogus claims of bipartisanship. And this has been going on for six months, six months.
And the trouble is, just as parents see the clock ticking as they wait desperately for their child to go off to sleep, so now we have less than seven days to reach an agreement or trigger the first default in American history. It’s desperate and judging by the thousands of phone calls to Congress yesterday, Americans are becoming increasingly angry. And yet what do we hear today from Mr. Boehner? Another ludicrous lullaby that won’t pass through the Senate. And even if it got to the president, he’s already said he’ll veto it. But still, Mr. Boehner goes on, singing his nursery rhyme of more cuts, no taxes, of Cut, Cap, and Balance, of cut this, cut that, and don’t you dare raise revenues. I’ve been thinking, maybe it’s time for Mr. Boehner to hand over responsibility to Harry Reid and the president and for himself to go off to sleep. Thanks very much for watching. Dylan is fired up, chomping at the bit, and ready to take us forward. Dylan?
DYLAN RATIGAN, MSNBC anchor: Woooooooo ah just say it, Martin. Just come out and say it! I mean, listen, you’re right there.
BASHIR: I can’t use expletives on air, as you know. Or expletives as you like to say.
–Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.