Online chat with Piers Morgan

This is an edited transcript of our live online chat with Piers Morgan. Previously (and notoriously) Editor of the Daily Mirror and News of the World, this year saw Piers launch First News, a weekly newspaper aimed at 7-14 year olds.

q.gif (351 bytes)JoolsTOOOOOOOoooooooooo: Loved your performance on Question Time, you certainly gave Jack Straw what for, could you have a go at Patricia Hewitt as well please? Ever thought of becoming a politician yourself? We could do with someone as forthright and as passionate as your good self.

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: I'd love to have a go at Patricia Hewitt, isn't she just the epitome of New Labour evil? I'd never be a politician, I've got far too many skeletons to hide.

q.gif (351 bytes)Roisin: Just wanted to say how much my boys (7 and 9) continue to enjoy First News. We'd been wanting such a product for ages, so (having seen the team behind it) subscribed before the first publication... and 5 months on my boys STILL fight over who gets to read it first. I know a lot of children's newspapers have failed spectactularly in the recent past. How successful has the paper been so far? And why have you not yet advertised through Mumsnet... or offered a discount?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: Glad your boys like First News. It is aimed at 7-14 year olds, but all three of my sons - Spencer, 13, Stanley, 9 and Bertie, 5 - love it. I think there is something in it for everyone. Other children's newspapers failed because they were too serious, worthy, and patronising to kids. We are a lively fun tabloid format paper that has the tone of Newsround, but is a bit more entertaining. We aim to inform, educate, fascinate and amuse. Which is, I think, why kids, parents and teachers ALL think we're 'cool.' We're giving away a special discount of 15% off a six month subscription to First News - the best offer out there. To take advantage, you need to quote MUMSNET when ordering either online or on the web. The cost is £22.10 (normal price £26).
The subs hotline is 0870 4288222. We also have a website, updated all the time:

q.gif (351 bytes)SofiaAmes: You have just appeared on America's Got Talent where you made a fairly high percentage of the contestants, many of whom were children, cry because of your (in my opinion) cruel comments. At the time you excused your behavior by saying that you were just being honest. Is your new newspaper going to embody this same tough love, tell it like it is approach?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: Americans cry a lot, I'm afraid. It's not my fault. But I certainly believe in being honest with kids, and giving them a bit of 'tough love' as you put it. The likes of Winston Churchill, Ian Botham and Richard Branson didn't get where they did by being told they were wonderful every day. I praise my boys when they do well, and encourage them when they don't. But I get angry if I know they haven't tried their best.

q.gif (351 bytes)ScreamandYellowFeathers: I'd like to know if the paper plans to take on a similar look or tone to these celeb magazines? More and more young children seem to be reading them and, after watching a programme the other day about anorexia, it seems that (the image portrayed by) a lot of the celebrities featured in these magazines is partly to blame. Would you agree with that?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: Yes, celebrities have a lot of responsibility to children as role models. They get a lot of perks out of fame - cars, houses, freebies and so on. The least they can do is say sensible things. Graham Norton's 'drugs are wonderful' interview was a classic case in point. He was wrong to say it, and given his age rather pathetic too.

q.gif (351 bytes)Fairyjay: I've got a paparazzi style shot of you on a beach in Barbados. For 100K it's yours - if not, it might find it's way on to this website. Topless, as well!

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: For god's sake sell those paparazzi photos of me on the Barbados beach quick - I need the publicity. Are they the ones of Jodie Kidd sticking her tongue down my throat?

q.gif (351 bytes)Overrun: Do you regret any of the times you were not there for your children due to your job, given that ultimately your career didn't go as planned.

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: I do regret not seeing more of my kids as an editor. But since I was so cruelly fired, I've got to see a lot more of them. In fact, too much I suspect. My oldest said yesterday: 'Dad, can you go back to being an editor because I'm bored with having to fill your days for you.'

q.gif (351 bytes)Willow2: Favourite Arsenal player of all time? Thoughts on Rosicky?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: My favourite Arsenal player ever is Ian Wright, a natural goalscorer and a total nutcase. As for Rosicky, its early days but I like what I see. I think we'll win the Premiership this year, Chelsea's roubles are crumbling.

q.gif (351 bytes)Yeahbat: Do you think you were "set-up" over the fake Iraq abuse photos?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: I don't know if I was set up over those Iraq photos, but I do know that we still don't know who took them, what they depict, where they were taken, or anything. And since some British soldiers have now started admitting they abused Iraqi civilians, I think I am entitled to feel rather proud of what we exposed. My own brother has just returned from Iraq, and he thought we were right to expose the abuse because it had been going on, and real decent oldiers hate it.

q.gif (351 bytes)Caffeinequeen: Of all the people you've met and interviewed, who did you like the most... and the least?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: The person I most enjoyed meeting was Diana, what a laugh she was. Sexy, bright, funny and mischievous. And the least impressive was Cherie Blair, a poisonous back-stabbing, charmless little creature.

q.gif (351 bytes)Batters: Can we have the truth about those shares, please? Don't worry you can trust us Mumsnetters, we have the morals of Fleet Street journalists, and wouldn't breath a word to anyone else...

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: Regarding the 'shares' scandal: I was cleared, three others were convicted.
You do the maths.

q.gif (351 bytes)bctmum: Haven't seen the paper yet - but do children have the chance to write and edit it?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: Yes. We actively involve kids right through the paper, from reporting to reviewing, to choosing stories for the front page. This is a paper written mainly by kids, for kids. Which is why, surprise surprise, kids like it.

q.gif (351 bytes)ginmummy: Mr Morgan, we know what kind of undergarments Major, Cameron, Kennedy et al favour - could you tell us what are your preferred style of underpants? Boxers, jockeys, slips, y-fronts, thongs or commando?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: I wear Calvin Klein boxers - is there anything else a real man could possibly wear?

q.gif (351 bytes)saltire: Is there any story you regret printing when you were editor of the Mirror?
And why did you give print and paper space to that horrible Paul Burrell?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: I wish we hadn't printed an exclusive that Paul McCartney and Heather Mills had had a baby under the headline 'IT'S A BOY!". Because the next day we discovered it was a girl. As for Paul Burrell, I believe every word he says about Diana and so should you. I saw them together many times, and he was the one she really trusted.

q.gif (351 bytes)RTKangaMummy: How much is First News?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: First News is £1, very good value for a weekly paper. Most kids' magazines cost over £2 these days.

q.gif (351 bytes)HuwEdwards: What are your prime objectives (apart from making money) in producing a paper for this age group?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers:Not THE Huw Edwards? shouldn't you be preparing the news? Anyway, our prime objectives on First News are to get kids reading again. They spend far too much time looking at screens, playing video games and watching TV. We want them to spend at least some time once a week reading a paper that explains what's going on in Britain, and the word, in language they can understand.

q.gif (351 bytes)niceglasses: Piers, tell us about Gordon (Brown). Feed my addiction. I worry about him, but so want him to succeed.

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: Gordon Brown takes politics seriously, and I like that. I've had enough of pop stars running the country and taking us into illegal wars. Gordon's very charming away from his job, too.

q.gif (351 bytes)moaningpaper: As today IS World Mental Health Day, have you ever personally experienced mental ill health, and how did you manage/cope with it?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: I saw Alastair Campbell talking about depression on TV this morning and laughed. Sexing up the Iraq war dossier left a lot of poor innocent people in Iraq pretty depressed too, Alastair.

q.gif (351 bytes)Slug: What are you doing in your childrens' newspaper to dispell the myth (perpetrated by your adult publications) that the only way to happiness for a woman is through the approval of men? Are you going to regularly report on womens' sport for example? Or are you going to do what most newspapers in this country do and report mainly on football, with the occasional foray into female sport, (but only if they are winners and dress in really skimpy clothes)? Are you going to educate girls that they don't have to get their tits out for the lads or be anexoric clothes horses to be valuable members of society?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: I totally agree that the media is complicit in encouraging girls to expose their breasts and starve themselves. We fully intend challenging issues like this in FN and making sure the next generation of girls think there is a better, healthier, more dignified route to happiness.

First News is an equal opportunities paper, right down the line. We have as many girls reading us as boys, and take that very seriously to ensure they get as much girl-related stories/issues as the boys.

q.gif (351 bytes)Slug: What are these girls stories then? Ponies and lipstick? Define 'girl related issue' for me.

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: Try reading First News, then you might realise it is not the News of the World in disguise. 'Girl-related issues' mean just that. There are things like anorexic fashion role models which pertain to girls only, that we will highlight and criticise.

q.gif (351 bytes)TwigTwolett: What made you turn from journalist to media c'leb and do you regret it?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: What turned me from a journalist into a 'media c'leb' was getting fired. And when I sit in my trailer on the Paramount movie lot surrounded by my bodyguards waiting to film my No1 hit American tv show, I regret it every single minute...

q.gif (351 bytes)Bundle: I really enjoyed your book, The Insider, though it was much more of a "dipping in" book (and chuckling on the tube) than a straight-through read. What kind of books do you enjoy reading and why?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: I like reading biographies. I enjoy discovering what makes people tick. The best book I've read recently was Brian Keenan's 'An Evil Cradling' about life as a hostage in Beirut. You will never moan about your life again.

q.gif (351 bytes)Bundle: One of the other former hostages, John McCarthy said that listening to programmes on the BBC World Service helped to keep him sane and alive when he was chained to a radiator. Who would you like to inspire you on the radio if you were similarly trapped?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: I'd like to be trapped in a Beirut cell for five years with Scarlett Johanssen. That would make it all so much more bearable.

q.gif (351 bytes)Enid: Do you think the market will now be overrun with 'tweenpapers'?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: First News is the only proper kids paper out there, and we are very confident that it will grow and grow into a major publishing force in this country. Everyone who sees it loves it.

q.gif (351 bytes)Zippitippitoes: Did Robert Maxwell commit suicide?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: Maxwell fell over his boat after dinner because he was too fat to stay upright as he had a pee. It was a suitably disgusting end to a disgusting man.

q.gif (351 bytes)Edam: Would you say you are a feminist?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: I'm not a feminist, but I love women - until they get too feminist.

q.gif (351 bytes) bakedpotatooooowoooh: Do you get a flicker of anxiety about bumping into people you've hacked off? There must be so many of them, all longing for your downfall.

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: I love meeting people I've hacked off, even when they punch me in the head like Jeremy Clarkson did. It makes the day more interesting.

q.gif (351 bytes)Kaloo20: I'm doing a charity cycle through Vietnam in November, am I too old to be a First News reporter and report back for your paper? (I have already cut out my Press Card just in case.)

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: Yes, you can report for FN from Vietnam.

q.gif (351 bytes)RTKangaMummy: Do your boys go to private school?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: Yes. I can afford it, and I want them to have the best education I can get them. I went to a private school to 13, then a state school until I was 18, and I loved both.

q.gif (351 bytes)Murdoch2: I've read your newspaper and think its fantastic and very informative to children. I have spare time on my hands when I drop my children to school and would love to sell it into the local schools and parents. You should offer some sort of sales schemes for mums, are you doing this? Every child should have access!

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: Great to hear you want to sell FN for us, and I think getting other mums out there doing the same is a great idea. We will let mumsnet know how this progresses.

q.gif (351 bytes)CheesyFeetcomingtoGETyou: Does First News have any obvious political leaning?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: FN is not a partisan political paper, we will give equal space to all parties and not take sides. We want kids to work it out for themselves.

q.gif (351 bytes)Jessicaandrebeccasmummy: Am i the only mumsnetter who DOESN'T think you are good looking?! Serious question - Why are you on Mumsnet today? What is in it for you?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: You DON"T fancy me? I think you need to see a doctor quickly. I'm on Mumsnet to plug First News and find six wives.

q.gif (351 bytes)Greensleeves: In the light of your pithy appraisal of the Prime Minister's wife, what would be your response to someone who called you a muck-racking, gold-digging, morally destitute sleazy little guttersnipe?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: I'd agree with every word. I like being all those things.

q.gif (351 bytes)ScareyCaligulaCorday: So where d'you get this paper then? I've never seen it.

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: You can buy FN in most supermarkets and places like WH Smiths. But the best, easiest and cheapest way is to take out a subscription.

q.gif (351 bytes)caffeinequeen: What's your favourite Abba track?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: Money Money Money (of course..)

q.gif (351 bytes)redbullbloodandbump:Will you do aricles on special needs to help educate children?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: We have a policy of portraying children with difficulties in a positive way. It is essential that the next generation grow up with an understanding of needs of other children who may not be the same as them. It is an issue we have covered in the past and will continue to on an ongoing basis - not as a one off special, it's too important for that and something we will be visiting time and time again.

q.gif (351 bytes)saltire: i haven't had a chance to read your new paper, but is it/does it take the opportunity to make children aware of healthy eating?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: Healthy eating is a massive priority for First News. We are working with Jamie Oliver on his various projects and will constantly bang the healthy eating drum for kids, because it's right to do so whatever those imbeciles think as they shove crisps at their kids outside the school gates to 'make a point.'

q.gif (351 bytes)fridascruffs: my boy's got a toy penguin called Piers. it swims in the bath and types faster than you.

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers:I'd like to meet that penguin. When are you next having a bath?

q.gif (351 bytes)Mercy: What makes a good father?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers:A good father needs infinite patience, boundless enthusiasm, kindness, the ability to score a goal, take a wicket, and hit a winning serve, and the strength to say 'NO' every now and again.

q.gif (351 bytes)QueenEagle: My husband does not have endless enthusiasm or patience, is crap at any sport, especially so at those which involve "taking wickets", "scoring goals" and "hitting a winning serve". Please explain why you feel he is not a good father for not having these qualities?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: I can't be bothered. Just leave him.

q.gif (351 bytes)JustineMumsnet: Did you know that a famous parenting guru has threatened to close Mumsnet and is still planning to sue us for alleged libel because of some comments made about her on our discussion boards. Do you have a view on the freedom of speech versus private reputations issue (particularly on the internet) and/ or any advice?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: Re your famous parenting guru throwing her toys out of the pram - I think free speech is everything. Keep taking her to task.

q.gif (351 bytes)Greensleeves: I think you are labouring under the misapprehension that you are here to plug your children's paper, make a few prepared soppy remarks about fatherhood and generally fluff up your image by making small talk with friendly mummies. Oh dear, oh dear.

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: I'm only here because you asked me to be here. If you don't like it, go and paint your nails and stop seething.

q.gif (351 bytes)SherlockLGJ: could you spot a mooncup at 40 paces or is it too "girl-related" for you ???

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: I love mooncups. What are your's like?

q.gif (351 bytes)TwigTwoolett: Ian Hislop... You've gotta love him... haven't you?

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: Ian Hislop is an irritating, hypocritical, moon-faced midget with the weakest handshake in Britain. Other than that, he's a lovely man.

q.gif (351 bytes)Kaloo20: I can't believe you had any idea what you were letting yourself in for this lunchtime.

a.gif (290 bytes)Piers: I knew exactly what I was getting myself into with Mumsnet. Two million mums, bored at lunchtime, either wanting to give me a hard time or sleep with me. It's been most amusing.

Dear everyone,

That was most entertaining, particularly all the abuse. I've quite missed all that since I was a tabloid editor.

I hope you all go and try First News now, if you and your kids read it but don't like it then that's fine. But I promise you that they, and you, will.

Thanks for having me, and if Greensleeves wants my number please don't give it to her. I want to play hard to get.

love Piers


Last updated: 9 months ago