Piers Morgan is oblivious to lines. He clumsily wades back and forth over them pretty regularly. It's never earth-shattering news to find out he's offended someone. But on Monday's episode of Good Morning Britain, he pushed things too far once again and it really stood out. During Piers Morgan's interview with Love Island's Rosie Williams, he wasn't doing the job of a journalist. He was just plain rude.
Let's start with his opening question: "Rosie, you achieved a postgraduate masters of law degree, from the University of Law in Chester, and you've given up all that to go into a villa full of halfwits to try and have sex on national TV. Why?" Was that really necessary? Talk about a rude opener.
Firstly, at what point has Williams ever said she is walking away from law? Nothing she says or does, on national TV or otherwise, can take away her education. She is fully-qualified solicitor regardless of what TV shows she decides to participate in. And as for that part about sex? Firstly, she didn't have sex in the villa. In fact, ITV producers (aka your bosses) deliberately go out of their way to downplay sex scenes. "That's not what this show is about," producers have told me in the past. Secondly, even if she had chosen to have sex on the show, it still doesn't take away from her achievements. Period. The idea that sexual activity somehow diminishes a woman's achievement is deeply sexist and needs to be retired, pronto.
Despite the fact he has previously insisted that he doesn't watch Love Island, other than for the one occasion he "accidentally stumbled across" it, Morgan went on to criticise the cast, suggesting to Williams that she'd never find a suitable love interested in the villa. "From what I've seen of most of the blokes in there, they're completely halfwitted. I mean, why would you think you'd find a match to be on your intellectual level?"
In the villa, there's currently an A&E doctor, an electrical systems design engineer, a government advisor, a business development manager, and a West End performer. Those job titles don't scream "halfwit" to me.
But it wasn't just Morgan's ignorance that was offensive during this interview. It was also the general patronising tone he used to talk to Williams. At one point he referred to her as "young lady". Young lady? She is a 26-year-old successful solicitor, with a masters degree in law. For someone that seems to judge others so heavily on their education and career, it's strange that Morgan is being so condescending on national TV to someone who has a better education than him.
But the straw that really broke the camel's back came when Morgan started ridiculing Williams after she spoke about wanting to empower women. She told him:
"I did always, in my legal career, want to make a difference. I wanted to go into criminal and family law — but there's no money in it right now. It does need to be completely revamped and looked at. So I ended up going into the civil and business side, which wasn't where my heart was, and I feel like now, I have a voice and now I have a large following, hopefully I can make a difference with empowering women. I've had so many girls come up to me since I've come home saying that I've helped them through break-ups, I've helped them to not feel victimised, and that they can stand up for themselves."
How did Morgan respond? By telling her he'd be "heartbroken" and "disappointed" if he were her father, and then suggested she wasn't doing anything for women by taking part in Love Island. Wow. Where do I start with this one? Firstly, what a hurtful comment to make on TV. Why would he presume to have an opinion in the role of her father, other than to reassert some narrative of some traditional patriarchy over her?
Secondly, who on earth does Morgan think he is to determine what women find empowering? He is a 53-year-old man. Perhaps he doesn't find Williams empowering, but let me tell you, there are plenty of women that were inspired by her stint on Love Island — especially when she stood up to Adam Collard after his behaviour towards her, with the CEO of women's aid chalked up as gaslighting and emotional abuse:
Despite Morgan's patronising and rude line of questioning, Williams kept her cool throughout the interview and stood her ground. Putting the presenter back in his place, she told him: "My family are very proud of me. I don't think I made myself look stupid on the TV. I was working 18 hour days in a law firm getting sleepless nights. [Law is] not as glamorous as it seems."
"When I work 18 hour days, I haven't got a lot of time to go out and meet men and try and find love. It's been very difficult for me. I've studied for eight years. It's not a lot of time for me. This was a time to actually spend 24 hours a day with hopefully someone I could spend the rest of my life with."
It would be nice to think that Morgan was coming from a place of genuine concern, but the fact that he went on to call Williams (well, all Love Island contestants) "reptiles", "stupid," and "halfwits" strongly suggests otherwise. As his co-host Susanna Reid pointed out, it seem his only real aim here is to "humiliate" everyone and anyone that's ever participated in the show. That's not journalism. In fact, it's not even entertainment.
At the end of the day, people have the right to find love whichever way they please, whether that's online or on TV. By appearing on a show like Love Island, Williams has made herself a public figure and is now someone with a huge following that looks up to her, not just because of her career and education but because of how she stood up for herself to Adam (and now Piers Morgan, too).