Piers Morgan's name came up twice during yesterday's Parliamentary hearing into News Corp.'s phone hacking.
After the hearing, Morgan--who has covered the scandal on his CNN show, but has been relatively mum on his experience as an editor at News of the World and the Daily Mirror—lashed out at Louise Mensch, the Conservative member of Parliament who brought up Morgan and his 2005 book, "The Insider: The Private Diaries of a Scandalous Decade."
"As she may be already aware, she came out with an absolute blatant lie during those proceedings," Morgan, via phone, told his colleague Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room" while Mensch was being interviewed via satellite. "At no stage in my book or indeed outside of my book have I ever boasted of using phone hacking for any stories."
Morgan continued: "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."
In the book, the editor-turned-celebrity-interviewer-and-reality-show-judge alludes to phone hacking activity by British tabloids.
During the Parliament hearing, Mensch criticized Rupert and James Murdoch for not investigating Morgan:
Piers Morgan, who is now a celebrity anchor at CNN, you do not appear to have asked him any questions at all about phone hacking ... As a former editor for the Daily Mirror, he said in his book 'The Insider' recently, and I quote, 'that little trick of entering a standard four-digit code allows anyone to call that number and hear all your messages.' In that book, he boasted that using that little trick enables him to win scoop of the year for a story about [former England national soccer team manager] Sven-Goran Eriksson. So that is a former editor of the Daily Mirror being very open about his personal use of phone hacking.
Morgan—who served as editor of the News of the World from 1994 to 1995 and the Daily Mirror from 1995 to 2004—immediately responded via Twitter: "That MP just claimed I boasted in my book of using phone-hacking for a scoop. Complete nonsense. Just read the book."
On Blitzer's show, Mensch—who is married to the manager of the band Metallica—refused to repeat what she said during the Parliament hearing for fear of a lawsuit.
"To repeat something outside of Parliament doesn't give me that cloak of privilege, and Mr. Morgan is a very rich man," she said. "So, I'm sure that the ferocious investigative journalists at CNN and across the news media in the United States will take careful note of what was said in the committee and look into it."
This, understandably, incensed Morgan.
"I'm amused by her cowardice," Morgan said. "What she did today was a deliberate, in my view, and outrageous attempt to smear my name, CNN's name, 'The Daily Mirror's' name. And I think her now to have the breathtaking gall to just sit here calmly and say, I can't possibly repeat that cause I haven't got privilege, is an outrage."
Morgan added: "Show some balls, repeat what you said about me, and then maybe go and buy a copy of my book and see where in that book these claims you made today--in a televised committee meeting watched all over the world—where that claim is. Because it isn't there."
You can view the clips below:
- Wolf Blitzer
- The Situation Room
- British tabloids
- James Murdoch
- Conservative member of Parliament