Big shoes to fill as the risk-taker exits stage left

He was the charismatic leader of a national institution that had once been significantly more popular than it is now.

His charm and personality meant that although he was rarely off our television screens, some felt he had become bigger than the people he represented.

He had made dramatic policy U-turns and big errors.

Somehow, though, he always came up smiling.

The most serious of these mistakes had led to calls for his head, yet after an official inquiry, it was other people who lost their jobs.

Now he had been found guilty in the court of public opinion of having misled the country. The safety of British soldiers was at stake. He surely had to go.

So much for Tony Blair.

But what of Piers Morgan? The Daily Mirror editor’s nine-year run of sensational scoops interspersed with huge howlers – and never let it be forgotten by how many the former outnumbered the latter – was in jeopardy once the doubts over those Iraqi torture pictures became so serious. Regardless of the fact that they may well have illustrated a wider truth, they were presented as hard evidence – and that is what they needed indisputably to be.

The reputation of the Daily Mirror had been staked on them, and Morgan had either to hold his hands up or lose his job. He chose the latter.

There may have been shadowy figures of American corporate shareholders whispering in the background, but his fate was probably already sealed once he opted to stand by something that most of the country ending up believing was fake.

Not that this excuses the shabby way Morgan was escorted from the building like a criminal, with his jacket still on the back of his office chair.

The lessons for us all remain. As with Andrew Gilligan, journalistic inexactitude has been exploited by a government to obscure the real story.

But in the same way, Morgan’s final blunder shouldn’t be allowed to obscure the fact that he is a tabloid editor of rare talent in an era when commercial and circulation success are as elusive as at any time in history.

With fewer resources available than his main rival, he knew that quick feet and risk-taking had to be the order of the day and that the only thing worse than being talked about was not being talked about.

Most of all, he knew it should be fun.

Piers Morgan’s are big shoes for Trinity Mirror to fill.

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