Daily Mirror: took anti-war stance
The applause he received from the audience on BBC’s Question Time lulled Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan into a false sense of security about his newspaper’s vehemently anti-war stance, he has admitted.
He acknowledged that although he had been “acting on a point of principle” his decision to continue to oppose the war had resulted in “virtual commercial meltdown”.
Daily Mirror sales plummeted to 1,997,846 in March – the first time in 70 years that circulation had fallen below two million.
At a conference to mark World Press Freedom Day, Morgan described how he had “emerged as a gladiatorial hero” when he appeared on the current affairs programme and had been applauded as soon as he walked on the set.
“It was an unusual and pleasant experience which lulled me into a massive sense that I was completely right and that the British public would rush to buy my paper,” said Morgan, who has edited the Daily Mirror since 1995.
But Morgan insisted he would take the same position again, although he would warn his bosses and challenge his readers not to “just bugger off when you are told it’s unpatriotic” to oppose the war.
“I think it’s my responsibility to counter the Murdoch factor and report what went on,” said Morgan who pointed out that only one of the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspapers did not support the war.
“Before the war started we had healthy circulation and stunning responses from our readers,” said Morgan, adding that his “only misjudgement” was putting anti-war messages on the front-page.
“The Mirror fell foul of the reality TV aspect of this war,” he claimed. “We were anti during the Afghanistan conflict and sold a lot of papers and won a lot of awards.
“But people weren’t watching 24-hour coverage then and so, even though in some cases it was exactly the same people risking their lives, it was a pure and simple case of patriotic fervour. They were convinced by other parties that it would be disloyal and unpatriotic not to get behind our boys.”
Morgan criticised The Sun editor’s decision to write to Daily Mirror readers telling them it was “disloyal and unpatriotic” to oppose the war.
“The Sun has had a great commercial war, thank you very much,” said Morgan.
“We’ve had huge commercial problems but I think we will be totally vindicated in a couple of years.”
By Julie Tomlin