Subscribe to Bitch—an award-winning, 80 page feminist magazine. Image Map

Douchebag Decree: Piers Morgan

douchedecree

No Piers, I'm not calling you out because you routinely dis audience favorites on America's Got Talent (although seriously, dude has built his career making people cry). No no, you are hereby declared an epic D-bag for interviewing one of the most intelligent, politically savvy women in the world and asking her why she's not married and what she'd cook you for dinner.  

piersmorgan1

Morgan was recently appointed as Larry King's CNN replacement, and this month marked his inaugural series of bound-to-be-uncomfortable interviews. It's not the discomfort that's the problem—journalists should ask questions public figures, politicians in particular, don't necessarily want to answer. It's that these questions are uncomfortable because they are SO BLATANTLY SEXIST. They're just not even good questions, bro! They were not displays of, in Piers's own words, "probing, journalistic rigor with a twinkle in the eye."

OK, first of all, the phrase "twinkle in the eye" is just creepy, and tinged with "boys will be boys" logic—i.e., describing children pre-conception as twinkles in their fathers' eyes. But second of all, it doesn't qualify as mischievous-yet-necessary journalism to ask the hugely accomplished Condoleezza Rice how many lovers she's had or if she dreams of princess weddings. It counts as misogynistic gossip-mongering. See for yourself:

There are a lot of questions Piers could have asked Condoleezza Rice. She worked extremely closely with one of the most controversial, divisive Presidents the United States has ever had. She backed George W. Bush up, she advised him, she fairly gushed about the guy. She was in the room for a lot of meetings the American people would probably love to hear about. But none of this matters because Piers is all, "WOMAN MAKE ME A SANDWICH," and Rice is all, "Well, it would actually be fried chicken, but OK..." and that's what we're letting pass as tough investigative reporting. 

Her answers to Morgan's string of insulting questions goes like this, just to sum up the video above, and with Rice's answers cut:

  • "How have you avoided being snared in the marriage trap?" (Nope, not making that up. He asked it.)
  • "How close have you come [to being married]?"
  • "How many times [have you almost been married]?"
  • "Do you dream of a fairy tale wedding?"
  • "How would I woo you?"
  • "I can't imagine you being a subservient wife. I imagine you'd be quite tough." (Again: this was on TV. I am not exaggerating.)
  • "Are you high maintenance?"
  • "What would you cook for me?"

Riddle me this: When was the last time you saw a male politician, or even a married female politician, get asked if they were high maintenance, or WHAT THEY WOULD COOK FOR THE REPORTER? I can't not write that question in caps lock. It's enraging. I wish that Rice had refused the question on principle. I wish she had pointed out what an enormous douchebag Piers was being. I wish she had responded by asking Piers exactly how many doctorates he has, languages he speaks, or National Security Councils he has led. When interviewed after the interview (???, but that's another question entirely), I wish Rice had not said she would gladly return to the show and praised Piers's "tough questions." She deserves criticism for deeming an outrageous, intelligence-disintegrating series of questions worthy of her time. But she didn't write the interrogation. 

Here's what would have happened if she had called Piers Morgan, le Douche extraordinaire, out on his sexist interview. She would have been called a bitch. Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter would probably have written her checks for the ratings they would get trashing her, despite sharing a political party. But the story today would be the b-word. And you know what? I don't agree with her politics, and I wish she had pulled a Powell and distanced herself from the Bush administration upon leaving it, but I for one would have granted Condoleezza Rice membership to the Bitch club in a heartbeat. 

Want more from Bitch? Good news! Our quarterly magazine, Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, is packed with 80+ pages of feminist analysis, reviews, illustrations, and more. Subscribe today

Subscribe to Bitch


Comments

21 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Wow. Just...wow. What

Wow. Just...wow. What century is this guy from again? Unbelievable.

Not wishing to defend Morgan,

Not wishing to defend Morgan, but when he interviewed prime minister Gordon Brown he asked how many lovers he'd had at university and whether he and his then-fiancee had joined the mile high club.

yuck!

ack! thank you for further evidence of douchebaggery, carrie47. i found the marriage/relationship questions massively insulting (like the marriage/relationship questions he asked brown), but the absolute worst ones, in my mind, were the "how would i woo you?" and "what would you cook me for dinner?" set. those are questions i have never heard an anchor ask a male political figure. also worth noting that the spin on these stories are focusing on the marriage questions. even those critical of morgan aren't really pushing the sexist angle in terms of "wait, WHY does he think he's allowed to ask how to woo her? WHERE is his respect for her in this line of questioning?"

WHA...?

Well that was an infuriating clusterfuck. Forgive me but who is this guy? He got this job after being a dancing talent show judge why? This is how it works in our world?? I'd call this an example of failing up, but I don't suppose Morgan thinks he's failed (and I don't suppose, at least status-wise, I think so either).

Can a woman not just say "THIS IS NOT FOR ME"?!? Can we not just stop pandering to questions about marriage and kids by saying "I will not talk about this anymore"?? She said she wouldn't go there, and then she just went along the path of idiocy anyway. (I know, I'm victim blaming, but I do suspect she's heard this a few times before. Unless she's cool with it [??] I'd have hoped she'd have put some comebacks in her back pocket by now.) Can't we nudge the conversation in another direction, like asking the other person equally obnoxiously intrusive questions or just answering a question not asked?? "So Piers, small dick?" But since you're right -- she'd be called a bitch -- how about, "Actually, thanks for asking Piers, I love to travel, and I plan to visit Malta next year." I can't believe he didn't ask her about her lifelong regrets about not having children. Because you know, that's just as bad as being a spinster with no interesting work or hobbies. Oh wait.

GAHH!!!!!!!

I didn't watch this

I didn't watch this interview, but I thought I'd reply on a factual clarification. The only television show which Piers Morgan has been on in the USA is a talent show (but I'm not sure which one), but in the UK, he used to edit several tabloid newspapers called the News of the World and The Sun (which are disgusting, misogynistic, racist, homophobic and xenophobic publications which barely qualify as news). He then co-hosted a current affairs interview show on a main UK TV channel (C4) before moving on to judging TV talent shows. The last thing he did before moving to US TV was host a show called "Life Stories" where he interviewed celebrities about their lives. That's probably why he was chosen to replace Larry King, rather than for his talent show judging ability.

He's still a massive douche bag though - he interviewed the prime minister on the Life Stories show and asked him how many people he'd slept with, and shows a general disrespect for human decency which I find really distasteful.

I hope this doesn't come across as being weird and snarky - I hate him, but I also realise there's a culture barrier to knowing why he's popular if you don't know about British telly - which I do because I live here. :-)

Thank you! Not snarky!

Not snarky at all, Bella. I should know better; I live in Europe but I also don't have a TV, so I suppose I can sort of claim intentional ignorance. I had no idea Morgan edited the tabloids, but it does explain a lot. Thanks for the clarification! I wish reporters would give some background like this in the mainstream news more often because then we'd have fewer people wondering how these transplants skyrocket to stateside fame. For instance, all the handwringing about Ricky Gervais' Oscar remarks could also use some overseas context, eh? :)

Piers Morgan's questions were

Piers Morgan's questions were downright sexist, no doubt about it, and he has deserved a Decree for some time. However, he's not just like this to women - he's this patronizing and insulting when interviewing anyone. He asked the then-Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and several other important public figures questions just like this when he had his British TV show, 'Piers Morgan's Life Stories', and never once asked any of the 'hard-hitting, journalistic questions' he'd promised in promos.

This man has made a career not just out of reducing people to tears, but out of debasing and trivializing important and respectable people who are far more interesting and influential than he is. The guy's had this coming for a while: I don't know anyone here in the UK who isn't glad he moved to the US, and away from us.

Not watching this one

THANK YOU for making me feel good about not watching this show ... ever. Nothing insults me more than being asked why I am single/childless at my approaching middle-age, only for my answers to be responded to with such shameful remarks as, "You shouldn't live your 'golden years' alone ..." "Who will care for you when you can no longer walk? ..." "Your parents deserve to be grandparents (They are content not being grandparents) ..." "A healthy, normal person feels life overflowing by giving another life onto the world ..." and all kinds of other ignorant B.S.

My deeply heartfelt, personal, and conscious choices of living without "significant others" and not having children should not be constant subject to judgment, shaming, and ridicule in a civil society. Unfortunately, in this over-judgmental reactionary culture, these remarks are ingrained in the fearful by the religious-right, family values conspirators backed by a corporate culture that advocates nothing short of treating human beings as machines feeding profit margins.

Women politicans

I completely agree with Anonymous' comment regarding gendered expectations that women who choose to remain single and child-free are somehow defective. I have chosen to be child-free and career oriented. Society still views the lives of women with children as being more valuable than those who are child-free. For instance, there are more domestic violence shelters for women with children than for child-free women who are being abused. Child-free women are more likely to have to access a co-ed homeless shelter which offers less specialized services, public has knowledge of the address, and not appropriate for someone who had recently been traumatized.

I am very happy with my choices as I approach my 40's and I contribute to society in other ways than through my reproductive abilities. It is rather unfortunate that Ms. Rice did not chose to challenge the sexist questions being directed towards her. I'm more impressed by Senator Hilary Clinton who can usually come up with a smart remark when someone asks her who is her favorite designer etc.

Definitely!

I agree with you, too, on this. I find it annoying how parents and family advocates frequently complain about how many areas of our society are not "family-friendly" and keep on begging for more "family-friendly" policies and access to "family-friendly" resources. I beg to differ because I was once discriminated against because I don't have a family of my own other than parents and siblings. Families have it better because so much of this judgmental society accepts them better, thanks in part, to the constant stream of corporate-controlled media telling them how much they matter in it (via advertising, political pundits, scripted and unscripted TV shows, mainstream magazine articles, etc.), and of course religious advocates, dating "experts," (most of them are not and I literally burned that "Marry Him" book that came out last year!) and others who believe that heteronormative, male/female legally-married parenthood is the most important life purpose. To me (and you, and many others), it is not.

Don't anyone get me wrong ... I do care about families with and without children. It's just that I would like to see more acceptance and respect of everyone, regardless of the lifestyles they live. I also strongly believe that children should grow up learning that not all people get married and/or have children (So that they do not suffer from mental issues, and worse, when they experience their first break-up or fear loneliness ...)

Here is someone I can recommend on the issue of singles and how they are stereotyped, discriminated against, etc. Bella DePaulo, author of the essential book "Singled Out." Her website is belladepaulo.com She also blogs at Psychology Today (not my favorite magazine, but that's where she is). She continuously researches the topic of singles, so anything on it that you feel she is missing she may pick up on eventually (Let her know there!).

re: Definitely!

Update: Bella DePaulo also blogs at her website.

Umm..

Have you considered the idea that she agreed to and wanted this line of questioning to help her appeal to male voters for a possible senate election or something to that effect? I know, as a guy, that I see her in a bit warmer sense as a result of the interview. Up 'till now, I saw her as competent in her duties but somewhat cold. This is completely fine because competency is all that mattered in her official capacities thus far.

Hmm...

Anonymous,

Why is that you now see Condoleeza Rice as "warmer" than you did previously? Is it because she was finally painted with a nonthreatening brush that rendered her a gender stereotype? While I think I understand what you're saying (it amounts to something like "hey, lighten up already!") I doubt that Rice asked for this line of questioning. Even if she did, I for one would still find it problematic. Why should that be what it takes to appeal to male voters? Why can't her experience, knowledge, and personality be enough to make her an appealing candidate without having to throw in a fried chicken recipe and some marriage tips?

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

I see her as warmer based

I see her as warmer based solely on the fact that she went along with it, showing she has a sense of humor. I thought it was funny simply because the questions were so off-the-wall for one of the most powerful women in the country to answer. I do personally feel that she knew ahead of time what line of questioning would take place, and I know she is intelligent enough to have a reason for taking part in it.

It's a sad but true fact that when it comes to being elected by the general populace, one has to build a positive public image rather than simply rely on his/her ability. I could very well be wrong, but why else would a strong and proud woman like Condoleeza Rice allow such an interview to proceed after the "Marriage trap" question?

Piers minus 50, Condi minus 15

I agree with you, Anon, that the questions were outrageous. I don't think questions like that, asked in that way, should EVER pass for journalism. The fact that Rice is smart and powerful makes it even more insulting, but Morgan's language would have landed him a Decree in my Book O' Douchebaggery no matter who he was talking to. As someone pointed out earlier in this thread, talking about food, for example, is great! But the way Morgan asked it was condescending at best, and blatantly sexist at worst. He could have just asked, "What do you like to cook?" And she would have appeared just as human and warm for answering, without being complacent in his "Let's just say I'm going to come over and you are going to work in the kitchen to impress me..." scenario.

I think that Rice went along with the questions posed to her because she understands, as do you, the power that sexual politics have in...uh...politics. (Also life in general, but in politics it's all over our tvs and newspapers in a way quotidian sexism is not.) I actually would imagine she didn't see these questions beforehand, but of course have no way of knowing. If she had, I don't think she would have given the "I won't go there" answer, she would have vetoed the question before doing the interview. The frustrating issue for me is exactly what you're pointing out: It is NOT acceptable to ask questions like that, so Piers gets the official Decree, but Condi also allowed the questions and spent mental energy replying to them graciously when she could have shut them down, so she loses points in my book as well.

It's a trap: once the

It's a trap: once the questions are out there, she has to answer them gracefully to preserve a pleasant persona. To challenge the questions would appear defensive and - like you said - b*tchy, so it's a no-win situation. I think he would have liked nothing more than to have gotten under her skin - so I applaud her for at least withholding the ego boost it would have given him to know he ruffled her feathers.

Women in power are threatening to insecure men. Of COURSE he wanted to get some jabs in.

Not exactly. Piers Morgan

Not exactly. Piers Morgan asked almost the identical questions to Barbara Walters and she told him it was none of his business. And she did it gracefully.

Piers Morgan CNN Idiot

Piers Morgan Boo Hoo!
CNN has made a terrible mistake in hiring Piers Morgan. This guy is very shallow and obsessed with sexual fantasies; asking stupid questions about people's sex lives. Christine O'Donnel was quite right to put him down and walk out of the show; there are others who have done likewise. Piers Morgan is a waste of TV viewing time! The guy is not up to the task of a sensible interviewer!
Cephas Keith Reyes, PhD.

This is why CNN has almost no

This is why CNN has almost no ratings, GET THIS MORON OFF THE AIR

What a Tool

Piers is a tool! Grrrrrr. I would like to kick him in his ovaries!

i didnt even know who piers

i didnt even know who piers morgan was but watched for the first time about 10 seconds of him with alex jones in which alex jones barely let piers morgan get a word in edgewise, and i still thought the guy (piers morgan) was a douchebag. an even bigger douche than alex jones. how do you get someone fired from american TV based on douchebaggery? never gona happen :(