Shooting Straight: Guns, Gays, God and George Clooney by Piers Morgan
Who actually likes Piers Morgan? It’s a reasonable question when considering what to make of Shooting Straight, the fourth volume in what looks like an ongoing series of diaries he’s published following The Insider in 2005. He’s a phenomenally successful TV personality of course, but perhaps that’s not a career based on winning people’s hearts so much as providing them with acceptable wallpaper: an ignorable, mildly anaesthetic background presence in most peoples’ waking consciousness, good for falling asleep in front of.
Reading Morgan’s literary output certainly gives credence to this theory, because once you admit him to your frontal lobe it becomes impossible to imagine a world in which he doesn’t grate on you with the intensity of a 4am car alarm.
In a display of pomposity so blatant as to put himself beyond parody, Morgan devotes the opening pages of Shooting Straight to a list of his career achievements to date. The pretext for this crass display is the author’s transition from talent show judge to talk show legend Larry King’s heir apparent on American network CNN. “This is the biggest moment of my career,” he enthuses, accurately enough, but it sheds very little light on the potentially interesting question of how the whole thing came about. The potted CV, and the torturous posturing of the remainder of the book (358 pages!), seem to prod us and say “Well, isn’t it obvious?”
Written in one-sentence, tabloid-friendly paragraphs, the diaries follow our hero through his career on CNN from 2010 to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in July of this year. The book gives airtime to each of its advertised subheadings, but none gets quite as much as the first. His theoretically anti-gun stance is what has made Morgan’s name in the US, transforming him from a forgettable trash-peddler to a figure of national loathing. To us in the UK, his bafflement with US gun-lust is understandable and his responses to it ostensibly laudable, but on that page these issues only serve to provide him with an excuse (as if he needed one) to talk about himself, or better still have others do it for him: “That was brilliantly handled,” gushes producer Jonathan Wald after Morgan slams assault rifles in the wake of the Dark Knight massacre.
This unending, classless showing off means that whatever sound arguments the book might also contain sink under the weight of the author’s ego.
Shooting Straight: Guns, Gays, God and George Clooney is published by Ebury Press at the hardback price of £18.99, for further information visit here.