New Recording of Piers Morgan Alleges to Show Hacking ‘Smoking Gun.’ The Reality? Not Quite

By Alex Weprin 

An interview of CNN anchor Piers Morgan from 2009 has been making the rounds, alleging to prove that Morgan knew about hacking at his newspaper, The Daily Mirror. But as Jeff Bercovici (who first reported the existence of the interview) notes, the “smoking gun” is “not so smoky.”

Update: a statement from Morgan is after the jump.

What did Morgan say?

To be honest, let’s put that in perspective as well. Not a lot of that went on. A lot of it was done by third parties rather than the staff themselves. That’s not to defend it, because obviously you were running the results of their work. I’m quite happy to be parked in the corner of tabloid beast and to have to sit here defending all these things I used to get up to, and I make no pretence about the stuff we used to do. I simply say the net of people doing it was very wide, and certainly encompassed the high and the low end of the supposed newspaper market.

In other words, Morgan was essentially reiterating what he had said in his autobiography and elsewhere: seedy practices (including hacking) were widespread in the U.K. tabloid world at the time. He seemingly acknowledged that the Mirror was no saint, but that is par for the course at most major world tabloids.

Morgan’s statement on the interview:

Millions of people heard these comments when I first made them in 2009 on one of the BBC’s longest -running radio shows, and none deduced that I was admitting to, or condoning illegal reporting activity. Kirsty asked me a fairly lengthy question about how I felt dealing with people operating at the sharp end of investigative journalism. My answer was not specific to any of the numerous examples she gave, but a general observation about tabloid newspaper reporters and private investigators. As I have said before, I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, nor to my knowledge published any story obtained from the hacking of a phone.