Jennifer White, the 27-year-old spokesperson for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) was invited on to Good Morning Britain to discuss the organisation’s view that referring to animals as pets is derogatory.
The interview became a heated debate when Piers challenged PETA’s stance that the way people talk about animals “directly affects” how we think about and treat them.
Some social media users criticised his approach to the GMB segment and accused him of constantly interrupting his guest.
Jennifer, however, seemed undeterred and tweeted that she’d be “happy to come back on to pick-up where we left off”.
Always happy to come back on to pick-up where we left off 😊! https://t.co/olii5vU17L
— Jennifer White (@JenniferWhite21) February 4, 2020
The animal rights activist told Yahoo Celebrity UK: “It’s a huge privilege to be able to speak up for animals and reach millions of viewers and listeners with PETA's message.
“Fighting for animals – and trying to change the status quo – isn't always easy. So I'm always prepared for a bit of resistance, particularly from Piers – that's his shtick!
“I wish, of course, I'd been given more time to highlight the plight of animals.”
Viewers praised Jennifer’s calm performance throughout the live interview.
One person tweeted: “I actually thought the PETA representative conducted herself with remarkable stoicism and decorum.”
I actually thought @JenniferWhite21, the @peta representative conducted herself with remarkable stoicism and decorum in the face of a typical @piersmorgan onslaught. I don’t remotely agree with her views but well done 👏🏻👏🏻 @GMB
— James Ryan 🏝 (@TheMiddle100) February 4, 2020
Speaking to Yahoo, Jennifer said: “I expected some opposition from Piers and did what I could to keep a level head and stick to the topic. I’m passionate about the issue, and I hope that came across.”
Piers’ interview with the activist has seemingly produced a spike in traffic to PETA’s website, with plenty of positive comments on social media.
“It's all about planting seeds in people's minds, and it's clear from the feedback I've received that this interview achieved this. I'm hopeful that the debate at least gave some viewers pause to stop and consider,” Jennifer said.
Piers took particular issue with Jennifer’s claim that certain expressions such as “bring home the bacon” and “let the cat out of the bag” are dated and disparaging.
He also argued that the acronym PETA contains ‘pet’ – a word which the organisation is trying to discourage the use of.
Live on Good Morning Britain, Piers exclaimed: “What is wrong with one-trick pony?!”
Jennifer replied: “Ponies aren’t here to do tricks for us.”
“Have you asked the pony?” Piers said.
The activist retorted: “I think you know, Piers, that ponies don’t speak English. That would be a waste of everybody’s time.”
As the presenter mocked PETA’s suggested replacements for such anti-animal language, Jennifer said: “I knew you were going to do this” before explaining “these are playful expressions which are inclusive for everyone”.
After the show, one viewer tweeted the animal rights activist: “Brave effort on GMB. Shame you were not given the chance to speak or be allowed a sensible conversation. I don’t necessarily agree but would have been interested to understand your point of view. Keep fighting!!”
@JenniferWhite21 brave effort on GMB, Shame you were not given the chance to speak or be allowed a sensible conversation. I don’t necessarily agree but would have interested to understand your point of view. Keep fighting !!
— Gareth Barnett (@gdoggbarnett) February 4, 2020
Piers Morgan claimed the interview had in fact been his favourite from the last four-and-a-half years.
Jennifer told Yahoo Celebrity UK: “I'm hopeful I'll be invited back, and maybe next time, he'll listen – I mean really listen – to what PETA has to say.
“I'd love to have the opportunity to discuss all the great work PETA is doing to get animals out of circuses and filthy fur farms, to end cruel bullfights, and to alleviate animal suffering on factory farms.
She concluded: “Animals aren’t pieces of property. We're delighted that we got animal-friendly language on the British public's radar.”