Voices: Piers Morgan’s Baby Reindeer interview was as bad as you’d expect

As far as I am concerned the name ‘Piers Morgan’ is a byword for mindless sensationalism, but even for him this is a low point (Piers Morgan/X)
As far as I am concerned the name ‘Piers Morgan’ is a byword for mindless sensationalism, but even for him this is a low point (Piers Morgan/X)

The internet has made it difficult for many of us to differentiate between “news” and “gossip”. That’s always been a problem to some degree – there are entire industries dedicated to telling you what brand of underwear your favourite actress wears – but it seems to have ramped up in recent years. Everybody wants to throw their two cents in, creating TikToks and Twitter threads speculating about the intimate details of strangers’ lives – even the ones who never asked to be in the spotlight.

That’s a problem. It’s not just about lowering the public discourse – there’s real danger in exposing people to high levels of scrutiny when they aren’t prepared to deal with it. That’s why it’s more important than ever for our media to make that distinction for us, and not to get caught up in petty rumourmongering. Unfortunately for us, not all of them are able to resist the urge to get involved – and hope that maybe some of that spotlight shines on them, too.

In case you missed it, Piers Morgan sat down with Fiona Harvey, the 58-year-old lawyer on whom the stalker character of Martha in the hit Netflix series Baby Reindeer is allegedly based, to talk about the show.

Morgan was criticised heavily in the lead-up to the airing of the interview, which was pre-taped, with many accusing him of exploiting a potentially vulnerable person for views. Morgan’s position wasn’t helped by the fact that he referred to Harvey as a “psycho stalker” in a tweet promoting the interview, nor the fact that Harvey herself warned that she was unhappy with how it had played out, saying that she felt “used”.

It went about as well as you would expect.

The first words Harvey says, in reply to Morgan’s question “Why have you decided to go public?”, set the tone for the entire interview: “Internet sleuths tracked me down and hounded me, and gave me death threats, so it wasn’t really a choice. I was forced into this situation.”

Call me crazy, but I feel like if the first thing an interviewee says to you is that they don’t really want to be there, it’s time to reassess why the interview is even happening to begin with.

She had clearly prepared extensively for the types of questions that she expected to be asked, but the issue is that she shouldn’t really have been answering them. What exactly do we expect to gain here? Is this really in the public interest? Or is it just an attempt to satisfy our need for shallow gossip and drama?

I don’t know anything about Harvey, but I assume there are only two realistic possibilities: either she is somebody who has been defamed by a large social media company (as she repeatedly claims), in which case she should be allowed to settle things through more formal channels and then return to her normal life – or she is an extremely vulnerable woman.

If the latter is the case, then what exactly does Morgan hope to achieve by grilling her for an hour? By pointing out supposed inconsistencies in her story, or prying even further into the details of her personal life than the “internet sleuths” already have?

At one point, he asks her about her relationship history, to which she replies: “I told staff that relationships were out of bounds,” before proceeding to answer anyway – why doesn’t Morgan apologise and move on to another topic? Why did he even ask that in the first place?

Perhaps the worst thing about the interview, which was hosted in full on YouTube, is the comment section full of self-congratulatory discourse about Harvey’s “body language”, pointing out perceived contradictions in her story and calling her a liar.

Again, I can’t speak to the veracity of Harvey’s statements, but that’s the point, isn’t it? None of us can. And yet so many of us are apparently using this interview as an excuse to don our imaginary deerstalkers and play Sherlock Holmes. Who are these people who have decided it’s their right to get involved and attempt to “solve the mystery”? There are more fulfilling hobbies out there, surely? Why not try knitting, instead?

This isn’t the first time Morgan has interviewed people on his show who clearly aren’t equipped to deal with that sort of platform. In 2022, Morgan interviewed Kanye West in the wake of the rapper’s antisemitic remarks, at one point effusively praising West for his willingness to apologise for them. West would go on to praise Adolf Hitler in a separate interview just a few weeks later, and his erratic behaviour, which has lost him a number of high-profile partnerships, continues to this day.

In that instance, like this one, Morgan seized the opportunity to latch himself onto a flavour-of-the-month celebrity with both hands, demonstrating little by way of professional ethics or consideration for their mental health when doing so.

Harvey, regardless of any alleged behaviour she may have demonstrated in the past, has been thrown to the lions by Morgan in a vain attempt to help him pop a rating and stay relevant in a media landscape that is quickly leaving him behind.

As far as I am concerned, the name “Piers Morgan” is a byword for mindless sensationalism, but even for him, this is a low point. At best, it’s thoughtless, and at worst a complete dereliction of duty for somebody in his position.

Hopefully, Harvey manages to weather this sudden influx of publicity and is able to overcome the braying mob (let us not forget Richard Gadd is also a victim – both of stalking and of sexual assault). But if Harvey does make it through, it won’t be any thanks to Piers Morgan.