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Is Piers Morgan simply too successful?

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The past week or so has been Piers Morgan's trial by media. The verdict was in pretty early. Morgan is definitely guilty of something, but it is that "something" that Tory MPs, bloggers and journalists have found to be elusive. As so far in all of this swirling smoke there has yet to any sign of fire, but the appetite to find it is undiminished.

What we do have is plenty of ambiguity, a degree of bitterness and some suggestion in the form of old newspaper quotes, book quotes and Radio 4 radio excerpts that appear to suggest that Morgan had knowledge of phone hacking and the possibility that one of the paper's biggest scoops, the Sven-Goran Eriksson and Urlika Jonsson affair story, might have been based on phone hacking or it might not.

However, it is all inconclusive, it is all hearsay, and lacks any substantial evidence, but in the current climate, where hacking grips the media, it simply will not go away, no matter how many times Morgan denies it.

It was this that led to a heightened frenzy last week when it was revealed on Twitter that Morgan had been suspended by CNN when in fact nothing of the sort had happened. It was simply that the media inhabiting Twitter was ready to believe it.

The tweet was a fake, but it didn't matter. No one checked it and it was quickly retweeted by Channel 4 News presenter, John Snow, and spread like wildfire across the social web. Very soon people were deleting tweets and issuing apologies having realised their error. Me included.

This led a day later for Tory MP and former chick lit writer Louise Mensch to apologise also. It was she who had fanned the initial flames with erroneous claims in parliament that Morgan had admitted knowing about obtaining stories by intercepting mobile phone messages. Her apology came after a week of refusing to do so and in the end she only came forward as it emerged that a reporter was shopping allegations that she had taken drugs in an earlier life at EMI.

With Morgan and the fake CNN suspension tweet what became apparent very quickly was that many people desperately wanted it to be true and so were ripe to be fooled. They wanted him to fall from grace, and they wanted him to lose his plum CNN presenting job, and to be generally laid low.

As people really seem to really dislike Morgan and it is at times easy to see why. Morgan has an unstoppable self confidence, which is seen by some as arrogance, and he is incredibly successful; more than that too successful as if he is a man who has made some Faustian pact; and that is definitely a crime that some think he should go down for. In all of this it might very well turn out to be his only crime.

As whatever else you say about Morgan his career as a journalist and latterly TV personality is impressive. This is a journalist who started his career writing about the thing he has become: a celebrity in his own right.

He started his career as a showbiz journalist working on the Sun's Bizarre column. From his time at Sun he had a meteoric rise: editor of the News of the World at 28 and editor of the Daily Mirror a few years later.

That would alone be an impressive for anyone, but it is all the more so for Morgan as it has been achieved on the back of what now seems like serial adversity and an ability to court trouble.

He first survived the 2000 City Slickers scandal after he was found to have bought shares being tipped in own paper. He was investigated by the then DTI and found in breach by the Press Complaints Commission. He dodged that bullet and kept his job, but the two reporters at the scandal's heart, Anil Bhoyrul and James Hipwell, didn't and that is now coming back to haunt Morgan.

Hipwell is portrayed as a very bitter man. He served two months in prison for his part in the City Slickers scandal after a long running case and a dislike for Morgan.

Five years ago Hipwell came out and claimed that his former editor had asked him to frustrate the investigation into the City Slickers affair and now he's back tossing some fuel on the hacking scandal. Hipwell claims that hacking was endemic and at the Mirror and that it was inconceivable that Morgan did not know - but clearly not impossible as so far nothing has emerged. And Hipwell only spoke after Mensch tossed Morgan's name into the mix (he had come forward and spoken to the Guardian in 2006).

Having survived one crisis as Mirror editor Morgan fell four years later when he lost his job after the paper had been found to have been publishing fake pictures of alleged Iraqi prisoner abuse by British soldiers.

That was a big fall. Morgan loved being editor of the Mirror and enjoyed the proximity to power that came with it. He met Tony Blair and Gordon dozens of times as the paper remained Labour's only staunch backer despite war disagreements.

For many that kind of fall might be a knockout, but in Morgan's case it acted as a launch pad to send his career much higher. It helps if you compare him to his contemporaries.

Think of his then former sparring partner at the Sun, David Yelland. Where Morgan struts his stuff globally for CNN, Yelland is a forgotten figure working in PR - publicly dismissed by Morgan:

"Yelland is now some obscure business PRO, last seen defending Tesco or something. Know what I mean? I couldn't bring myself to ring another editor and say "Can you help my client out, they've got a new line of runner beans."

No runner beans for Morgan, but that brawler's ability to make enemies very apparent. He wanted the limelight and he got it. From his tabloid fall he went on to be a judge on ITV1's 'Britain's Got Talent', bigger still won a similar role on America's Got Talent, alongside Baywatch star David Hasselhoff, and big name interviews for GQ.

Even away from successful format talent shows. Morgan proved to have TV pulling power of his own. There were the four million viewers who tuned in for ITV1's 'Piers Morgan on Marbella', which was part of a £2m 2008 ITV deal, or creating Gordon Brown's best 2010 election moment with his ITV1 election interview. No small achievement.

All that led to his biggest post Mirror coup: succeeding Larry King on CNN, which is a prize role in American journalism.

It is a job that he could now lose although nothing is certain and CNN looks in no mood to drop its star presenter until some real evidence emerges. As yet we do not have that.

Morgan might now receive an invitation from John Whittingdale MP to appear before the Culture select committee, but that might prove no more damaging than anything else we have seen so far. He might be questioned, but he is free to restate his denials and walk away unless evidence materialises to show that hacking went on at the Mirror and Morgan was complicit.

In all of this you are left with several strong impressions. Chief among these is that Morgan doesn't seem that worried as he merrily fires back at all comers on Twitter and that he is a media survivor who has become one of the most successful British journalists of his generation. Possibly he has become too successful for this media island, although he and the rest of us might eventually get over that.

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