Sharon Osbourne launched a passionate defense of fellow British talk show host Piers Morgan on Wednesday, asking her co-hosts on The Talk to give examples of when he was racist.
Morgan, a former presenter on CNN and Daily Mail editor at large, was strongly critical of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to speak to Oprah Winfrey, in an interview that aired on Sunday night in the U.S. and on Monday in the U.K.
He accused Meghan and Harry of damaging the royal family and seeking publicity on their own terms – without accepting the responsibility and scrutiny that come with their position.
His criticism sparked a firestorm, and he departed from Good Morning Britain on Tuesday, following a furious row with his co-host Alex Beresford, which saw him storm off the set,
Osbourne told Sheryl Underwood, her co-host, who was on the verge of tears, that she felt he was just expressing an opinion.
‘I know he has a right to say what he feels on the interview, as we have a right to say and everybody has a right to say what they feel with freedom of speech,’ Osbourne said.
Osbourne on Wednesday asked her co-host on The Talk to explain her issue with Morgan
Underwood told Osbourne, who has known Morgan for many decades, why she was upset
Osbourne dabbed her eyes in the middle of the heated discussion with her co-hosts
Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan with Patti LaBelle at the 2011 America’s Got Talent finale
‘Did I like everything he said? Did I agree with what he said? No, because it’s his opinion. It’s not my opinion.
‘But why is it that because I supported a long-time friend and work colleague of mine for years that everybody goes, if you support him, then you must be racist because he’s racist?’
With Underwood looking upset, Osbourne continued: ‘This is the situation.
‘You tell me where you have heard him say, educate me, tell me when you have heard him [Morgan] say racist things.
‘Educate me. Tell me.’
Underwood said that the issue was not with Morgan’s words as much as his tone.
‘It is not the exact words of racism,’ said Underwood.
‘It is the implication and the reaction to it.
‘To not want to address that, because she is a black woman, and to try and dismiss it or to make it seem less than it is. That’s what makes it racist.
‘Right now I am talking to a woman I believe is my friend.
‘I don’t want anybody here to watch this and think we are attacking you for being racist.’
Osbourne replied: ‘I think it’s too late. That seed is already sown.’
Her other co-host, Elaine Welteroth, added that it was a moment to ‘stand up for anti-racism.’
Welteroth added: ‘When we give passes or give space to people who are saying damaging, harmful things, what we’re kind of doing is permissing it,’ she explained. ‘And I think that’s what people are reacting to.’
Elaine Welteroth weighed in, trying to get Osbourne to see her issues with Morgan’s comments
Welteroth said that it was a moment to ‘stand up for anti-racism’
Osbourne had weighed in soon after Morgan quit his show on Tuesday, tweeting: ‘@piersmorgan I am with you. I stand by you. People forget that you’re paid for your opinion and that you’re just speaking your truth.’
Morgan thanked her for her support, describing her as a ‘true friend’.
The pair have known each other for decades.
When Morgan launched Piers Morgan’s Life Stories on British television in 2009, Osbourne was his first guest.
Morgan told reporters outside his West London home on Wednesday: ‘If I have to fall on my sword for expressing an honestly held opinion about Meghan Markle and that diatribe of bilge that she came out with in that interview, so be it.’
Morgan spoke to reporters outside his home in central London on Wednesday
Leading figures in American media have also shown their support for Morgan.
CNN anchor Jake Tapper and former Fox News host Megyn Kelly said he had been treated unfairly.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson and political and media commentator Ben Shapiro also weighed in with support for Morgan.
Morgan dubbed Meghan ‘Princess Pinocchio’ in a tweet and said on Monday that he did not ‘believe a word she said’ in her and Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Morgan, the host of Good Morning Britain, has been fiercely critical of the Sussexes for years
Morgan left the set of Good Morning Britain following his heated argument with Beresford
He is understood to have been ordered to apologize but he refused and quit, saying he had the right to tell viewers his ‘honestly held opinions’ and declaring: ‘Freedom of speech is a hill I’m happy to die on’.
Standing firm, Morgan told reporters outside his West London home: ‘If I have to fall on my sword for expressing an honestly held opinion about Meghan Markle and that diatribe of bilge that she came out with in that interview, so be it.’
His views, and his refusal to back down in the row, had sparked more than 41,000 complaints made to Ofcom, fueled by an orchestrated social media campaign spearheaded by his critics including several Labour MPs.
Following news of his departure, Tapper described the Ofcom investigation as ‘insanity’.
‘This is what happens when you live in a country where there is no First amendment. Insanity,’ he said, linking to a Variety article entitled: ‘U.K. media regulator Ofcom launched an investigation after more than 41,000 people complained about Piers Morgan’s comments on Meghan Markle.’
When Tapper was attacked by Morgan’s critics, he concluded: ‘OK, British friends. We disagree.’
Megyn Kelly also sprung to Morgan’s defense, tweeting: ‘I don’t know what happened w/ @piersmorgan at GMB.
‘What I do know is he & Susannah have been a brilliant team that took risks & became must-watch TV.
‘In an era of free speech being stifled everywhere, Piers fearlessly speaks his mind. We need more, not fewer like that in media.’
Ben Shapiro also took a swipe at Morgan’s departure, tweeting: ‘Real victims are actresses who become princesses, whine to Oprah about their difficult life as royalty from a $14.5M estate, issue complaints to broadcasters about those who criticize them, and get those people fired.’
Tucker Carlson also addressed the controversy during his Fox News show on Tuesday night when he said it was absurd no one was allowed to make fun of Meghan’s claim that she was silenced.
In response to Markle saying she was silenced, Carlson told viewers: ‘A rational person might consider this claim absurd, but amazingly no one else seems to think it is. Oprah clearly doesn’t think it’s absurd.
‘You’re not allowed to make fun of this.
‘Our friend Piers Morgan did that on television in the UK and had to resign from his job.’
Jake Tapper, CNN anchor, said the Ofcom investigation into Morgan was ‘insanity’
Kelly appeared on Morgan’s show with Susanna Reid to discuss the Oprah Winfrey interview
Morgan, a prolific tweeter who has 7.7 million followers on the platform, posted a ticking clock shortly before ITV’s statement confirming his departure. It was retweeted by Kelly.
Carolyn McCall, the chief executive of ITV, had said earlier that she believed Meghan ‘completely’.
In the two-hour Oprah interview, Meghan spoke of feeling suicidal and turning to the Palace for help but being rebuffed.
She told Winfrey that she felt incredibly lonely and isolated, and had insufficient support from the royal family.
Prince Harry said that racism had played a large part in forcing them from the U.K. and said he and his father stopped speaking for some time. Asked about his relationship with his brother, Harry said it was ‘space’.
Meghan had accused the royal family of pushing her to the brink of suicide and said someone in the royal household had raised questions about the color of her son’s skin – allegations that have prompted questions about the future of the monarchy.
Morgan did qualify his original comments on Tuesday, saying: ‘I still have serious concerns about the veracity of a lot of what she (Meghan) said, but let me just state for the record about my position on mental illness and on suicide.
Morgan and his co-host, Susanna Reid, have helmed the show for the past six years
‘They should be taken extremely seriously and if someone is feeling that way they should get the treatment and help that they need every time, and if they belong to an institution like the royal family and they go and seek that help they should absolutely be given it.’
Morgan joined ITV six years ago, bringing no-holds-barred interrogation to British breakfast television.
Government ministers, celebrities and members of the royal family have all felt the lash of his tongue.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has pressed the government repeatedly to explain why Britain has one of the highest death rates in the world. Ministers boycotted the show for months.
Such is his influence that many newspapers write daily stories on his Tweets and comments.
Morgan made his name in the cut-throat world of the British popular press, becoming the youngest editor of a title at 28 when Rupert Murdoch appointed him at the News of the World. He later ran the Daily Mirror.
Morgan later moved into television, appearing as a judge on the reality shows America’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got Talent, and spent three years hosting a poorly received chat show on CNN, replacing Larry King.