Piers Morgan tried to rile up guest Larissa Kennedy on his flailing TV show – it backfired spectacularly. (Screen captures via Twitter)
UK National Union of Students (NUS) president Larissa Kennedy refused to stoop down to Piers Morgan’s level as he grilled her on JK Rowling.
During Thursday’s (24 June) episode of Piers Morgan Uncensored, the firebrand broadcaster pressed the student politician on whether she would have the Harry Potter author as a university guest speaker.
The pair were discussing a Wednesday report from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) think-tank that found students overwhelmingly support the view that universities should be a safe space for all – and that people should not have the freedom to hate without consequences.
Sixty-one per cent surveyed were opposed to “unlimited” free speech, saying that universities should “ensure all students are protected from discrimination. 39 per cent said offensive speakers should be banned altogether.
Trying to prove his point that Kennedy wants “less free speech”, Morgan asked her “would you allow JK Rowling” to speak at an event.
“What kind of question is that?” Kennedy asked. “As if I have the power to stop people from coming to uni.”
Morgan persistently asked Kennedy despite her stressing that it literally is not in her job description.
“I’m not answering that, ask the next guest!”
NUS president Larissa Kennedy is hesitant to answer Piers Morgan’s questions about JK Rowling and the definition of a woman.@Larissa_Ken | @piersmorgan | @TalkTV | #piersmorganuncensored pic.twitter.com/pEHS9bxW6A
— Piers Morgan Uncensored (@PiersUncensored) June 23, 2022
“As you know, she’s been the victim of a massive, vicious and relentless campaign to silence her views on gender and sexuality,” Morgan said of Rowling, who has nearly 14 million Twitter followers.
Baffled, Kennedy could only laugh as Morgan asked the question that so many right-wing pundits and journalists have obsessed over: “What is a woman?”
“What’s that got to do with the price of bread?” Kennedy asked. “I came here to talk about freedom of speech.”
“Ask the next guest,” she said, adding: “A woman is someone who defines as a woman. Period. Done. Next guest.”
Morgan then tried to rile up Kennedy by asking if she agreed with him saying he is a “woman”.
“I said next guest because that’s not my segment. I know you’re trying to chat me and I’m not falling for it, sorry. I said next guest because I’m not falling for it, bye. You’re not getting your little audio clip from me.”
Morgan wrapped up the segment by saying it was “great” to see Kennedy.
“I wish I could say the same Piers, bye!” Kenney replied. “It’s over, thank God.”
After the live segment aired, the Piers Morgan Uncesnered Twitter account posted a clip from the programme and said Kennedy was “hesitant” to answer Morgan’s questions.
But Kennedy respectfully disagreed.
She replied: “To be clear I wasn’t ‘hesitant’ I refused to answer because the question wasn’t asked in good faith.
To be clear I wasn’t “hesitant” I refused to answer because the question wasn’t asked in good faith
The likes of Piers Morgan ask questions like this to sensationalise the lives of trans ppl & I refused to give him the soundbite he wanted bc trans rights aren’t up for debate https://t.co/JbukcFGYnn
— Larissa Kennedy (@Larissa_Ken) June 24, 2022
“The likes of Piers Morgan ask questions like this to sensationalise the lives of trans ppl and I refused to give him the soundbite he wanted bc trans rights aren’t up for debate.”
Morgan has spent much of his time on the airwaves taking aim at trans rights. He has said he “identities as a two-spirit penguin“, is “trans-slender” and referred to non-binary folk as a “contagion”.
After thousands accused Morgan of “dehumanising” trans people as the then host of Good Morning Britain, Morgan, of course, doubled down on his views.
He tweeted: “I support those who transition, just as I’ve always loudly supported gay rights. But I don’t support the ridiculous notion of 100 genders, and most sensible people agree with me.”
Since leaving ITV’s daytime talk show, Morgan switched over to News UK channel TalkTV. Views for his namesake show are next to none, with one mid-May show seeing just 10,000 tuning in, according to the Broadcasters Audience Research Board.
Universities have increasingly become a battleground for government and tabloid-fuelled “culture wars”.
The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech Bill), introduced by former education secretary Gavin Williamson, is the solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.
It hopes to curb what the government sees as the censorship of free speech – yet the extent that which this is happening is not quite what the press makes it out to be, the government’s own research has found.
But the solution to this non-existent problem is to allow speakers who have been “no-platformed” to sue universities for financial compensation.
While a so-called “free speech champion” will sit on the Department for Education’s Office for Students to monitor so-called free-speech infringements – a position less than half of students support, the HEPI survey found.