What happened when the Guardian editor met Piers Morgan

As the Editor of 'The Guardian', Alan Rusbridger presides over an institution that prides itself on occupying the ethical high ground. But how would he stand up to scrutiny when 'GQ' magazine sent Piers Morgan along to grill him?

I've always thought that editing The Guardian must be a right old moral maze. Journalists at the paper love to see themselves as ethically, morally and intellectually superior to tabloid hacks. Yet there's nothing that those liberal sandal-wearers like more than to lift all the juicy details of a sex scandal broken in the "gutter press" - while pretending to be outraged at the same time, obviously.

And Guardian hacks would think nothing of exposing some errant politician's personal peccadilloes - and then going home and doing exactly the same thing themselves. The paper's editor, Alan Rusbridger, is the prime exponent of this art form. He spent a decade filling his boots with salacious material from papers I edited while pronouncing regularly about how disgusting it all was.

He also unleashed his reporting hounds to harass me from time to time, while insisting that he was not a public figure and therefore should be spared the investigative rod of scrutiny himself at all times. And yet we became good friends, dining occasionally at champagne-socialist bastions such as the Ivy, where he would crack open the Montrachet and lobster, and bemoan the excess of modern public life.

Despite his perpetual rank hypocrisy, I am very fond of Rusbridger and his paper. The Guardian plays an important role in our society, and acts as an effective foil to right-wing papers such as the Daily Mail.

But I've yearned to sit down one day with him and confront him about his contradictory demons. I finally got the chance when I was invited to the great man's office in Farringdon Road, London, ostensibly to discuss his new children's book, The Smelliest Day at the Zoo.

Unfortunately, we never got around to that in the one-and-a-half hours that we locked horns. What we did discuss was sex, drugs, scandal and morality; which, I hope you will agree, is a damned sight more interesting.

It was a lively, edgy, confrontational and deliciously enjoyable encounter. And I was right. Editing The Guardian is indeed a right old moral maze.

Found on medialens a transcript of the interview is also available there and is worth reading...

Published: 02 April 2007 Independent

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