In Depth

JK Rowling vs Piers Morgan: Who's winning the online feud?

Twitter spat moves to new level as TV presenter is tricked into criticising his own tribute to the Harry Potter author

Harry Potter author JK Rowling and Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan have been involved in a long exchange of Twitter insults. But what's caused the spat and more importantly, who's winning?

Online hostilities between the two broke out after Rowling tweeted about Morgan's appearance on HBO chat show Real Time with Bill Maher, during which co-host Jim Jefferies told him to "f*** off" while discussing Donald Trump's travel ban.

"Yes, watching Piers Morgan being told to f*** off on live TV is *exactly* as satisfying as I'd always imagined," she wrote.

Morgan retaliated with: "This is why I've never read a single word of Harry Potter."

Undeterred, the author tweeted back: "Because you had a premonition that one day the author would roar with laughter at seeing you called out for your bullshit on live TV?"

Morgan went on to argue that everything he had said on the Bill Maher show was "factual", prompting Rowling to tweet: "Would you like a couple of hours to mock up some pictures of refugees carrying explosives to substantiate your position?",  a reference to the journalist being sacked as editor of the Daily Mirror in 2004, after printing fake photos alleging to show British troops torturing an Iraqi detainee.

Things continued to go downhill, with Morgan saying the author was "the worst celebrity political pundit" on the planet and Rowling accusing him of "fact-free, amoral, bigotry apologism".

In another salvo, Rowling suggested that if Morgan had read Harry Potter, he would know that the "downside of sucking up to the biggest bully in school is getting burned alive".

Morgan also used his Daily Mail column to continue the fight, saying Rowling's "sense of political and cultural self-importance is staggeringly overblown for a woman who writes about Hogwarts and Muggles".

The exchange has kept the nation gripped - and entertained - with even renowned political correspondent Robert Peston tweeting: "Best Twitter brawl ever? I mean ever."

Such is the interest in the slanging match that YouGov even commissioned a poll asking the nation who they preferred: JK Rowling or Piers Morgan? The answer was a resounding 55 per cent for Rowling, with only nine per cent of respondents siding with her opponent.

Morgan's own son, Spencer, even seemed to show his solidarity with Rowling - he tweeted a selfie revealing his Harry Potter-themed tattoo and matching necklace, along with the comment: "This is awkward."

As things stand, it appears Rowling has the upper hand after tweeting a flattering description of from an apparently anonymous admirer, who praised her "intensely" private attitude and ability to get children reading.

"Priceless #humblebrag BS," Morgan retorted. "Nobody plays the celebrity game more abusively or ruthlessly than you, Ms 'Intensely Private Billionaire'."

The praise, it turned out, had been written a couple of years earlier by Morgan himself.

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