CNN presenter Brianna Keilar tore into Piers Morgan after he said gymnast Simone Biles had “let down team-mates, fans and country” by withdrawing from the Olympics to focus on her mental health.
Speaking on CNN’s New Day show, Keilar scrutinised Morgan’s own athletic competence over the screen caption: “White male talking heads question courage of Simone Biles.”
Keilar said: “On Twitter, Piers Morgan, whose only athletic claim to fame is that he ran off the set of his former TV show simply because another host questioned his criticism of Meghan Markle, complained, ‘Are ‘mental health issues’ now the go-to excuse for any poor performance in elite sport? What a joke. Just admit you did badly, made mistakes, and will strive to do better next time. Kids need strong role models not this nonsense.’
“Yeah, maybe a role model like a 24-year-old who slays competition after competition and mentors the younger members of her team, who between the last Olympics and this one, came out as one of the more than 150 athletes who said publicly that they were sexually assaulted by former team doctor Larry Nassar, right under the nose of USA gymnastics.”
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Keilar added that those criticizing Biles aren’t just criticizing her, but are also “sending a message to people who are struggling, that if they are really tough, they won’t prioritize their mental health.”
Following Keilar’s comments, Morgan tweeted her directly, saying: “Hi Brianna, a) You have no clue about my athletic accomplishments. b) I also ran back, realising that quitting is cowardly. c) I know you love virtue-signalling, but ask your Green Beret husband what he thinks of people who quit on their teammates in the heat of battle.”
Keilar’s husband, Fernando Lujan, served in the US army and was the director of the National Security Council at the White House.
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Twitter users were quick to share their opinions on the heated exchange with one saying: “Does no one realise he just says this stuff to stay relevant. He is basically Katie Hopkins and Nigel Farage. Ps, can’t imagine he ever came close to an Olympian.”
One man replied: “If the premise is we can’t comment without ourselves being an athlete might as well shut down twitter.”
Another woman added: “Meghan Markle, Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles, what do they have in common? Their skin colour.”