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President Trump: The Piers Morgan Interview (ITV) - Review

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 1 out of 5

IT WAS billed as something of a coup for Piers Morgan to land a world exclusive interview with US President Donald Trump, offering ITV viewers the chance to see the controversial world leader put on the spot by a similarly controversial interviewer.

Alas, what came to pass felt more like a propaganda piece that served the images of both men well – or so they would have believed.

Morgan virtually coached Trump through some of the trickier questions he had to offer, while also singing his own praises at every opportunity at managing to get so-called amazing revelations from him. In truth, the interview offered nothing revelatory. If anything, it confirmed what we already suspected or knew.

Trump, like Morgan, emerged as not so much an “America first” President; but a ‘me first’ one. Both men revelled in the ability to talk up their own achievements.

Where Trump offered deflection and unverified [and unchecked] boasts, Morgan offered friendly guidance and support.

On the issue of Trump’s infamous Britain First Tweets, Morgan claimed to have forced an apology from him – something he felt the British people would like to hear. But far from appearing apologetic, Trump appeared to back-track by insisting that he “knew nothing about these people” when re-Tweeting their messages.

That, in itself, was a shocking admission. A world leader and, arguably, one of the most powerful men in the world Re-Tweeting something from a group he knew nothing about! Where were his advisers? Where was the research? How come those questions weren’t asked?

Surely, in such a position of authority and influence, Trump should have taken it upon himself to avail himself of the facts surrounding Britain First before commenting (sorry, Tweeting) on the issue? And he has to be held accountable for failing to do so.

The so-called apology, meanwhile, came in the form of a begrudging “if” and “then I would” – hardly the rhetoric of a man prepared to make himself accountable for an error of judgement.

There was worse to come. On the issue of gun control, Trump remained a fierce advocate of The Second Amendment. Morgan, admittedly, turned up the heat a little, asking him to distinguish between terror attacks and home-grown mass shootings, referring to the fact that the Las Vegas shooter had been able to buy 50 rifles in the build up to his massacre.

Trump merely shrugged, unmoved, and argued that if he’d not been able to buy 50 guns, then he’d have bought 50 bombs from the local bomb shop. It was a staggering admission, not least for the way in which it deflected the issue. But Morgan, again, failed to follow up and really embarrass his friend.

Feminism, too, got an airing, with the US President’s views on women questioned but not really pressed. When asked to explain his views, or whether he had changed (or evolved) given the strength of the #MeToo movement, Trump conceded that women were doing well but then went on to talk about border protection and feeling safe.

At this point, a Jeremy Paxman-style interviewer may have put Trump into check and berated him for failing to answer the question, before pressing him to do so. Morgan danced around the issue and asked, directly, whether Trump considered himself a feminist, to which the Commander-in-Chief sniggered and replied that he wouldn’t go that far.

The answer which followed again owed more to self-aggrandising than really getting to the heart of the issue, while also including one of those classic Trump-style put-downs in which he ‘noted’ that this year’s women’s march was smaller than the last. True or false? Morgan didn’t challenge the assertion, nor make note of the fact that the headlines it generated went global, strengthening the feminist movement through the power of its intelligent and heartfelt rhetoric.

Again and again Morgan promised something explosive, only to deliver a damp squib or a missed opportunity. Rather than dare ask Trump about anything like Russia or Syria, he attempted to get to know the man behind The President on a more intimate level, digressing from politics to talk about his love for Britain [and Scotland in particular] as well as his mother.

But rather than seize the opportunity to really endear himself to the UK as a whole, Trump merely opted for business gain, seldom missing the opportunity to plug his golf club.

This was an interview in which the business of self-promotion seemed to come first. And given the egos of both men, it would come as no surprise to hear that both would hail it as an unqualified success.

For those more discerning viewers [or the 3 million that bothered to tune in], however, it was a gigantic waste of an opportunity for some intelligent debate. Hence, a supposedly heavyweight encounter [the potential Frost-Nixon of Sunday night TV] turned into a ‘mate’s night out’… a back-slapping chin-wag in which the pet subject of Morgan’s own Arsenal football team even found a way in.

The overall result? Egotistical self-aggrandising 2 quality journalism 0.

And was it just me, or did the lack of any adverts during the commercial breaks tell another story?