On the evening of Sunday 28th January, three million viewers tuned into ITV to watch Piers Morgan interview President Donald Trump, covering topics from Trump’s views on Brexit to his sentimental feelings towards Scotland and the rest of the UK due to his late mother. The interview attracted many headlines and a lot of social media attention, yet failed to beat the BBC News at 10 (which boasted an audience of 3.9 million). The question at hand must be whether this personal interview between two old friends – the pair met while filming the 2008 series of The Apprentice – broke through Trump’s usual inflammatory language and hot head responses, or whether it barely skimmed the surface. Crucially, Was the interview worth a watch? The Gryphon discusses the Morgan-Trump interview and whether it really gave any insight into the mind of America’s President.
Piers Morgan, an esteemed journalist of 30 years and an old friend of Trump, was chosen to deliver the long-awaited interview. Starting off casually to re-establish their friendship, Morgan began by reasoning with Trump, saying how he doesn’t mind criticism as long as it wasn’t hysterically ‘fake news’. Trump’s successes were quickly highlighted and then discussed often throughout the interview. Stating that he felt secure in his victory months before winning the election due to the larger size of the crowds which gathered to hear him speak in comparison to Hilary Clinton, Trump pointed out that America’s economy – an economy which “had to be shaken” – is now at a record stock market high. Making sure to allude to Apple’s 350 billion dollar investment to the US economy, the interview acted as a showcase for a surprisingly positive outlook on Trump’s presidency.
But Morgan’s interviewing techniques were subsequently questioned on The Andrew Marr Show, where it was suggested that he may have given Trump an easy time due to their pre-existing relationship. Morgan refuted this, arguing that Trump willingly reveals more when in a relaxed environment, and that he felt he pressed Trump on significant issues. Yet, although objectivity is the key to a good interview, it could reasonably be argued that Morgan got a very glazed over, politician-like answer for every timid question. For instance, Trump’s suggestion that he would have apologised for re-tweeting a racially charged Britain First tweet if he had known what the organisation stood for, is not the same as admitting a mistake and sincerely apologising to the British people, especially considering that the tweets were kept up for weeks after. Instead, Trump’s excuse, that the President of the United States still fails to fully understand what Britain First stands for as a fascist movement, seems strikingly similar to the hysterical ‘fake news’ he earlier claimed to detest.
This coincides with the popular question of whether or not Trump should have the public platform that he has so easily acquired. On the one hand, simply the notion of freedom of speech means that it would be principally undemocratic to campaign against him having a platform. As an elected President, it is perhaps even more important not to restrict his right to free speech. One cannot stop the ‘Leader of the Free World’ having interviews on news channels across the world. However, many feel it’s on social media platforms where Trump should not be allowed free reign, even going as far as to say he is ‘unprofessional.’ His platform on Twitter could be seen as legitimising far-right individuals and groups such as Britain First, in turn giving them a self-justified and amplified voice. Clearly his approach to using Twitter is unprofessional and hasty, as seen from the apparent lack of knowledge Trump still has of Britain First, which definitely gives weight to the arguments advocating a restriction of Trump’s access to social media.
Trump’s controversial social media presence was questioned during the interview. Preferring the term ‘social media’ over tweeting, Trump called it his “modern day form of communication”, and a way to discredit false news. His habits were also revealed, saying he would tweet whenever he could: from bed, as well as during breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sometimes, if he didn’t have time, he would dictate a tweet then leave it to his team or a lawyer. But, again, little was uncovered about why he feels it is professional and respectful for the President of the USA to tweet rash and offensive tweets, or how these 280-character snippets of hostility can be considered an effective means of public address. The emergence of these social media habits – which many of us could logically assume without his confirmation – didn’t make a particularly riveting revelation, nor interesting television.
The controversial and somewhat complex relationship Trump has with Britain was touched upon, after successfully establishing Trump’s intention to solidify a good trade deal with Britain at the front of the queue following Brexit. The issue of the state visit inevitably surfaced. Trump himself feels himself to be very popular in Britain, having a good relationship with Theresa May and approving of the Brexit deal, though he would take a harder stance himself. He even went so far as to openly criticise the EU and the poor, “unfair” deals they have with America regarding trade regulations. Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, Morgan stated that he “found Trump very relaxed and [that he] made some very forceful points about Britain.” Morgan also raised the issue that Britain had previously welcomed the likes of Vladmir Putin for state visits, suggesting that Sadiq Khan and Jeremy Corbyn’s protests lack historical awareness. On a personal level, Trump has always had an attachment to the UK due to his mother being Scottish – a fact he was keen to point out.
Overall, the interview did achieve a unique insight into Trump’s electorate campaign, as well America’s economy and the possibility of future trade deals with Britain. There was definitely a relaxed atmosphere that helped Trump open up on contentious issues such as his belief in respect for women and their progress in society while refusing to identify as a feminist. But was it worth the watch? Despite the lack of serious digging in the interview, it certainly opened up controversial topics for further discussion. Perhaps the next interview will raise more hairs than eyebrows, and leave more answers than questions.
[Image: Daily Mirror]