Piers Morgan’s interview with US President Donald Trump on ITV on Sunday evening was seen by 3m viewers, but failed to beat BBC News.
The first international TV broadcast interview with the president, which aired from 10-10.45pm, took a 20 per cent audience share and put ITV up 1m viewers (48 per cent) on the 2017 average for that time slot.
BBC News at Ten on BBC One reached 3.9m viewers, with a 25 per cent audience share, while the Mash Report on BBC 2 was watched by 0.6m viewers (4 per cent audience share).
8 Out of 110 Cats Does Countdown on Channel 4 was seen by 0.8m viewers (6 per cent audience share) and The Boy Next Door on Channel 5 scored 0.5m viewers (4 per cent audience share).
In a poll for the Radio Times, 88 per cent of viewers said Morgan had not been tough enough on Trump in the interview, which was filmed while the president attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week.
The wide-ranging interview covered topics including immigration, climate change and Brexit.
The Independent called the interview “toe curlingly fawning” while some viewers took to Twitter to accuse Morgan of failing to challenge Trump on key points.
BBC World Affairs editor John Simpson said on Twitter: “The art of the political interview, Piers, is to push your interviewee hard – not let them spout self-evident tosh. That’s just showbiz.”
But Daily Telegraph leader writer Tim Stanley tweeted: “Anyone expecting Frost/Nixon: the problem isn’t just that Morgan isn’t Frost, it’s that Trump ain’t Nixon. That soft-soap interview is an indictment of modern politics as well as a lot of TV journalism, and the two operate at each other’s level.”
After the interview had aired, Morgan tweeted: “Incredible response to
#TrumpMorgan… love him or hate him – and there’s no middle ground! – nobody in the world draws a bigger, more visceral reaction than Donald Trump.”
In response to criticism, he said on Twitter: “To those sneering that
#TrumpMorgan ‘wasn’t as good’ as #FrostNixon… a) I agree. b) Frost paid Nixon, then unemployed, $600k for the interview & talked to him for 28hrs. I paid Trump, who’s still in office, nothing & spoke to him for 28 minutes. 3) We both got an apology!”