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Trump/Morgan – the dumbed down interview for these dumbed down times

Love Island, The Only Way is Essex, the X Factor, Big Brother.

Piers Morgan's interview with American President Donald Trump fits seamlessly into this picture of insubstantial, gruel-like televisual viewing, which the masses have proved to have an insatiable appetite for in this current age. It satisfies but still leaves you empty. Exposed to too much, the viewer will become vegetative, start to drool...

The Romans brought in amphitheatres, the gladiatorial ring, in order to keep the people down through entertainment. Whilst huge swathes of the population were baying for blood in the auditorium, their attention was taken away from the important events taking place in the outside world. The result was they were too powerless, sedated on blood-lust, to take action and revolt against a system, which had been thrust upon them whilst their backs were turned.

The huge upsurge in reality TV over the past decade is our own gladiatorial ring, A pact between the mighty and powerful of entertainment and politics has ensured out eyes are glued to a mind-numbing screen, our brains fuelled only by the shenanigans and injustices of those of such little importance, whilst the people on the outside can do as they wish.

We watch the lunacy of Brexit unfold before us, the slow and painful disembowelment of the NHS, the crushing of the poor and needy with benefit cuts but we no longer know how to act. We are too used to the two-dimensional figures on the screen taking part in the action for us – all we can do is dial voting hot lines and upload vacant-eyed selfies onto social media #dull, dull, dull.

Morgan's interview with Trump on Sunday night television firmly took place in the reality TV arena. Masquerading as a hard-hitting political interview, it was really just a soft-soak, a bid to prove the country was engaged in politics, when really what we were presented with was more showbiz than journalism.

Of course Morgan will argue against this. But that is part of the game. The interview was billed as the next Frost/Nixon – Morgan all keyed up to grill the monster of the free world about the issues that matter to the British people.

This was something of a coup for Morgan as the first international journalist to interview Trump since he became President last year. But this wasn't real either. Buddies since Morgan appeared on Trump's American version of The Apprentice ten years ago, this was the most likely, if only interview, Trump would agree to for a UK audience. His best mate, he knew, would let him off lightly. And let him off lightly, Morgan did.

Looking like two, slightly sagging, narcissistic bookends, the interview filmed at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, saw Morgan question Trump on his hair, his tweeting habits, his views on feminism and Brexit, faux forcing him to apologise for those Britain First tweets without ever doing anything but skim the surface of an issue.

Viewing figures were low for the interview, with more people tuning into the ten o'clock news than to ITV, the channel on which the interview was aired. My great hope is that people weren't conned into thinking this was the real deal, that what they were witnessing was Trump being called to account, because I can tell you it was quite categorically anything but – despite what Morgan may continue to protest.

But my biggest fear is that viewing figures for the interview were down because we have lost the ability to get people to engage with politics at even this most basic level. There's many a political monster out there that needs dealing with, but I fear most of the world is sleep-walking.


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