I never actually thought that Nigel Farage’s much-hyped interview with Donald Trump was going to be quite as dull and predictable as it turned out to be. These are, after all, a pair of big personalities with big ideas and big gobs. Trump said once that Farage was “one of the most powerful men in Europe”, which was overdoing it, but still, Brexit and all that, I’ll give Nige credit. Nigel went to a Trump rally in 2020 and declared Donald the “most resilient and brave person” he had ever met. Again, some truth in that. It was always going to be a love-in, but I hoped there might be some sparkiness, some amusing anecdotery, a bit of wit, a little chemistry. Didn’t happen.
I didn’t expect balance. I didn’t expect insights. I didn’t expect critical questioning. I didn’t expect the truth. I didn’t expect facts. But I did expect entertainment, and I got my arse bored off instead.
If anything, Trump was a bit subdued, and Farage looked scared Trump might say something so nuts that Ofcom would snatch their broadcast licence away summarily. To make a fashionable reference, I’d have much rather spent a couple of hours at Peppa Pig World – very much my kind of place, much more interesting. It was like Crazy Frog chatting amiably but incomprehensibly to the Honey Monster. In an empty gilt ballroom like they were waiting for the cleaners to arrive, two washed-up golf club bores put the world to wrongs, so to speak. Their day has come and gone.
A more partial problem was that it looked like Trump only gave his great old chum a half hour of his valuable time, and too much of it was spent on Taiwan and mail-in voting. Trump also didn’t take the bait when Farage tried to get him to lay into Prince Charles and Boris Johnson or say something – anything – newsworthy about the channel refugee crisis.
Trump declined at every turn. He didn’t say what he thinks, if anything. No bombshells. A lot of the two-hour show had to be padded out with ex-Trump staffers tediously agreeing with Nigel Farage (and Donald Trump). A token quarter hour was given over to a former Biden aide, but Farage forced her to talk about postal voting as if it is was the death of western democracy.
It was painful to listen to all the old prejudices and myths and legends rehearsed all over again. The 2020 election was rigged (an assertion never never challenged by Farage); the “real insurrection” was on 3 November – election day. Listening to a fantasist is never that much fun.
You’d never have thought that Trump is being investigated for organising a coup d’etat on 6 January. Nor that it was Trump who signed a stupid weak peace treaty with the Taliban, with Biden’s surrender pre-ordained.
Then it was wind turbines, but we know Donald thinks they’re useless and they “kill all the birds”. Migration? He’d solved it, Biden has messed it up. Obviously. America is not respected in the world like in his day. Yeah, right. Obama and the Churchill bust. Harry and Meghan? He’s not a fan. Quelle surprise! By the way, I’m not sure Harry needs marriage guidance off twice-divorced Trump.
Farage is no journalist, and a poor interviewer, but he is a crafty sod all the same, and a smart propagandist. I’ve genuinely no idea why he’s always on about Prince Harry and Meghan, because they don’t matter that much, but he just loves to hate, and he had to get something out of Trump on it. He gave Trump a leg-up. He got the ex-president to talk about how much he loves the Queen, and in such a way that he made it sound like Her Maj was a close confidant, and actually picks the phone up every so often for a chinwag with the monster of Mar-a-Lago, sharing gossip and racing tips. The idea was to make it sound like the Queen had told him she thought Meghan was using her grandson and she was a right cow; the reality might be that she was glad to see the back of Trump and granny is still fond of Harry and sad about their exile. A simple question from Farage about whether Trump had had a conversation with Elizabeth II since the official visit would have made the context clear, and therefore it was not asked.
It was too much to expect a searing psycho-drama like Frost-Nixon, but Farage-Trump was the worst television of its kind I’ve ever seen. I inevitably wondered what Andrew Neil would have made of the opportunity. Normally on GB News, Farage interviews the likes of, say, Christopher Biggins (doing panto in Dartford), Kim Woodburn (How Clean is Your House?), and Tim Martin (Brexit pub landlord) and it’s all fine.
The worst thing that could have happened to Farage was getting an interview with Trump, because it wasn’t ever going to work. Nigel was fatally compromised. He got his “world exclusive”, and yet Trump couldn’t even be bothered to make Farage great again.
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