And so it came to pass that the interview granted to former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan by Combover Crybaby Donald Trump was splashed across the pages of the Mail on Sunday, pushed for all it was worth on the Monday morning edition of ITV breakfast offering Good Morning Britain, and finally aired as a stand-alone item on the same channel after the main evening news that day.
The hype had been unrelenting; the promotion of the meeting, and of course that of Himself Personally Now, by Morgan had been incessant. So when the ratings came in yesterday, expectations must have been high in ITV land. But the figures did not lie: an audience of just 1.2 million showed few were bothered.
Hence the spin: after Mark Jefferies of the Mirror declared “Full time ratings score in millions on Mon night: Love Island 3 Piers Morgan 1. Piers, The President and Air Force One had 1m and a 12% share at 10.45pm and #LoveIsland had a loyal 3m and 15% share at 9pm, so he was well beaten by the show he hates on all fronts”, Morgan blustered “But my show aired nearly 2hrs later, at 10.50pm, so this is an utterly meaningless comparison. If it had aired at 9pm, I'd have comfortably beaten Love Island”. Yeah, right.
Ian Hyland tried another angle. “Ratings. Looking like just over 1m for Piers Morgan's Donald Trump interview on ITV last night. Which means almost 5m of Piers's loyal Twitter followers deserted him”. What say The Great Man? “Half my followers are not in Britain. And this, as you know, was a perfectly good rating for a show airing at 10.45pm. The Trump interview also did a big number for us on @GMB in the morning - 21.5% share”.
So fewer than half the BBC audience size, then. And most of the rest of his Twitter followers are only there to take the piss. Wouldn’t anyone speak up for him? One Tweeter reassured Morgan he would have beaten BBC Newsnight. That cheered him up. “Yes. My Trump special got double @BBCNewsnight's ratings despite airing 20 minutes later”.
But we still didn’t get the crucial number, which is ITV versus BBC1, not BBC2. And when he told another of those Tweeters unhappy at his propensity to shout at interviewees as a means of willy-waving and self-promotion “Watch the BBC then”, it was a dead giveaway. Because when his Trump grovelfest was on ITV, that is what most people did.
Lorna Cooper of BBC Radio 5Live had those numbers. And they made dismal reading for Morgan and his self-promotion bandwagon. “Ratings: Piers Morgan's interview with Trump drew 1.2m for ITV. Over on BBC1, a repeat of HIGoNFY garnered 1.5m viewers”. A repeat beat him. Or, as one Tweeter pointed out, “Wow, even after 20 years, Ian Hislop owning Piers without even trying”. No wonder he was so defensive.
Worse, it was a smaller audience than for his previous Trump grovelfest. All of which means you can have the access, along with the plaudits of more easily impressed media people, but in the real world, people aren’t interested in him - or Trump.
Still, if ITV are daft enough to pay him, he should worry. Or as Trump might say, SAD!