In Review

Can Donald Trump and Nigel Farage save GB News?

'World exclusive' interview with former US president raises profile of struggling channel

Donald Trump hinted he might run again for the US presidency, criticised Meghan Markle and professed his love for the Queen in a “freewheeling” interview with Nigel Farage for GB News. 

The former president was at his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, South Florida, where he was joined by one-time Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, now a broadcaster for the beleaguered news station, in what was billed as a “world exclusive”.

It was an interview that “broke little new ground”, said The Guardian, “beginning with the twice-impeached, one-term Republican president repeating the lie that the 2020 presidential election” was stolen from him. This was followed by further “gripes and complaints about his successor” Joe Biden, while he also “took aim” at UK targets including Boris Johnson and Meghan Markle, “whom he believes exploited her position in the royal family”.

“I’m not a fan of hers. I wasn’t from day one. I think Harry has been used horribly and I think some day he will regret it, he probably does already,” Trump told Farage. “I think it’s ruined his relationship with his family, and it hurts the Queen.”

The former president also criticised Johnson’s plans for the UK to become a leader in harnessing offshore wind energy, which he branded “a big mistake”.

“But I like him, I always got on with him [although] he’s gone a little on the liberal side,” he added. 

Farage touched on the Capitol Hill attack, in which thousands of Trump supporters stormed the government building, but it was largely dismissed by the man himself, who claimed that “the insurrection took place on November 3 [election day]”.

A ‘box office’ night for GB News

The UK’s newest TV channel has got off to something of a “volatile start punctuated by technical gaffes and the noisy exit of its chairman and lead presenter Andrew Neil”, said The Telegraph

But despite some “positive signals” – some flagship shows have begun to beat Sky News in certain time slots – GB News has yet to attract a significant audience, infamously “nursing zero viewers for some programmes shortly after launch”, said the paper. This begs the question: “can Trump’s blockbuster billing help GB News capitalise on its green shoots of growth?” 

“Nigel’s certainly earning his fee”, said political blog Guido Fawkes, which thought the interview had been “box office” for the news channel. It reported seeing figures that show the interview pulled in “the largest GB News viewership since its original opening night”.

“For two whole hours between 7pm to 9pm, GB News beat the BBC’s average by 155,600 viewers to their 118,200, with Sky News some distance behind on 60,500. The interview reached 208,500 just after 7pm and held steady for the next hour,” reported the Westminister gossip site.

Lloyd Evans in The Spectator added that Farage had “delivered the shortest hour-long interview in TV history”.

GB News may have cleared 60 minutes of its schedule for Trump’s “bombshell” appearance, but “viewers soon realised that Farage had spent relatively little facetime with the former president” in an interview that was “bulked out… with snatches of personal analysis and Zoom calls with American pundits”.

For Whitehall correspondent Mikey Smith in The Mirror, the interview amounted to “two elderly guys whining at each other for an hour” as Farage occasionally “tossed his softball questions in return for a few scraps of news”.

“Perhaps Farage’s greatest triumph,” Smith concluded, “was to stretch what appeared to be a 15-minute sit-down interview into a full hour on the broadcast schedule.”

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