British talk host Piers Morgan, a longtime close friend of President Donald Trump’s, railed against the president’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Sunday, claiming Trump is “failing the American people” and turning his coronavirus press briefings into “self-serving rallies.”
Morgan, a former Celebrity Apprentice winner who has largely praised Trump throughout his presidency, appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources to discuss his recent criticism of how both Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have handled this public-health crisis. The appearance comes days after Morgan wrote a column slamming “King Trump’s” performance during the pandemic, likening the president to the “emperor with no clothes.”
Noting that Johnson and Trump’s responses have been “very similar,” Morgan went on to say that the “tricks” both leaders used to become popular and win elections are failing them now.
“It’s not about partisan politics anymore, it’s about plain war crisis leadership,” Morgan, a former CNN host himself, said. “It’s a very different thing. What I’ve noticed with Boris Johnson and with Donald Trump is an apparent inability to segue into being war leaders. They’re still playing the old games of party politics.”
Pointing out that he considers Trump a “friend,” the Daily Mail editor-at-large said that he’s watched the daily White House briefings with “mounting horror” because this isn’t what a president should be doing.
“And all that is required from the president in those moments, and any world leader, frankly, they have to be calm, show authority, they have to be honest, they have to be accurate, entirely factual with what they’re telling the people and they have to have an ability to show empathy,” he exclaimed.
“On almost every level of that, Donald Trump at the moment is failing the American people,” Morgan continued. “He’s turning these briefings into a self-aggrandizing, self-justifying, overly defensive, politically partisan—almost like a rally to him.”
Host Brian Stelter asked his former colleague if he had any personal insight into what was causing this reaction from the president, considering their close relationship.
Praising how other world leaders such as France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel have handled the crisis, Morgan suggested that Trump doesn’t understand the enormity of the situation, claiming Trump thinks of it as “just another thing to deal with.”
“Donald Trump’s ratings are falling and the reason for that is—he needs to understand this—they’re falling because people don’t trust him,” he added.
“He’s turning these briefings into self-serving rallies. I don’t understand why he can’t do the basics of crisis leadership, which is to make the public come with you, and to believe you, and to feel that you’re on their side and showing them the empathy that they need when so many people are dying.”
Asked whether he’s worried that he’s risking his friendship with Trump over his harsh criticism, Morgan said he’s “always tried to be candid” with the president but he really doesn’t care “about the niceties of whether Donald Trump is going to be offended.”
“He has to put the country before himself,” Morgan continued. “He has to put Americans before electioneering. He has to remind himself every day what can I do today to prevent more lives being killed? Not how can I score more petty points.”