While browsing in Barter Books, the wonderful secondhand bookshop in Alnwick that is fast becoming a national institution, I came across a volume of Piers Morgan’s diaries, covering his two years in the United States, judging America’s Got Talent and taking part in Celebrity Apprentice (the Alan Sugar role being played by one Donald Trump). I cannot claim to have been all that keen on Morgan ever since I discovered that in the mid-1990s, when he was an agent of Murdoch, he penned a note to Tony Blair demanding that he silence ‘idiots like Mullin shouting their mouths off about “loathsome tabloids” and my owner’. As you might expect, the Morgan diaries are brash, vulgar and celebrity-obsessed, but (it pains me to admit this) they are also bizarrely addictive. Morgan is amusing, self-deprecating and sound on issues that most civilised people care about — gun control, affordable healthcare and race.
One of the highlights is an interview, in August 2008, with a surprisingly lucid Donald Trump. This is Trump on George W. Bush: ‘I think he’s set back this country 50 years. We were a great country before he became president. A respected country. Whether you like Clinton or you don’t like Clinton, we had no deficit for the first time in many years, and were doing well economically. And then Bush came in and wrecked it.’ And this is Trump on Bush and Iraq: ‘He invaded a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, absolutely zero. He purposely lied and lied badly and his lies got us into a war.’
Could it be that under that ludicrous exterior there lurks an intelligent human being? Or as the American writer and humorist Andy Borowitz put it recently, ‘Say what you will about Trump.