KARACHI: Piers Morgan, the Daily Mail columnist, has ended his 15-year friendship with Donald Trump with a "brutal" open letter to the US president for unfollowing him on Twitter soon after his scathing article over the president's response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the letter to Trump, the columnist said he had no regrets for using forceful language against him for asking scientists during coronavirus press briefing to explore whether inserting ultraviolet light or disinfectant into the bodies of people infected with the Covid-19 might help them clear the disease.
"I used very forceful language to convey my dismay at such reckless, shocking and woefully irresponsible behaviour... And for that, I make no apology," he said in the letter.
Addressing the president, he said: "You are the most powerful person in America and your words carry enormous weight and consequence. Within hours of your suggesting it might be a good idea to use bleach, one public health hotline in one state – Maryland – received 100 phone calls asking about whether they should use household detergent to combat the virus, and was forced to issue an alert warning people not to try it."
Similarly, the author said New York City’s Poison Control Centre took 30 similar calls following the Trump's irresponsible remarks.
"This latest debacle came after you previously and repeatedly hyped up an anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, as another ‘cure’ - until it turned out to cause more deaths in Covid-19 patients than those who weren’t treated with it," he added.
"I can understand why such direct language from a long-time friend may have offended you, and I understood that when I wrote it. You have a notoriously thin skin and take any criticism very badly," read his letter.
While marking the end of his relationship with the president, Morgan also shared "home truths" about Trump saying it could help him re-win the presidential elections due in November this year.
- Get serious, very serious. The world leaders that are seeing their approval ratings soar – including Germany’s Angela Merkel, New Zealand’s Jacinda Arderne and France’s Emmanuel Macron - are the ones who realised early on this was going to be the biggest crisis in their country’s modern history and have adjusted their behaviour accordingly. Nobody wants to see or hear their leader playing the buffoon when thousands are dying from a terrible virus. They want a gravity that reflects the reality.
- Show some damn empathy and compassion. You’ve barely mentioned, in any of your long rambling briefings, the terrible impact of this coronavirus on the American people.
- Stop warring with the media. There can be no more important job for any journalist than holding a government’s feet to the fire during such a massive crisis where so many lives are dependent on the right decisions being made. The way you’ve been abusing the media during your briefings is repulsively rude and undignified.
- Cut the briefings to a maximum of 45 minutes and don’t speak yourself for more than 10 minutes. Nobody wants to hear a daily free-wheeling campaign rally other than you and your die-hard base supporters. In a hideously unedifying way, you keep boasting about your brilliant ratings for the briefings, but the only reasons so many are tuning in are because either they’re scared and want accurate information and reassurance. Or because they love car crash television.
- Tell the truth. In a public health disaster of this magnitude, truth matters more than ever. Yet you’ve offered false or misleading information in 25% of your remarks. This is completely unacceptable in a president during the best of times, but during a crisis like this it’s outrageous. It’s particularly self-defeating when you lie about something that we’ve seen with our own eyes like the bleach moment. It wasn’t ‘sarcasm’, as you claimed later, and you weren’t addressing it to the ‘fake news’ - we could see you asking your experts. So, when you try to excuse your horrendous error like that, you reveal yourself, ironically, to be the purveyor of fake news.
- Stop constantly praising yourself. It’s nauseating at a time like this. Apart from the fact you don’t deserve much praise for your performance in this crisis due to America’s horribly slow response to the virus and chronic lack of preparedness, it is so diminishing for you to stand there for hour after hour telling us how great you are and what a perfect job you’re doing as America’s death toll rockets ever higher.
"Mr President, nobody pretends that any of this is easy. There can’t be anything worse for any leader than seeing a new, wicked virus ravage the country, killing tens of thousands of people, and the economy suddenly tank to the worst levels in US history."
You don’t have to re-follow me Donald, but for old time’s sake I would urge you to listen to me.
Yours respectfully, Piers.