The Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey has found herself in the spotlight – but for all the wrong reasons.
She became the centre of media attention after switching off her camera during a testy exchange with Piers Morgan on the ITV breakfast show, Good Morning Britain.
When asked to explain the UK’s shamefully high death rate from Covid-19, she blamed an obesity problem and an older population.
As you would expect from a famously combative interviewer, Morgan immediately seized on this and asked if she was suggesting the UK public was “too old” and “too fat”?
Coffey replied: “I think that’s a very insulting thing that you’ve just said.”
She added: “I also have to point out that you started this interview late. Unfortunately, I have to go to other broadcasters as well, and I wish we had more time.”
After a further exchange she leaned forward to turn off the camera on her computer, saying: “I’m sorry Piers, I’m going to have to go to another broadcasters…. You’ve already had 20 minutes of my time, I appreciate your time as well.”
She then switched off the camera, much to the astonishment of Morgan and his fellow presenter Susanna Reid.
It was hard to feel sorry for Coffey. Britain has the highest death rate in Europe, and it was obvious she was going to be questioned about that.
Short of coming clean and admitting the government’s handling of the pandemic was largely responsible, there was never going to be a satisfactory explanation.
But to blame obese and elderly people then suddenly terminate the interview, saying she had run out of time, was little short of appalling.
It was a classic example of how not to do an interview and underlined the need for thorough preparation and the importance of adopting a positive and sympathetic mindset, especially when dealing with an extremely delicate and sensitive matter.
As for walking out on a live broadcast interview, this is something you should never do.
Why – because it is rude and shows a disregard not just for the interviewer but the audience as well, and the conclusion that most people will reach is that you’re hiding something and are guilty as charged, or that you simply don’t care, neither of which casts you in a good light.
In other words, don’t do a Coffey – do your homework, show respect and act as if you care.