A former US ambassador has resorted to calling Sky News presenter Kay Burley a “munchkin” after the journalist suggested Donald Trump was a “slippery fish” during a tetchy live TV interview.
John Bolton made repeated personal attacks on the broadcaster as the ex-Ambassador to the United Nations was quizzed over the UK-US “special relationship” and potential trade deals after the US President and Theresa May met in Davos on Thursday.
Burley suggested to Bolton that “your president is a slippery fish”, and contended that “what he says and what he does is not necessarily the same thing”.
In June, the New York Times published a “definitive list of Trump’s lies”, which contained scores of falsehoods since taking office, and pointed out “Trump’s political rise was built on a lie” about Barack Obama’s birthplace.
Despite initially appearing to ignore Kay’s contention, Bolton returned to the “slippery fish” issue and said: “I think what you said is offensive and inappropriate.”
“You are a munchkin in the media and you may have your opinions but I think your job is to present the news accurately and not editorialise,” he went on.
“If you would like to tell me where the president behaved in a way that you disagree, let’s have an example of this and I’d be happy to deal with it.”
Burley returned with citing how Trump wants to upend the Iran nuclear deal, to which Bolton responded: “When the situation changes it is normal for someone to get out of the deal”, adding that George W Bush took the US out of nuclear agreements to help defend itself against the likes of North Korea.
“But it is not slippery,” Bolton was determined to make clear. “Do you think the United Kingdom is slippery for getting out of the European Union? Maybe you should call your whole country slippery.”
“Ooh,” responded Burley with mock shock, before urging him to “calm down, calm down” as he attempted to talk over her.
“I may not be a munchkin but I am a little bit lower than average height,” she added for the record as another guest, former UK Ambassador to the US, Sir Peter Westmacott, tried not to get involved.
But Bolton would not let it lie, returning a minute later to say: “My point with you, to make it very clear, is that I think you are unprofessional and I think your comments were uncalled for.
“Maybe you think that is your business, perhaps you let me finish this time ..”
“Please,” chimed in Burley.
“But I do not think it advances - thank you - the cause of informing your listeners.”
Burley then asked about Trump leaving the Paris Climate Accord, and suggested the US did not agree with climate change.
He accused Burley of “mis-characterising it entirely” (“of course I have,” intervened the broadcaster), arguing the Accord is a “charade”.
At the end, Burley asked her adversary if he was glad Trump had “stopped sulking” after Downing Street confirmed a visit is being planned to the UK before the end of the year.
“You know, you can continue in this vein obviously. It’s your network, I assume that your superiors think this is the proper way to conduct interviews,” he sniffed.
But Burley had the final word: “Munchkin, I’m going to put that on my Twitter profile.”