Exclusive: Piers Morgan on Alex Jones
By DYLAN BYERS |
1/8/13 11:47 AM EST
CNN host Piers Morgan just called to discuss his interview last night with Alex Jones, the conservative radio host and gun advocate who went on a tirade against Morgan, gun control legislation, and a litany of government conspiracies.
"He was the best advertisement for gun control you could wish for," Morgan told POLITICO.
"That kind of vitriol, hatred, and zealotry is really quite scary. I didn't feel threatened by him, but I'm concerned that someone like him has that level of influence," Morgan said. "There's got to be a level of discourse that can rise above what happened last night. It was undignified, unedifying."
In what Morgan described as a "big, long rant," Jones -- the man who started the White House petition to deport Morgan -- shouted questions about gun control legislation, gave premonitions of a 1776-like rebellion, and pronounced conspiracy theories -- including his belief that 9/11 was an inside job -- while Morgan tried calmly and in vain to conduct a civil interview.
"Sometimes it's better to let somebody have the rope they need to tie themselves in knots," Morgan told POLITICO, noting that he had been far more vocal and more passionate in previous interviews with gun advocates. According to Morgan, Jones continued ranting straight through the commercial break that divided the two-segment interview.
Morgan said he anticipated such a performance: "I knew what we were going to be getting into with him," he said. "I know about his background and his reputation, so I know he's kind of shock jock."
But Jones is also influential among conservatives, Morgan said, which is why he had him on CNN.
"He said last night that his show now airs in 140 networks, he has a huge online presence -- every day his message gets sent out to millions of Americans," Morgan said. "Through vitriol and rhetoric he is able to spur heavy gun sales and ammunition sales. He works off of fear."
Jones is the host of The Alex Jones Show, baed in Austin, Tex., and the creator of InfoWars.com and PrisonPlanet.com, two websites that promote a worldview the Southern Poverty Law Center described as being "governed by logic-leaping deductions and heedless pronouncements."
But Jones has made a success of those websites, of his show, and -- most recently -- of the petition to deport Morgan, which has over 100,000 signatures. Last night, White House spokesman Jay Carney issued a response to the petition, citing "the freedom of expression" as "a bedrock principle in our democracy"
"He is clearly a smart guy under the craziness," Morgan said. "Look, you could tell from the way he ranted that he's not a stupid man. But that makes him more dangerous. There will be lots of people who follow him avidly who are not so intelligent, who believe everything he says."
Morgan added that the petition to deport him was "not an insignificant issue."
"There is a pattern of British people who espouse peace or want more peace being gagged in this country," he said, citing John Lennon and Charlie Chaplin. But Morgan said that Carney's nod to the First Amendment was promising.
"They were making the point I've been making: You can hardly accuse me of attacking the Second Amendment by attacking the First Amendment," he said. "I am merely representing my opinion, and that is protected."
Though the media seems to have all but forgotten the gun control debate, and though chances for gun control legislation are starting to look dim, Morgan vowed to continue addressing the issue until government takes action.
"After every shooting, America goes back to normal. The media come off the story, nothing gets done, the pressure on politicians dissipates," he said. "But you and I both know there's going to be another shooting in months, or even weeks. My intent is simply to keep this issue boiling along until the politicians act on it."
"I think America is getting diluted to the horror of these things: it's become too casual, too widespread, too indiscriminate, and incredibly dangerous," he said. "Something has to be done."
Source: http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/201 ... 53617.html