February 28, 2013
close up of handgun
(Scott Olson / Getty Images)

CNN last night showed a sense of humor as Piers Morgan battled with gun-rights proponent John Lott (“More Guns, Less Crime“) on the fine points of mass shootings and their prevention. A chyron hit the screen repeating a question that Lott had posed:

“Lott: Why am I on?” (See video here).

It was a pivotal question, too, because over an extended discussion, Morgan interrupted Lott enough times to short-circuit the Erik Wemple Blog Interrupto-Meter.

*He interrupted Lott when Lott was trying to make a point about mass shooting tallies;
*He interrupted Lott when Lott was trying to make a point about weapons types;
*He interrupted Lott when Lott was trying to make a point about evidence for the effectiveness of weapons bans;
*He interrupted Lott several times when Lott was trying to make a point about mass shootings overseas.

And then he interrupted Lott when Lott complained that he was being interrupted. “I’m going to keep talking, so I suggest you keep quiet,” Morgan said, determined, apparently, to win this face-off not on the merits but via verbal thuggery.

“Why am I on?” asked Lott. “Why am I on?”

As aggrieved as Lott appeared, he knew what he was in for. Morgan had dissed him on previous outings, after all. He told this blog in December, “The thing that’s most disappointing to me is that they don’t engage the argument,” he said, referring to CNN hosts. “They just want to talk over you or just raise the volume.” Yet Lott continues coming on. All the abuse he takes only amps up the exposure for him and his books.

Morgan’s high point came at the very end of the segment, when he was bidding adieu to Lott:

MORGAN: Mr. Lott, thank you for joining me again. I look forward to talking to you again about this. As you know, I disagree with you passionately. But I respect your right to have your opinion.

Bolded text added to highlight Morgan’s brilliant linguistic precision. Lott is free to have his opinion, just not express it on his show.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.