Piers Morgan vs. Alex Jones feud: helping or hurting gun control?

Shouting matches, even one-sided ones, make for 'must-see' TV. That may be why CNN host Piers Morgan, at the receiving end of the yelling on gun rights, isn't letting it drop.

Jae C. Hong/AP/File
Piers Morgan, host of CNN's 'Piers Morgan Tonight,' leaves the CNN building in Los Angeles in this file photo. More than 31,400 people, including Alex Jones, have signed a petition calling for British CNN host Piers Morgan to be deported from the US over his gun-control views.

Piers Morgan’s instantly infamous interview with Alex Jones on gun control has started a feud that’s getting weirder by the day. CNN host Mr. Morgan on Tuesday described his encounter with Mr. Jones the night before on “Piers Morgan Tonight” as “terrifying,” and added that Jones’s unhinged rants are the best advertisement for gun control he can think of. Meanwhile, Texas talk-radio host Jones – a self-described “paleoconservative” – accused Morgan of joking on-air about shooting him.

Will any of this affect the actual chance of passage for national gun legislation? Well, maybe. Even staunch gun rights supporter Glenn Beck noted on Tuesday that Jones sounds “crazy” and makes it easy for liberals to portray the right as extremists on this issue.

But the whole thing is becoming so outrageous that it may end up as nothing but a vaudeville show that occupies viewers' time while VP Joe Biden meets with the NRA and other groups to try to come up with a serious approach to what might be done to lessen firearm violence.

OK, let’s back up a second to summarize the state of play. Jones is a main supporter of a petition on the White House citizen input website that calls for the deportation of British citizen Morgan because of his continued calls for gun-control legislation. On Monday, Morgan had Jones on his show to talk about this. “Talk” isn’t really the word for what happened, though. It was more of a one-person shoutfest, as Jones riffed about guns, oppressive government, the flag, his ancestors’ role in Texan independence, and what flag Morgan would have on his tights if they wrestled.

We’ll add here that Jones believes a conspiracy within the US government caused 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombings and the Gulf of Tonkin incident (look it up). So it’s not as if he’s somebody who’s seen the mainstream for a very long time.

Our reaction was that it was a setup, in the sense that Morgan knew full well that Jones’s opinions would horrify much of America, and that the resultant car wreck of a segment would prove irresistible television.

On Tuesday, Morgan lit into Jones during a "CNN Newsroom" appearance.

“I can’t think of a better advertisement for gun control than Alex Jones’s interview last night,” he said. “It was startling, it was terrifying in parts, it was completely deluded.... It showed no compassion whatsoever to the victims of gun shootings, and the kind of twisted way that he turned everything into this assault on the Second Amendment is exactly what the gun rights lobby people do. And it’s a lie. It cannot be allowed to continue.”

Meanwhile, Jones’s camp responded with outrage to what it said was a threat on their guy’s life. On Morgan’s follow-up show Tuesday night, sportswriter Buzz Bissinger said this, according to Jones-affiliated website Infowars.com: “But what do you need a semi-automatic weapon for? The only reason I think you’d need it, Piers, challenge Alex Jones to a boxing match, show up with a semi-automatic that you got legally, and pop him.”

Was Mr. Bissinger talking about “pop,” as in “punch,” there, or something worse? In any case, if he really said that, he’s being reckless with his words, at best. Why give Jones something like that to work with?

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