Piers Morgan vs. Alex Jones gun feud: Is White House secretly pleased?

The wild faceoff between CNN host Piers Morgan and gun activist Alex Jones has, suddenly, made Jones the new face of the pro-gun movement, just as the White House pushes for gun control.

Susan Walsh/AP
Vice President Joe Biden gestures Thursday during a meeting with sportsmen and sportswomen and wildlife interest groups in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington.

Is the White House quietly pleased about the wild feud between Piers Morgan and Alex Jones over gun control? We would not be surprised if that were the case. CNN nighttime host Morgan is using his bully pulpit, such as it is, to push new gun restrictions just as VP Joe Biden is holding White House meetings on the issue. Meanwhile, Mr. Jones – a Texas radio host and conspiracy theorist – was a volcano of pro-gun something-or-other during his Monday appearance on Mr. Morgan’s show. Many gun rights supporters are not happy about that.

After all, Jones called Morgan a “hatchet man of the New World Order” and offered to wrestle him wearing red-white-and-blue trunks, then blamed 9/11 on a rogue element within the US government

“Conservatives and gun owners have lamented a perception that Alex Jones will become the face of gun owners," writes Erick Erickson, editor of the right-leaning RedState website, Thursday in a lengthy post on the roots of gun violence.

On Thursday the White House kept the whole thing going by issuing an official response to Jones’s petition to have British citizen Morgan deported for his antigun views. (In case you’re unaware, the administration has a “We the People” website where you can petition the government on anything you care about. Officials promise to respond to any petition that garners 25,000 signatures within 30 days.)

In the response, White House spokesman Jay Carney noted that in America you’re protected against being punished for the expression of political views.

“The Constitution not only guarantees an individual right to bear arms, but also enshrines the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press – fundamental principles that are essential to our democracy,” wrote Mr. Carney.

We’ll note the response was not cursory. Within it, the White House embedded a video of President Obama responding to gun petitions in general. In this, Mr. Obama asked petitioners who had written in demanding new gun restrictions in the wake of the tragic Sandy Hook school shootings to keep up their activism.

“You started something and now I’m asking you to keep it up,” says Obama in the two-minute clip.

See how the White House public outreach effort and the Morgan controversy kind of fit neatly together, in a publicity sense?

Safe from being forcibly escorted back to Jolly Old England, Morgan himself has kept at it, hosting a series of gun-control-related conversations on his own show while dropping in on other chat hosts to push his views.

On Thursday's “CBS This Morning,” Morgan said that his goal is to keep gun control at the forefront of the US national conversation, even as the memory of the Sandy Hook tragedy fades.

Gun advocate Jones “exposes the reality of how a section of Americans feels about this debate ... trying to frame anybody who wants more gun control as attacking the Constitution ... that’s not what this is about,” said Morgan on Thursday.

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