On Friday, author and critic Touré waged a very public war with CNN’s Piers Morgan over the British-born journalist’s Thursday interview of Robert Zimmerman, Jr., the brother of Trayvon Martin‘s killer, George Zimmerman.
“These are things that hurt as an American very deeply and you are too new to this situation to fully understand what’s really going on here, what’s really at stake for America,” Touré told Piers Morgan when he appeared on Morgan’s show on Friday, after being invited by Morgan, post Twitter-war.
“What a load of fatuous nonsense you speak, don’t you Touré, don’t you,” Morgan responded. You think you have the only right to speak about what’s serious in America? You don’t think I have the right as somebody from Britain who spent the last six, seven years here, to address a story like this?”
“You’re showing clearly that you don’t understand the depth of the pain in the American soul that is at play in this situation,” Touré told Morgan, adding, “You did not do a quality interview last night [with Zimmerman],” and “I’m not saying you’re taking this case lightly but there are notes, subtleties, nuances. There’s a depth of history within this that you can’t possibly understand.”
Saying Morgan looked “tone deaf,” Allison Samuels at The Daily Beast in, “Piers Morgan Vs. Touré: How the CNN Host Blew It,” called Morgan’s tweets with Touré ”childish,” and “one of the most painful moments I’ve watched on primetime TV in a good while.”
But what was really disturbing about the more-than-20-minute showdown was the relative ease Morgan took in dismissing the African-American writer’s long and well-documented journalism background. Yes, Touré suggested that Morgan be professional in his initial tweet, but Morgan crossed the line by insinuating that Touré wasn’t a real journalist at all and by offering him tips on how real journalists do their jobs. That displayed a level of arrogance by Morgan that was completely uncalled for.
Those quips seemed to be all Morgan had in response to Touré’s suggestion that he didn’t fully appreciate the historical situation at hand. The writer even painfully added that after only being in the United States for seven years, Morgan could have no clue as to how deep the black-white divide actually is in this country. A fair point on many levels. The trials of blacks in Europe are based on a different set of circumstances, though the attitudes toward race and history’s consequences may be the same. African-Americans are the only group of once-enslaved people who continued to live in the area where their ancestors were held in shackles.
That creates a unique and tense dynamic for this country that is too often dismissed and misunderstood. But even more to the point, if Touré were not a serious journalist, why have him on the show in the first place? Why be so offended by a nonjournalist’s criticism when Twitter is full of such negative critiques aimed daily at the work of everyone from Don Cheadle to Lady Gaga. Jamal1 and Ray Ray23# had the same thoughts as Touré, so why not have them on for a heartfelt chat? Or better yet, debate my 78-year-old Aunt Josephine in Macon, Ga., who was also in complete agreement with Touré but just didn’t have a Twitter account to express it. (I’m setting her up with one next week.) How Aunt Josephine would relish the chance to put on her signature red lipstick and red “Sunday go-to-meeting hat” to go a round or two with Morgan on air. That would surely cement her star status as the toast of the Macon County church missionary club for years to come.
Ebony Magazine created the following Storify. Take a look at the tweets in chronological order to see what precipitated the story that everyone is talking about right now — fueled by CNN’s re-reporting and re-running it over and over and over and over…
Personally, my money is on Touré. Not because Morgan, being British, might not be able to grasp the full concert of American racism, but because Morgan is a poor excuse for a journalist. Granted, he followed in Larry King’s footsteps, but no one ever thought King a journalist. CNN raised our expectations with Morgan, and we’ve been more often than not disappointed.
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