Jonah Goldberg Slams 'Niggling Pedant' Piers Morgan After Monday's Interview

After CNN's Piers Morgan belittled conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg for upwards of 11 minutes on Monday night, Goldberg fired back Tuesday on his National Review blog and called it a "shameful spectacle." He accused Morgan of being a partisan hack while claiming journalistic impartiality.

"Liberal journalists don't think they have any biases, which makes it very hard for them to compensate for them," Goldberg wrote on Tuesday. He added that Morgan all the while was "making the case for Obama from what he thinks is the centrist position."

The interview began innocently, as Morgan asked about Goldberg's newest book "The Tyranny of Cliches." But he immediately switched gears and, in Goldberg's words, "cross-examined" him over the conservative backlash against President Obama's remark that Mitt Romney would not have given the order to kill bin Laden.

Morgan was a fierce defender of the President and a critic of the Republicans, all while claiming to be a "devil's advocate." Goldberg later ranted that Morgan was "carrying water for the Democrats."  

"Are we really going to do this sort of high school debating tactic crap?" Goldberg exclaimed at one point in the interview, to which Morgan replied in the affirmative.

Towards the end of the interview, Morgan lauded the President as "quite cool." He decried the Republican line of "Obama's too cool" concerning his recent appearance on Jimmy Fallon, interview with Rolling Stone, and jokes made at the White House correspondents dinner.

A partial transcript of the interview, which aired on April 30 on Piers Morgan Tonight at 9:10 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

PIERS MORGAN: If Barack Obama had been on the record two or three years ago, saying – and Mitt Romney was the president at the time – and had said I do not believe it is worth spending this kind of money, going after one guy, are you telling me with a straight face, again, that Mitt Romney wouldn't have capitalized on that if he had then taken out Osama bin Laden? He wouldn't have reminded his number one challenger that he said he wouldn't have spent the money?

JONAH GOLDBERG, author: Well, first of all, your characterization of what Mitt Romney said, I think, is off.

MORGAN: No, it's not.

GOLDBERG: Of course it is.

MORGAN: No, it's not.

GOLDBERG: Mitt Romney was talking about fighting the war on terror in the context of fighting one – coming after one man. He never said if I have the opportunity, you know, he wasn't spending all of this money. That's not what Barack Obama did when he got Osama bin Laden. It was a pretty cheap operation. No problem with that, I support it.

(Crosstalk)

MORGAN: How much does it cost?

GOLDBERG: It didn't cost --

MORGAN: What's your idea of cheap?

GOLDBERG: Are we really going to do this sort of high school debating tactic crap?

MORGAN: Yes. I'm curious what you think of what cheap means.

GOLDBERG: I would put it at – I don't know, $50 million, $40 million.

MORGAN: Wow. And that's cheap in the Republican world?

GOLDBERG: That's cheap in comparison to what the cost of the War on Terror is.

MORGAN: No wonder the country got into the mess it did.

GOLDBERG: I suppose that that's supposed to be a really telling point. I'm not quite sure how it is.

MORGAN: I'm just saying the Republican administration obviously led to a huge financial collapse. You wouldn't dispute that.

GOLDBERG: I would and I would also say Barack Obama has spent much, much, much, much more money than the Republicans.

MORGAN: Would you dispute that after eight years of Republican administration the country went into a huge economic collapse?

GOLDBERG: No, but that's a timeline question.

(Crosstalk)

GOLDBERG: It came afterwards, yes.

MORGAN: Do you thin – given we're talking about ideology, as you put it.

GOLDBERG: Uh-huh.

MORGAN: Do you think the ideology that $50 million is cheap? I don't know what it cost, the mission, actually, but $50 million is cheap is part of the problem here?

GOLDBERG: I think the debate tactic of getting – of sort of standing on a soap box and waxing poetic about how much I think this operation cost is cheap. That said –

MORGAN: But you're criticizing the cliched ideology of the liberals here, and I'm playing devil's advocate. I'm not saying you're wrong. But I'm saying when it comes to cheap ideology, chucking out statements like $50 million is cheap.

GOLDBERG: Well, I didn't chuck it out. You pried it out of me. You begged me for an answer.

MORGAN: That's good journalism, isn't it?

GOLDBERG: Maybe, you know –

MORGAN: Isn't that the point of an interview about this kind of issue?

GOLDBERG: No, but you're cross-examining me. You're not interviewing me.

MORGAN: What do you think of the whole debate about Obama's too cool? Republicans throwing this back at him, saying you can't be on entertainment shows, doing the slow jam with Jimmy Fallon. You can't be on the cover of "Rolling Stone" magazine if you're to be taken seriously. This is the wrong kind of thing. I mean, are they really expecting us to believe that if Mitt Romney was president, he wouldn't do stuff like this occasionally?

GOLDBERG: Oh I think he would do stuff – I don't think he'd be on "Rolling Stone," because I think "Rolling Stone" would burst into flames before that happened. But –

MORGAN: Is it a legitimate line of attack?

(Crosstalk)

GOLDBERG: I don't think that's quite the line of attack. I think he certainly has every right to do it. I don't think any – I don't know of anybody who says he can't do it. But at the same time, I do think that some of that act is wearing thin. You can only be cool for so long in American life, and I think in life in general.

MORGAN: But I watched him at the White House Correspondents Dinner. I was there. And he had a ready wit, charm, delivery, great comic timing. You couldn't dispute it. Everybody was falling about laughing. He got more laughs than Jimmy Kimmel did. You can't dispute the guy is quite cool.

And why would Americans not like to have a cool president? Doesn't it resonate quite well around the world to have a guy that can sing like Al Green, that can crack jokes like the best comedians? I mean, isn't this good for America?
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014