Jonah Goldberg Fires Back at Piers Morgan, Accuses Him of Double Standard

After his recent bout with CNN's Piers Morgan, Jonah Goldberg came back for more fireworks on Tuesday's Piers Morgan Tonight. He accused Morgan of a double standard and took him to task over his lack of journalistic integrity, and Morgan fired back in defense.

Goldberg took to his blog after the April 30 interview to rip Morgan as a partisan hack who was "carrying water for the Democrats." He stood by his words on Tuesday, telling his host "you kept carrying water for the Obama perspective in a way that struck a lot of people as sort of one-sided and unfair, and you weren't listening to the actual answers I was giving."

"You had Dan Rather on, you had David Axelrod," he told Morgan, and added "it seems to me that the way you interviewed them was far less prosecutorial, far less adversarial, sometimes bordered on a level of sort of dictation-taking, where you didn't question their premise."

Morgan indeed fawned over Rather the day after he grilled Goldberg. He called him "the beating heart of American journalism for a quarter century," a "comforting voice of authority,"  and praised his "extraordinary career."

Perhaps what was most galling was Morgan lamenting that "it must be so distressing to you, as a journalist foremost of great integrity, that you had to leave under the cloud that you left under."

When Goldberg challenged him over a double standard, Morgan fiercely contended it. "Oh don't be so ridiculous. Jonah, now listen. Listen. I'll put up with this to a certain degree, but let's just....get it in perspective. I have interviewed far more Republican politicians, for example, this year than I have Democrats. Far more."

That may be true, but Morgan has shown a clear double-standard in his time at CNN. He has repeatedly lauded President Obama and praised liberals like the controversial Bill Maher, while belittling conservatives like Goldberg.

Goldberg also accused Morgan of making a straw man out of his argument, bullying him, and taking his argument out of context. "But you kept interrupting me, you wouldn't let me answer questions. You asked me these sort of fake questions asked on false premises, and then you wouldn't let me answer them or clear the air," he insisted.

"You kept saying, I don't believe in ideology, I don't have an agenda, I'm not partisan, and then you kept carrying water for the Obama perspective in a way that struck a lot of people as sort of one-sided and unfair, and you weren't listening to the actual answers I was giving," Goldberg continued.

A partial transcript of the segment, which aired on May 9 on Piers Morgan Tonight at 9:18 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

[9:18]

PIERS MORGAN: Here's the thing that I found quite ironic, I guess, which is that after our last exchange, which I quite enjoyed, actually, but there was an assumption made I think by you, and then by your army of supporters online, which becomes like a kind of – like a new invading Twitter, Facebook online Roman army, crashing towards me. And the general consensus was I was this screaming wet liberal who had been basically defying the right, which I found in itself a very cliche presumption. Because I'm not a screaming wet liberal at all. I just happen to disagree with you on that particular story.

(...)

[9:20]

JONAH GOLDBERG: And so subsequently on this point, and I think it ties into the book and it ties into your question, I went back and I looked at the interviews you did over the last week with other guests on your shows, with actual newsmakers, not just some guy with a book that you clearly didn't know who I was beforehand. You had Dan Rather on, you had David Axelrod. And the way you interviewed them, it seems to me, again from my cliched conservative perspective, it seems to me that the way you interviewed them was far less prosecutorial, far less adversarial, sometimes bordered on a level of sort of dictation-taking, where you didn't question their premise –

MORGAN: Oh don't be so ridiculous. Jonah, now listen. Listen. I'll put up with this to a certain degree, but let's just --

GOLDBERG: That's very gracious of you.

MORGAN: -- get it in perspective. I have interviewed far more Republican politicians, for example, this year than I have Democrats. Far more.

GOLDBERG: Yeah, okay.

MORGAN: I've interviewed Rick Santorum maybe a dozen times, Newt Gingrich, six or seven times, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney. None of them have ever accused me of having a liberal bias against them. I like to give it a fair crack of the whip. I can't vote anyway. I don't have a horse in the race.

What I was reacting to was the fact that you came on with a very provocative book, "The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas," and I will concede, if you read the book, you say look, Republicans do it, too, the right do this, too. But it's the hypocrisy of the liberals that you were attacking.

But on that particular day there happened to be a story about Barack Obama going to Afghanistan celebrating the anniversary of the death of bin Laden, bringing out this commercial with Bill Clinton, and I happen to believe quite strongly – not from a left or right perspective, or a screaming fascist or liberal view – I believe quite strongly he was perfectly entitled to do that. I didn't think he was spiking the football. I felt anybody who was president of the United States, Republican or Democrat, who had taken out bin Laden, a year on was entitled to remind people of that fact.

(Crosstalk

GOLDBERG: Piers, here's the thing. I agreed with you. More than once on this point. But you seem to want to put me into a box, turn me into a strawman that I am not, and say that somehow I was arguing he had no right to do it.

My objection was with how the Obama ad treated the question of Mitt Romney. And what I tried to convey to you more than once was the fact that what you were quoting Mitt Romney out of context. You were – the point Mitt Romney was trying to make when he says you don't spend billions and move heaven and earth to save Osama bin Laden, is the same thing that you would say you don't fight World War II just to kill Adolf Hitler. You fight World War II to win World War II. You fight the war on terror to win the war on terror.

The next day in the Republican debate, Mitt Romney as asked about this in a follow up question, and he said, of course you take your chance to get bin Laden if you have it. My objection was with your characterization, where you didn't even mention the Mitt Romney part in the ad, and you trying to bully me into saying that I didn't think Obama had a right to gloat about it. I think he has every right to gloat about it.

(...)

GOLDBERG: But you kept interrupting me, you wouldn't let me answer questions. You asked me these sort of fake questions asked on false premises, and then you wouldn't let me answer them or clear the air. And I think that's --

(...)

MORGAN: So if we'd had that debate tonight, you wouldn't be calling me a screaming liberal, would you? That's why I come back to –

GOLDBERG: No, you keep saying I called you a screaming liberal --

(Crosstalk)

GOLDBERG: I have never once called you a screaming liberal. All I've said is that you proved the point of – that I made at the beginning of that interview which is that you were very one-sided. You kept saying, I don't believe in ideology, I don't have an agenda, I'm not partisan, and then you kept carrying water for the Obama perspective in a way that struck a lot of people as sort of one-sided and unfair, and you weren't listening to the actual answers I was giving. That's all. I've never called you a screaming liberal, never called you a fascist, I've never done any of those things.
 

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