Piers Morgan Defends Bloomberg's Soda Ban

CNN's Piers Morgan has become an apologist for the nanny state. He defended Mayor Bloomberg's large soda ban on his Monday night show, a ban that was shot down that day by the state supreme court for being "arbitrary and capricious."

"I agree with Mayor Bloomberg," Morgan asserted. "And what's the point of being a mayor of a city like New York? He's been big on gun control, big on smoking – he wants New Yorkers to be fitter and healthier. What is wrong with that?"

 

Bloomberg's ban would have gone into effect Tuesday. It outlawed the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces at places regulated by the city, like restaurants and movie theaters. State-regulated businesses like 7-Eleven would have been exempt.

Morgan linked the soda ban to problems like smoking and obesity, and argued in favor of the nanny state:

"I think people need the nanny state occasionally, particularly on issues like smoking, drinking, guzzling sodas too big for them, you know, eating 16 Big Macs a day. Whatever it may be, the reality is we all need a bit of nannying about that. That's why so many people are on diets. That's a form of nanny state."

He also took a shot at Sarah Palin, who had cheered the victory tweeting, "Govt, stay out of my refrigerator!" Morgan quipped in response, "The mind only boggles what's in her refrigerator."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on Piers Morgan Live on March 11, is as follows:

PIERS MORGAN: Let's talk soda. We thought we'd give you a little treat here.

CHRISTINE QUINN (D), New York City Council Speaker: Yes, thank you very much.

MORGAN: This is a 32 ounce –

QUINN: Cheers.

MORGAN: – humdinger of diet Coca-Cola. Which is appropriate because Coca-Cola have donated money to your campaign.

QUINN: Well, yes. A small donation in total from Coca-Cola execs of $10,000 out of about the -- $6 million or $7 million we've raised so far.

MORGAN: Is that clouding your judgment on soda-gate?

(Laughter)

QUINN: I didn't know until this moment it had become soda-gate.

MORGAN: I just called it that. Everything becomes "gate" in the end.

QUINN: Well, no. You know, look, I first want to applaud Mayor Bloomberg for being probably the most aggressive mayor in the country around the issue of obesity. And obesity is an epidemic that has enormously significant health consequences, and overall I think he's doing a really good job on that issue. That said, the soda ban isn't one of his proposals in this area that I support, because my fear is that with issues around food and obesity, if you say no, people have almost a reflex reaction to do it, to go get it.

MORGAN: But is that ever a reason not to make something illegal or unlawful? I mean, take for example the ban on smoking in a number of public places. The reality is it's actually stopped most people smoking in public places, which is good for their health, and more importantly, better for the health of those around them who don't want to smoke.

QUINN: Absolutely. And when I was -- before I was Speaker I was actually Health Committee Chair. And I was the lead sponsor on the bill and led the effort in the Council to get the bill passed, the Mayor's smoking ban passed, and there was clear evidence in the city at our earlier bans, which we expanded, that it did have the effect we wanted. My concern –

(Crosstalk)

MORGAN: Well, you can't tell me, Christine Quinn, that these ridiculously large guzzling great tubs of Coke are good for your health. They're not. And if you drink loads of these every day, it's going to rot your teeth, you're going to get obese, you're then going to become a drain on society. You're going to have health issues you wouldn't have if you didn't guzzle this stuff.

(Crosstalk)

QUINN: Well calm down, Piers. You're getting a little dramatic.  

MORGAN: But I agree with – I agree with Mayor Bloomberg. And what's the point of being a mayor of a city like New York? He's been big on gun control, big on smoking – he wants New Yorkers to be fitter and healthier. What is wrong with that?

QUINN: Nothing. He's right about it. And I've supported –

MORGAN: But you think he's wrong about this?

QUINN: I do because my fear is, my belief is that with food-related issues, which are different, which are more complicated because unlike smoking which you can stop and continue existing, you have to interact with food at least three times a day. So sometimes the easy yes-no that we're all drawn to, particularly as Catholics, doesn't always work out in the end of the day with food-related issues. And sometimes I think the better answer on food issues is to expand access to quality food, to not just say no, but to make sure people have a choice to get something. So for example --

(Crosstalk)

MORGAN: See, this is where I disagree with you. I think people need the nanny state occasionally, particularly on issues like smoking, drinking, guzzling sodas too big for them, you know, eating 16 Big Macs a day. Whatever it may be, the reality is we all need a bit of nannying about that. That's why so many people are on diets. That's a form of nanny state.

QUINN: You know, I – in a way I hope I'm wrong. I hope the Mayor's right and this is effective but I really am concerned that the kind of negative, no, no, no, of this as a obesity issue which I think can be different than some of the other bans like smoking, I'm afraid it's not going to be effective. But at some point when it goes into effect, we'll have that data and we'll see who's right or wrong and on this one, I'm happy to be wrong and I hope the Mayor is right.

MORGAN: Okay. Fighting words. We have a great tweet here from Sarah Palin. "Victory in New York for liberty loving soda drinkers. The politicians have too much time on their hands. We say, government, stay out of my refrigerator." The mind only boggles what's in her refrigerator.

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