CNN's Piers Morgan kept bludgeoning Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) with provocative liberal questions, and finally the congressman had enough of the theater. Mack berated the CNN host for making a "joke" out of his show during a testy interview Monday night.
Morgan and the congressman started bickering when Morgan asked whether Mack thought Speaker Boehner should resign because of the "terrible deal." Mack had voted against the bipartisan debt ceiling agreement, and Morgan tried to exploit any disagreement he held with his leader.
Mack immediately shot down that notion, but Morgan then followed up with another provocative question. "If he [Boehner] done such a great job, why did you stab him in the back?"
Mack then went on the offensive. "Come on, don't be ridiculous with stuff like that. Now you're just making your show a joke." The CNN host was quite defensive and stood by his questions, yet Mack did not back down. "Well, when you say things like stab the Speaker in the back, that demeans your own show," he asserted.
Early in the interview, Morgan tried to pin the congressman with a non sequitur, asking him if he would be glad if the U.S. underwent a catastrophe because of failure to raise the debt ceiling. "Congressman, you voted no to a deal that got bipartisan support and saved America from going into catastrophic default. So I can only assume that you would have been quite happy for your country to go into catastrophic default?" Morgan asked.
When Mack argued that plenty of economists believe that increased taxes would kill economic growth right now, Morgan shot back "I'm sure you've heard of Paul Krugman, for example. He won a Nobel Prize for economics." Krugman is a liberal columnist for the New York Times.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on August 1 at 9:21 p.m. EDT, is as follows:
PIERS MORGAN: The debt battle has been an ugly spectacle of Republicans battling Democrats, Republicans battling Republicans, and Democrats battling Democrats. So is the Tea Party the big winner in all this? Joining me now is Representative Connie Mack of Florida who voted no tonight. Congressman, you voted no to a deal that got bipartisan support and saved America from going into catastrophic default. So I can only assume that you would have been quite happy for your country to go into catastrophic default?
Rep. CONNIE MACK (R-Fla.): Well, then you would have assumed wrong, obviously.
MORGAN: The problem is, any sensible economist around the world says you cannot get America out of this catastrophic debt it's now in without raising taxation. Yet you're impeccably opposed to this.
MACK: Well, again, I mean I've – saying that if all economists -- I don't think that's correct. I mean there are plenty of economists who say if you were to raise taxes right now, you would kill any kind of growth that we might be having.
MORGAN: I'm sure you've heard of Paul Krugman, for example. He won a Nobel Prize for economics.
MACK: Well, I'm sure there are a lot of other economists on the other side, but are you telling me that you think America that we should raise taxes in a time when an economic turndown?
MORGAN: And finally, Congressman, presumably, you believe that Speaker Boehner should now resign given he's authorized this terrible deal?
MACK: Of course, I don't believe that. I think the speaker has done as good a job as he can considering the circumstances. He had a president that was unwilling or unable to sit down at the table and put up his own plan. He had to work with the Senate that had no plan and no idea of its own, and then he had to work through the different factions in our own conference. I think the speaker has done an excellent job. It's not something that I supported, but that's what happens here in Washington, D.C. all the time.
MORGAN: If he's done such a great job, why did you stab him in the back?
MACK: I didn't stab him in the back. Come on, don't be ridiculous with stuff like that. Now you're just making your show a joke.
MORGAN: Really? Why is that?
MACK: For saying things like that, Piers. Come on.
MORGAN: Well, I don't – I actually don't agree. I think that this was such an important deal, and the American people were so desperate for a deal to be done with bipartisan support that the continual reluctance of any of the characters like you from the Tea Party side who many people feel have had their fun and turned this debt ceiling issue into a scandal that should never have been a scandal, that brought the country almost to its economic knees by doing so. I mean actually now the right thing to do is to take one for the team, isn't it? Move on a bipartisan way, not continue to try and stop this process going ahead. That's not my show being a joke, it's a fact.
MACK: Well, when you say things like stab the speaker in the back, that demeans your own show.
MORGAN: But when you are a few hours away from the first-ever default in American history, and the disaster that would bring not just to America's economy, but the world's, and your leader does a deal with the Democrats which has massive wide bipartisan support, and you still refuse to sign up to it, you are stabbing him in the back, metaphorically. Not really, you're not doing it with a knife, but effectively, that's what you're doing.
MACK: In fact, what I'm doing is fighting for what I believe is right, and I think the American people recognize what we need to be doing is cutting spending.