Mar 31, 2012

(Mediaite) -- Earlier today, MSNBC contributor Touré and CNN’s Piers Morgan duked it out on Twitter over the Piers Morgan Tonight host’s interview with Robert Zimmerman, Jr., brother of Trayvon Martin killer George Zimmerman (who claims self-defense in the shooting). The result of all that smack-talk was an impromptu booking that culminated in a crackling Touré appearance on Friday night’s PMT.

The weird thing here is that Morgan’s show tapes in the afternoon, and airs at 9pm, so after the taping, the two continued to talk trash on Twitter, each declaring victory:

Touré: Resorts to name calling cuz I killed him on his show. RT@lolaogunnaike: Why is @piersmorgan calling @toure a fatuous loudmouth? It’s beef?

Piers Morgan:Poor old @Toure just got exposed for what he is – an unprofessional, fatuous, loudmouth. Tune in at 9pmET to see for yourself #CNN

Touré: Will be interesting to see if tough guy @piersmorgan edits our interview to save his ass or shows it like it really happened.

Touré began by reiterating his criticism of Morgan’s interview, then crowing that “in the hallways (at NBC) we were laughing at you. We wouldn’t take him. Standards and Practices at NBC wouldn’t let (Robert Zimmerman) get through door.”

Morgan pointed out that “MSNBC, as has NBC, has all been running clips of my interview, without challenging it. Nor are they quibbling with the news value of the brother of George Zimmerman going on the record and giving his version of events.”

He also argued that he “challenged him repeatedly about many of the things that he was saying.”

That’s when Touré played the England card. “What you understand as challenging, perhaps maybe that goes in England. That’s not what we do in terms of challenging in America. I saw a person who was saying things that didn’t ring true to me.”

It was a theme that the two would revisit in the next segment, in the most emotional part of the interview, when Morgan challenged Touré about a joke that he had tweeted. All of the meta-wrangling about who’s a more professional journalist melted away, and the raw power of this story became evident.

“You tweeted this on the 19th of March,” Piers said. “‘New slang. You’re Zimmermaning me equals you’re killing me.’ That’s a pretty serious responsible piece of journalism, isn’t it, Touré?”

“In the first days, in the first weeks of the situation,” Touré responded, ”what I was trying to do is to pile on and to say ‘Hey, look, this guy is not doing the right thing. This guy has harmed somebody in our community.’ Some people misconstrued that. But this is an incredibly serious situation.”

“So serious that you felt the need to throw out jokes,” Morgan shot back.

“You’re showing you don’t understand America,” Touré said.

“I understand America very well,” Piers said.

Touré compared his joke to “the blues,” adding ”You might call it black humor. Not African-American humor, but black humor. Dark humor. These are things that are common in America, that laugh to keep from crying. Once again another black person who is unarmed and innocent and not doing anything wrong has been killed. And this is incredibly painful and goes back before before you were born, and before your father was born, and before my grandfather was born. So 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, and what’s really at stake for America.”

Morgan paused. “What a load of fatuous nonsense. You think you have the only right to speak about what’s serious in America. You think I don’t have the right, as somebody from Britain who spent the last six or seven years here, to address the story?”

He then asked Touré if he believes George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, to which he replied “Yes.”

Morgan pounced. “So you’ve already tried him? You’ve convicted him?”

“You asked me what I think,” Touré responded.

“You called me an irresponsible journalist. That is professional?”

Point: Morgan, but then Touré launched into a powerful summation of the Trayvon Martin case that could easily serve as any eventual prosecutor’s summation.

Morgan finished with a further defense of his own journalism. “What I haven’t done is convict George Zimmerman because I haven’t seen the facts yet. You berate me for lack of journalism. You said you believe he murdered him. You have a biased one-sided opinion based on the limited amount of facts that we have at our disposal. That’s your prerogative. You also think it’s okay to do stupid dumb jokes, mocking, what do you call it, Zimmermaning me? I like to think that I’m a professional journalist. I think you are something else.”

When you strip away all of the pique and ego, what you have is a few minutes of very powerful TV, and a great illustration of the conflict between utter neutrality and the power of a point of view.


  1. I usually dont like PIERs too much but he in my view was right. This African American was smug, out of line and rude... he was also coming to prejudgement before all the facts are in. THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS STORY.
    Can everyone sit back and relax a bit and allow the story to play out before being so outraged?

  2. This story would not have even gotten this far without the outrage. Remember the man has not even been arrested. Arrest does not automatically mean prosecution and prosecution does not always yield a guilty verdict. The case will be tried by the public until the criminal justice system presents a charge.

    Toure seems to represent those that are outraged but I do not think that trying to check Piers Morgan accomplishes anything. I am not impressed with PM and do not understand why he was given Larry King's timeslot. I do not watch his show and I think Toure does better with pop culture commentary versus hard news. He is entitled to his opinion but this exchange does nothing to further this fight for justice.

  3. Toure seems to be a closeted racist. He is accusing Morgan of exactly the same thing he is attempting to fight against. Toure doesn't own this story and anyone is free to comment especially the family of George Zimmeran. Does Toure actually expect the Zimmerman family to sit quietly by while lynch mob forms to take out their child?

  4. I usually dont like PIERs too much but he in my view was right. This African American was smug, out of line and rude... he was also coming to prejudgement before all the facts are in. THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS STORY.
    Can everyone sit back and relax a bit and allow the story to play out before being so outraged?


    Uh, smug, out of line rude?? Relax?? Seriously? What is he supposed to be humble and kind? The scary black man is expressing himself on a topic that is a hot button issue that he happens to know something about. Piers Martin is the definition of smug, a man from England for christ's sake, the cradle of imperialism. And what the hell would he know of journalism anyway anyone even vaguely connected to the rags in England and Rupert Murdoch has no business casting or pretending like he has journalistic ethics!

  5. Toure first tried to emotionally shame Piers into saying it was unfair to give zimmerman time of day. Bullied him actually with " we laughed at you" since he could have finely said " we questioned why you would." secondly if toure's argument was " you have no right to use the mind you have to think about what is right or wrong because you were born and raised in England." then by the same logic I could say " because toure is black, he has no right to use his mind on what is right or wrong in this country because in this country black people commit the most blue collared crimes" ... See how it is wrong? Toure was wrong in making that stupid reasoning. Third, if toure thinks a judgement should be made without a fair trial, then WHAT IS THE POINT OF LAW SCHOOL, LAWYERs and judges? He discredits the function of law and law professions and by doing that he is saying that the law should no be respected AND if the law is not to be respected and no confidence should be had in the trial process then let ALL black, just Toure and his children be NOT given a fair chance at trial if in that position. Toure is acting like it is HIS mass media to do and say and not let the others do or say if it contradicts what he is doing or saying, or at least rudely bully them by trying to make the person feel stupid at getting laughed at. THAT IS NOT THE IDEALS OF THE UNITED STATES OF America!! Freedom of speech goes both ways.. Toure is acting like a bratty kid who is throwing a tantrum because he doesn't like the artwork Piers put up on his wall. Piers can put up artwork of the naked man or woman or of a man being tortured, like a man nailed to the cross, if so he wishes, like a church does, but if it is offensive then people may not want to go to his gallery any more, but people won't want to listen to a boy who tries to get another person to cry at the thought of getting laughed at either. Nobody likes bullies and that is what Toure AND Zimmerman might both be.

  6. And whoever said Scary black man is twisted. What is scary is bullying. Leave him or her alone and help tell other people to stop bullying other people.