During this latest roiling—and thoroughly unsatisfying—“national debate” on gun control, it has become increasingly rare to encounter serious discourse, especially on the cable news networks. To those who believe the Obama administration is, like Nazis and Stalinists before it, coming to requisition America’s guns, there isn’t time for nuance (I wrote about the silly Nazi comparison here). And for those mystified by gun culture, the Second Amendment is outdated and removed from its historical context, and those millions of American gun owners and NRA Lifetime Members are separated from people like Jones by a matter of degrees.
Alex Jones is a representative Second Amendment enthusiast in the same way that Leonid Brezhnev is an archetypal progressive. Piers Morgan, of course, understands this. But rather than promoting reasoned debate, he lunges towards the unreasonable in an attempt to influence the debate. As he conceded on Twitter, “the more we hear from [Jones], the better chance proper U.S. gun control legislation will be passed.” In other words, if the viewing public can be persuaded that those who oppose tighter restrictions of firearms are not unlike Jones, the Morgan argument is an easier sell. He’s putting his finger on the scale; but whatever it takes to prevent future school shootings.
The Jones interview moved the gun debate not one inch; it merely provided a large platform for a paranoid extremist—and car-crash television for the rest of us. But Morgan, whose poorly-rated show has long been on life support, believed the segment a rousing success, retweeting to a journalist who noted that the Jones interview received four million Youtube views in less than 48 hours. Morgan, whose American journalism career was listless and limping, saw his fortunes turn when his show became a brash, single-issue clearinghouse for critics of America’s gun laws. After years of offering a third way between the ideologues of Fox and MSNBC, at least one host at CNN has determined that it pays to be more, not less, like the cable-news competition.