According to Politico, Morgan feels set upon, annoyed that his critics focus only on his interviews with conspiracy theorists like Jones and former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura. “Why don’t people watch my interviews with Justice Scalia, President Clinton, President Carter, the Dalai Lama, Michael Bloomberg, any of the Republican candidates for the nominee race, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.” It’s a question that CNN’s top brass would also like answered—his ratings have ticked up recently, though are still well short of his competitors at MSNBC and FOX—but it also rather misses the point. The act of interviewing clever and important people doesn’t, on its own, confer respectability. If The View were to spend twenty minutes discussing literature with Philip Roth, the only lesson to be drawn is that ABC hired a terrific booker—and that Roth was perhaps getting desperate in retirement.
Indeed, Morgan’s interview with Iranian theocrat Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whom he respectfully called “a scholar” and “a very intelligent man,” is instructive. Morgan was occasionally tough on Ahmadinejad, but managed only uninteresting questions and, as a result, received predictably evasive answers (“So to clarify, Mr. President, if a single woman from Iran is watching this interview, she can go skiing on her own?”). And while guests that take an opposing position on the gun debate are mau-maued, scorned, insulted, and prevented from giving answers, Ahmadinejad’s rebuke of Morgan’s frequent interruptions resulted in a chastened apology: “Forgive me for my impertinence. I will allow you to answer in any way you see fit.”