Should bullshit be called out on air, or would that be “unprofessional? Touré battles Piers Morgan.
That divide isn’t going away. Rarely does it bust into prime-time network television. Rarely do we see anything this raw.
I’m not behind everything Touré says here. If you watch the interview they’re arguing about—Piers Morgan questioning Robert Zimmerman, George Zimmerman’s brother—it’s not nearly as lame as Touré paints it. And I don’t think it’s wise for Touré to rave on about Morgan’s inability to understand America because Piers has been here only a few years. Sometimes outsiders and newcomers see us better.
But… There is a big question on the broadcast journalism table. It involves what a television interviewer should do when he simply doesn’t believe what a guest has just said. Piers Morgan thinks he should ask skeptical questions and let that stand as his “statement.” Touré thinks that’s not good enough. A more direct confrontation is required. (See the Twitter war they had preceding the interview.)
For a long time the journalism world was sold on Morgan’s view. But I don’t think that’s true any more. Views on what counts as “professional” can shift. (See this and this.) It’s conceivable to me that letting a guest make wildly implausible claims will one day fail the Serious Broadcaster test. A good portion of the viewership already expects better, and some of the most careful watchers of the Daily Show’s send-ups are journalists.
Piers Morgan keeps telling Touré that at no point did he signal to us that he believed Robert Zimmerman. To him that means he’s off the hook. But that’s an old hook. The new one is when to tell the audience that this guest cannot be believed.
If I had a prime time show, that would keep me up at night.