by Lekan Olanrewaju
It was a battle of egos on Friday night, as two popular journalists and very opinionated men faced off on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight over the recent killing of a young man in America – an incident that has started off a nation-wide row over race.
In case you’ve missed the story, Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old African-American boy who was shot by George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old community watch coordinator, in Sanford Florida.
Martin had been walking from a convenience store to the home of his father’s girlfriend when Zimmerman began following him, because of what he described as “suspicious behavior”. Soon afterward, there was a confrontation which ended when Zimmerman fatally shot Martin.
Zimmerman described the incident to the police who arrived on the scene as self-defense and he was not arrested. The lead homicide investigator wanted him charged with manslaughter but the state attorney’s office said there was insufficient evidence for a conviction.
The circumstances around Martin’s death, and particularly Zimmerman’s freedom, have received national and international attention, and caused lots of controversy, with many demanding for Zimmerman’s arrest and President Barack Obama promising justice will be served.
Piers Morgan had on Thursday night interviewed Robert Zimmerman, the brother of Martin’s killer on his show. This however didn’t go down too well with many on social media, as it led to a fierce face off the following night: much of the opinion was that Morgan had asked too many soft-ball and poor follow-up questions.
Journalist and writer Toure’ joined Morgan on his show Friday night and ripped into him for choosing to interview Robert Zimmerman, pointing out that he hadn’t spoken to his brother, George, in several years.
“You became part of the problem by allowing Robert Zimmerman to come on your show and spread misinformation,” Toure’ said. “The number one problem with having him on the air is the two of them, George and Robert, haven’t spoken in years.”
Piers however defended the interview, saying he challenged the guest repeatedly.
“You’ve tried to portray me as an unprofessional journalist who, last night, didn’t challenge Robert Zimmerman,” Morgan said. “Anybody who watched that interview saw me challenge him repeatedly.”
The pair had previously traded insults over twitter, with Toure’ insinuating that Morgan was unqualified to speak on American issues, due to his British roots.
“You are too new to the situation to fully understand what’s going on here, and what’s really at stake for America,” Toure’ said.
“Piers did not challenge Robert Zimmerman the way a professional journalist should,” Toure’ tweeted.
Morgan had responded: “Oh Toure’, you’re such a tedious little twerp,” and then challenged the writer to come debate him on Tonight.
The interview lasted only under 15 minutes, but was more heated than a one hour presidential debate
“Again. Again. Toure’ calm down. I don’t wish to give you a lesson in how to be a professional journalist…,” Morgan said at one point, visibly frustrated. “If you let me finish. If you watch the interview back, you’ll see that I challenged him repeatedly as any professional journalist would do.”
Toure’, on the other hand, clearly wasn’t trying to playing fair, going so far as to brag that he and his colleagues at MSNBC had laughed at his interview with Robert Zimmerman.
Check out the video and all the action below: