Since liberal producer Aaron Sorkin's HBO series The Newsroom made waves a couple of weeks ago with its infamous speech asserting that America is "not the greatest country in the world anymore," CNN host Piers Morgan has repeatedly brought up this charge with guests on his Piers Morgan Tonight show.
Morgan, who so far has not brought up the speech with any clearly conservative guest who might disagree with the premise, first raised the issue on the Wednesday, June 20, show with guest Billy Corgan of the rock group, the Smashing Pumpkins. Morgan:
I saw the premiere of Aaron Sorkin's new drama, Newsroom, which is based around a cable news show like this, starring Jeff Daniels. I watched it last night. And at the start, Jeff Daniels's character makes this kind of polemic speech to a bunch of students. And the point he makes - he's asked about what he thinks of America. He says that it's completely wrong to say America is still the greatest country in the world. It used to be. And it can be again.
But actually statistically, if you look at all the criteria, education, science, literacy, etc., etc., America is lagging way behind now many countries. What do you think?
A couple of days later, on Friday, July 22, as Sorkin and The Newsroom's Jeff Daniels appeared together as guests, the CNN host asked Daniels about the quote he had to deliver on the show. Morgan:
It was fascinating watching the room reaction, all these hard-edged news men, a lot of them sort of nodding along with that because it was a great speech and a classic - if you don't mind me saying - Sorkinism at its very best because it really made you think because you rattled off all these statistics about where America is not number one anymore, and made the point it used to be a great country, and it could be a great country again, but right now, it's not the greatest country in the world.
Let me ask you a difficult question: When you said it, did you believe it yourself?
On Monday, July 2, during an interview with Glenn Frey of the band, the Eagles, the CNN host brought up the issue of "American excess" as the two discussed the meaning of the Eagles song, Hotel California:
I always took it to mean a kind of a monument to American excess, not necessarily in a completely negative way, but just a monument to excess. When you look at modern America, and the way America has developed since you wrote the song, what do you think of what's going on now in America? In terms of, have people taken excess too far, do you think?
Morgan then brought up the speech from Sorkin's The Newsroom as he followed up:
An interesting debate was sparked - I had Aaron Sorkin and Jeff Daniels on here and this new HBO show, Newsroom, based on a show like this - and there's a whole debate that was sparked by the big speech at the start of the first episode in which Jeff Daniels's character gets angry about America.
And the key point he was making was that too many Americans still believe that America is the greatest country on Earth when, statistically, in many, many key areas - science, education and so on - it isn't anymore. There's a lack of awareness of that. Like all things in denial, until you deal with the denial and accept reality, you can't get better again. Do you think there's merit to that?
And on Tuesday, July 3, with liberal actor Billy Baldwin as a guest, Morgan raised the issue again:
PIERS MORGAN: There's this ongoing debate now, triggered by Aaron Sorkin's show, Newsroom, about whether America has the right to call itself the greatest country in the world statistically, just based on some of the figures you just said, what do you think?
BILLY BALDWIN: I think we have to be careful because there was a time where, you know, Paris and France were at the forefront of everything culturally and politically, and then it was replaced by London and England, and that was replaced by New York and America, and we better watch out or it's gonna be Beijing and China. And we may look back 50 years from now and say, in 2012, it already was Beijing and China, we just weren't aware of it until 20 years after the fact. And by that time, it's gonna be too late, so I think when it comes to R and D, you know, and technology and education and infrastructure and reinvestment, I think we have to be very, very careful, or we're about to be replaced.
On the night after seeming oblivious when Michele Bachmann explained the difference in principle between pushing all Americans to purchase health insurance versus pushing only the portion of Americans who make the choice to drive to buy car insurance, CNN host Piers Morgan again brought up the comparison on Tuesday's Piers Morgan Tonight as he hosted liberal actor Billy Baldwin as a guest.
As Morgan mentioned that he had raised the subject previously with Bachmann, he failed to give any acknowledgement that the Minnesota Republican had articulated an argument as to the difference between the two as he again pushed the notion that there is little distinction in a goverment mandate regarding one type of insurance and the other.
On Tuesday's show, Morgan posed:
What do you make of the health care debate that's been raging? I had Michele Bachmann on last night, and I put it to her that, in terms of ideology of the argument here, what is the difference really for most Americans between being made to have car insurance and being made to have health insurance?
On Monday's show, the CNN host did not seem to be paying attention when he followed up his question on insurance by asking Rep. Bachmann a question she had already answered:
PIERS MORGAN: Do you have car insurance?
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN): Yes, I do.
MORGAN: Who told you to?
BACHMANN: I have car insurance because I have an investment in my car and I want to make sure that I can hold onto that investment. But car insurance is a very different thing from health insurance because no one is forced to buy a car if they don't want to, but here, in the case of ObamaCare, every American is forced to buy a health insurance policy just because they breathe.
MORGAN: Yeah, but hang on a minute. Let me jump in. You just hit the nail on the head. You talked about buying health insurance. You have to buy car insurance. If you want to drive a car in America, you have to buy insurance or you will be driving illegally, you will be fined, and if you keep defying it, you'll be put in jail.
What is the difference ideologically to a Republican like you that is so opposed to this, what is the difference between Americans being forced by law to have insurance to drive a car and being forced by law to have insurance for their health?
BACHMANN: Well, I said it in the beginning of my remarks. No one is forced to buy a car. You don't have to buy a car. But if you buy a car, you need to be responsible and buy health [MEANT "CAR"] insurance.