On the one-year anniversary of his prime-time CNN show, Piers Morgan hosted lesbian and 9/11 conspiracy-theorist Rosie O'Donnell. The two teamed up to bash some Republicans for their "anti-gay" remarks, but Morgan never pressed O'Donnell about her past endorsements of 9/11 "truther" conspiracies.
O'Donnell slammed America as a "backward nation in many ways" after being egged on by her interviewer on the topic of homosexuality. Morgan had branded certain GOP presidential candidates as "anti-homosexuals" and expressed his dismay at "the virulence of their rhetoric."
Morgan also celebrated the rising number of states that have legalized same-sex marriage, comparing such events with the election of Obama. "These are big, big moments for America, aren't they?" he touted. "In the same way that Barack Obama became the first black president."
The CNN host never seriously tried to provide the conservative side of the debate on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. The closest he got was acknowledging that Republicans have a conservative base to please – before adding that they could not get away with such anti-gay statements in Europe.
"But I was still quite taken aback," he said of GOP statements against homosexual behavior. "Because it's – there aren't many countries actually, certainly not in Europe, where a politician could say those kind of things and get away with it."
A transcript of the segment, which aired on January 17 at 9:06 p.m. EST, is as follows:
MORGAN: Even now, is having a lesbian relationship, is it – does it lead to constant conflict on a daily basis? I mean do you always – are you always aware of an element disapproving of you? Do you feel defensive more than you would normally?
O'DONNELL: Not for me, I don't think. But when I see the presidential candidates using it as a platform, I am kind of stunned. Right? That hurts in a way I think that the politicians don't really realize. So I don't feel it personally because many people in the country, probably all the people in the country, know that I'm gay. When I came out, it was in such a large way that it's not as though ever people are surprised.
MORGAN: So it is a weird thing. You've mentioned politics there. In Britain, my home country overseas, no politician right or left would ever come out with anti-gay comments.
MORGAN: Here in this election race, quite a few of the Republicans at various stages have been transparently, you know, anti-homosexuals.
O'DONNELL: Yes. And the three top ones are no longer in the race, right?
MORGAN: Yeah, it's interesting to me that they're not.
MORGAN: I was quite shocked by the kind of virulence of their rhetoric.
MORGAN: That today that could still happen.
O'DONNELL: I agree.
MORGAN: Even in a country where, I guess they're doing it because they believe a lot of their core conservative vote would want them to say that. But I was still quite taken aback. Because it's - there aren't many countries actually, certainly not in Europe, where a politician could say those kind of things and get away with it.
O'DONNELL: Yeah, well, we're a backward nation in many ways. And that's one of the ways that's most evident, I think, nowadays especially with the election. To think that you can turn on the presidential debate and you can have people actually say that they think that being gay is wrong is shocking in 2012. It's shocking to me.
O'DONNELL: Especially that Rick Perry ad the weekend – that was the day after the Rick Perry ad ran, and I remember being home that weekend, and having just announced that we were engaged and being around Chicago, and getting this overwhelming support from everyone. And then watching this ad of this man who basically said, well, I just don't believe that you people have the same rights as other people in this country.
And that's not what America was founded on. And it was hurtful and shocking. And, you know, in the wake of all these teen suicides and gay bullying, and – I just don't understand why politicians or anyone thinks they can get away with that.
MORGAN: I instinctively feel that despite the rhetoric of some of these politicians, they're actually – since I've been in America, for example, New York has now sanctioned same-sex marriage.
MORGAN: And joining a number of other states. These are big, big moments for America, aren't they? In the same way that Barack Obama became the first black president.
MORGAN: Do you think mythology builds up about certain celebrities?
O'DONNELL: Yes, I do. I think that – I don't know. I haven't seen it, is all I can say. And also I know that there are some people in my life who are not famous who have a very hard time dealing with their sexuality internally. Whether or not that's religion that they were raised in that they would choose to have a life that is non-consistent with their feelings because they feel it's easier than living the ridicule and/or the shame that comes from national politicians, from the Catholic Church, from some elements of society, to tell you you are less worthy. That's a hard thing to take on.
- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center