MSNBC contributor and author Touré apologized late Saturday for losing sight of the big picture in a fiery interview with CNN's Piers Morgan about country's inflamed racial tensions in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting.
"I should not have gotten caught up in 'winning' the debate with Piers," Touré wrote on Twitter. "I got caught up with 'winning' on some masculine bravado bs when my whole point has always been justice for this boy. I lost sight of that."
In his heated exchange with Morgan on Friday, Touré slammed the CNN host for allowing Robert Zimmerman, the brother of Martin shooter George Zimmerman, to come on the air--and for not challenging him when he did.
"You know, at NBC, in the hallways, we were laughing at you today," Touré told Morgan. "We wouldn't take [Robert Zimmerman]. Standards and Practices at NBC wouldn't let him get through door. And you had him on the air and allowed the hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands or whatever number of people watch your show listen to what he had to say. And you aren't challenging him the way that you needed you to, the way that we needed you to, the way that other, more responsible journalists are doing."
After Morgan played clips from his interview with Robert Zimmerman, which aired Thursday, to prove he had, in fact, challenged the shooter's brother on several points--including that George Zimmerman said what sounds like "coon" on an audio tape--Touré protested: "You allowed him to sort of prevaricate and say, 'Well, maybe it was a different word.' You allowed him to talk about he's the most honest brother. How would that even be quantified? And why is that not challenged? You allowed him to say he was going to Target. It's not a neighborhood watch. What are you talking about?"
More via a transcript of the segment:
MORGAN: Toure, calm down. I don't wish to give you a lesson in how to be a professional journalist.
TOURE: Well, you couldn't do that.
MORGAN: Wait a minute. At no stage did I give any sense that I agreed with what he was saying. I challenged him repeatedly about many of the things that he was saying.
TOURE: What you understand as challenging, perhaps, maybe that goes in England. That's not what we do in terms of challenging in America.
I saw a person who was saying things that didn't ring true to me. And I would have liked to seen him pushed and challenged, more follow- up, more pushback. More research to understand what you're saying does not ring true, sir. And I --
MORGAN: Which part of this -- which part of this story do you think I'm not really aware of given I've covered it for a week now. I've interviewed Trayvon's parents, I've interviewed George Zimmerman's brother --
TOURE: A whole week. Wow.
MORGAN: Yes, I've been running this for a week. I'm interested to know which part of the story you don't think I'm fully aware of the facts about. Explain to me.
TOURE: Well, I mean -- the story that Robert Zimmerman wants to tell about this beating is -- cannot possibly be true. So, yes, you're pushing back lightly a little bit. Just a tiny little bit. But when we look at this videotape where he's walking to the police department, it's impossible that his story is true. So, at that point we can't give him a light push back. We have to give him a much tougher follow-up than that because this story--
MORGAN: Toure, that is where you are revealing yourself to not be a professional journalist because actually, from that video, you cannot see for a 100 percent fact that he has or has not broken his nose.
TOURE: You can see quite clearly that person's face is not puffy.
MORGAN: Allow me to finish. Allow me to finish.
TOURE: He's not had a bloody nose in the last 30 minutes. That's quite clear.
MORGAN: Allow me to finish. We do not know if it was cleared up. We don't know this information yet. We also know --
TOURE: You can't clear up a broken nose.
MORGAN: Allow me to finish a sentence, Toure. I also got Robert Zimmerman to say categorically that the medical records will substantiate the broken nose. That's a very revealing piece of information. I look forward to seeing them if they do.
TOURE: If it comes out.
Morgan was critical of a comment Toure made on Twitter--where the two had been trading barbs before their CNN interview--in which the author created "new slang" from the case: "You're Zimmermaning me equals you're killing me," Toure wrote March 19.
The discussion then devolved into a debate about Morgan's qualifications to cover a racially-charged case in the United States:
TOURE: I mean, you're showing you don't understand America because I was trying to do there --
MORGAN: No, no, I understand America very, very well, Toure.
TOURE: You might call it the blues, we might call black humor. Not African-American humor. But black humor. Dark humor. These are things that are common in America that sort of --
MORGAN: Dark humor.
TOURE: -- laugh to keep from crying. Once again another black person who is unarmed and innocent and not doing anything wrong has been killed. And this is incredibly painful and goes back before you were born and before your father was born and before my grandfather was born.
TOURE: So these are things that hurt as an American very deeply. And you are too new to this situation to fully understand what's really going on here and what's really at stake for America.
MORGAN: What a load of fatuous nonsense you speak, Toure, don't you? You think you have the only right to speak about what's serious in America. You think I don't have the right as somebody from Britain who spent the last six or seven years here to address the story like this with the seriousness it deserves with the responsibility.
TOURE: Six whole years. You have the right.
TOURE: You have the right. But you're showing us that you don't fully understand what's going on here.
MORGAN: What don't I understand? No, just deal with this. What don't I understand? What don't I understand about America?
TOURE: You're showing you clearly don't understand the depth of the pain in the American soul that is at play in this situation.
MORGAN: What a load of nonsense. Absolute nonsense.
"America needs its journalists to do their best for the good of the country now," Toure wrote on Twitter late Saturday. "[Because] the Trayvon situation has the capability to rip us apart."
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