Michael Moore got into a heated debate with Piers Morgan about CNN's coverage of Hurricane Sandy during an appearance on Morgan's Wednesday show.
The debate centered around Ali Velshi, whose reporting from what appeared to be the most dangerous block in Atlantic City has become a symbol for all of the perennial controversies about television's coverage of hurricanes.
Moore told Morgan that Velshi's battle with the weather had added little.
"We need fewer of the reporters standing in waist-high water seeing if they're going to be blown over and more real reporting, real news, like what's really going on," he said.
"I don't agree with you," Morgan replied. He said that Velshi was on the street to dissuade anyone "mad enough to think they should be going out" from doing so.
"It's a dramatic image that fully tells the story of how big this is and how dangerous it is," Morgan said. "If he saves one life, isn't it worth it?"
"Well, there's a lot of things that you could do on CNN to save many lives, but we could do that on another show," Moore said. He wondered why it had taken hours for the network to cover the horrible fires in Breezy Point, Queens. Morgan said there was so much going on that they hadn't heard about it, but that they had covered it as soon as they got word.
"You've got to take it into the context of everything else that was going on in New York," Morgan said.
"My point is that everything else that was going on was putting a lot of reporters in three feet of water and seeing how far they blow, and that is not news," Moore said.
"When a fourteen foot surge comes over the water in Lower Manhattan--" Morgan started to say.
"All you need of that is one shot -- 'Here it comes! Whoa!'" Moore replied. "Why do you kep going back to Ali Velshi in Atlantic City hour after hour after hour with him being blown around by the wind?"
"You can be cynical about it, but I will defend Ali," Morgan said, "and also I would defend CNN that has been bringing the news as fast as we can get it."
Later, Velshi called in to explain himself. "CNN didn't instruct me to be anywhere," he told Moore. "This is not our first rodeo."
"I just felt so bad for you," Moore said. Referring to Velshi's day job as a business reporter, he added, "What I really want to know this week is, what's on those tax returns that Mitt Romney won't show us?"
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