Return to Transcripts main page


Dallas Cowboy's Deadly Car Crash; Interview with Charlie Crist

Aired December 10, 2012 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: There are five things America is talking about tonight. Number one, a fiery car crash. One Dallas Cowboys player arrested, another dead.


THERESA CLARK, GRANDMOTHER OF JERRY BROWN, JR.: It's something that you just don't want to believe. You think you're going to wake up out of a dream.


MORGAN: I'll talk to Jerry Brown's grieving family.

Number two, Bob Costas, what he says about the latest NFL tragedy and what he says now about his controversial halftime comments about guns.


BOB COSTAS, NBC SPORTS BROADCASTER: There is a gun culture in the National Football League.


MORGAN: Number three, can President Obama get his way in Washington?


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everybody says they agree with it. Let's get it done.


MORGAN: Number four, a daring rescue leads one Navy SEAL dead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to see a lot more of this. Mark my word, Piers.


MORGAN: And number five, a deadly deejay royal prank. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEL GREIG, 2DAYFM DJ: We're so sorry that this has happened to them.


MORGAN: I'll talk about all that and more with my guests in New York, Washington, and around the country.


Good evening. Our big story tonight. Another NFL tragedy, another grieving family. Teammates and fans left asking one question, why? Just a week after the Kansas City Chiefs Jovan Belcher killed the mother of his baby daughter and killed himself, a fiery car crash leaves one Dallas Cowboys player dead, another, his close friend, accused of driving drunk.

On Sunday, Josh Brent was released from jail with $500,000 bond one day after the Mercedes he was driving in a curb flipped over and burst into flames. Brent's teammate Jerry Brown, Jr. was killed. And police officers on the scene said they think alcohol was a contributing factor.

The Cowboys said to be numbed by the deadly crash played the Bengals on Saturday afternoon and won.

Listen to Cowboys' head coach Jason Garrett on ESPN after the game.


JASON GARRETT, DALLAS COWBOYS HEAD COACH: Josh and Jerry were really close. They were best friends. They spent an immense amount of time together, and they were close.


MORGAN: Joining me now is Jerry Brown's mother, Stacey Jackson, and his grandmother, Theresa Clark.

Welcome both to you. First, let me offer you my very deepest condolences on this devastating loss to you and your family.

It's every mother's nightmare, Stacey. How are you bearing up with this?

STACEY JACKSON, MOTHER OF JERRY BROWN JR.: My faith. Knowing that Jerry's in good hands now with God and the strong faith that I have, knowing that I'll see him again one day.

MORGAN: How did you hear the news?

JACKSON: The police officer was trying to locate me for four hours and finally got my telephone number from someone and called me while I was at work, which he didn't know I was at work. I just wanted him to tell me what was wrong. And he told me that my son was killed this -- Saturday morning, at 2:00 something in Dallas, Texas, in a car crash.

MORGAN: When you heard that alcohol may have played a contributing factor, were you angry? You obviously know the man who is accused of this well. He's been a friend of your late son for a very long time. How did you feel?

JACKSON: Well, I was upset, but I realized, you know, our youth today are young and stupid, and we was all once that age and we'd done things that we are not proud of. So I realize everyone thinks they're invincible and thinks that it's not going to happen to me. So because I know Josh Brent and he's been part of our family since Jerry went to the University of Illinois, that's all I can do is pray for him and his family because I know he's hurting just as well as we are, because him and Jerry was like brothers.

MORGAN: Theresa, Jerry was the oldest of 20 grandchildren. Very much, I understand, a role model for the family. Devastating for you, too. Describe to me your reaction to what happened.

CLARK: Well, Stacey called me Saturday morning after she had received the call from the police stating that Jerry was in a bad car accident and that he had passed away. So I told her everything is OK because he's in God's hands. Don't worry about him because he's all right. Then I hung up and then I called the rest of my family members to let them know that Jerry was in a very bad car accident and that he had passed away.

And yes, my feelings, my heart, every part of me aches because I knew the legacy that he was leaving for the rest of his cousins, because they were so proud of him that all of them are playing football. Not only did he work hard to become a football player, that was his dream since he was a little boy. That meant more to him than anything in the world. And that's why I praise God and thank him that he let my baby, which was a beautiful person, loving and caring.

Anybody that meets Jerry would be glad to have had him in their lives and a part of their lives. And that young man, Josh, I pray, I pray for him, too, because he has feelings, and he has -- he loved Jerry. They were the best of friends. I have no ill feelings toward him. I pray that everything will be well with him and his family. And to let him know that God will take care of him. He will bring him through. Because he was a beautiful friend. They were really friends.

MORGAN: He released a statement, Theresa, which I'm going to read, if I may. He said, "I'm devastated, I'm filled with grief, filled with grief for the loss of my close friend and teammate Jerry Brown. I'm also grief-stricken for his family, friends, and all who are blessed enough to have known him. I will live with this horrific and tragic loss every day for the rest of my life. My prayers with his family, our teammates, and his friends at this time."

Obviously a sincere statement there. Stacey, the last Facebook posting that Jerry left was on November 29th. And he wrote the following, that he was expecting a child and then he said, "How the fast life isn't as fun as it used to be after living it for so long."

When you look at the problems that so many footballers are having these days, it seems, do you believe that there is a cultural issue there that needs to be dealt with? That the behavior of the players off the pitch, perhaps, needs more concern?

JACKSON: We can say yes and then also I think -- I think it's the individual. Because yes, football life is a fast life. Because they're all right in the media. They're always out in the limelight. They're always around people, clubs, getting in free, doing this and doing that.

So I think it's the media -- I think it's with everybody in general and then also I think it's within the person, the individual.

MORGAN: And finally, Stacey, how would you like your son to be remembered? He obviously was a shining star. A young footballer who has been killed at his -- potentially heading toward his prime as a player. How would you like him as his mother to be remembered?

JACKSON: Well, I would like Jerry to be remembered as his faith in God and being the best of friends and just an all-out scholar. Just a good person. If you need a shoulder to lean on, he was always there. Unfortunately, his daughter, his soon-to-be daughter which will be born in February, won't get a chance to know her father, but she'll learn about him through us.

I just want them to remember him and to keep his daughters in their prayers, and just pray for her family and them.

MORGAN: Stacey and Theresa, again, my very sincere condolences to you both and thank you for joining me on a very difficult day for you and for your family.

JACKSON: Thank you very much for having me.

MORGAN: Who better to talk about all this than Bob Costas. He's of course the man who sparked controversy last week with his halftime comments on guns. And he's here with me to talk about this latest tragedy and more.

Bob, welcome to you.

COSTAS: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: First, your reaction there to Jerry Brown's family? It's another case involving bad behavior.


COSTAS: Bad behavior, but not directly linked or even -- it's tough to tangentially link it to what happened with Jovan Belcher but obviously it's a case of bad judgment.

MORGAN: I mean, I suppose the link is this. "USA Today" reported today that 624 arrests have been made on NFL players since the year 2000. A pretty staggering statistics.

COSTAS: Yes. I think they reported that as at least.

MORGAN: Right.

COSTAS: And obviously you can infer from that that some of bad behavior went on in cases where the player was not -- was lucky enough not to have been arrested. So it's actually more than 600.

MORGAN: Right. They're saying 28 percent involved alcohol- related crime, alleged crime, whatever the outcome of those cases was. In this case, you're right. They're not linked necessarily, guns and alcohol. What they are linked to possibly is what I just explore with you is the culture of the modern NFL football player.

Do you believe, and the reason perhaps it's most relevant here is, the cover of "TIME" magazine.

COSTAS: Right.

MORGAN: The enforcer, the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, facing all kinds of issues about the league.

COSTAS: Yes. The league is at a crossroads.

MORGAN: A crisis, would you say?

COSTAS: I don't know if it approaches crisis, perhaps it does but it's at a crossroads because there's an issue about the fundamental nature of the game. It's so popular and so profitable but it takes a tremendous toll on many of those who play it. Not just body, but as we're now learning, mind and emotions.

And it's a legitimate question to ask whether, for some players at least, the toll that the game takes, brain trauma, medications that they may take, enhance performance or deal with pain, all those things. The culture of the league increases the likelihood of abhorrent behavior. It's possible.

MORGAN: Seventeen percent or more footballers, apparently, carry guns. Clearly, most of them have a lot of money. They drive fast cars. They go to nightclubs. They party and all the rest of it. Again, I guess it comes back to an overriding sense that the culture of the game is slightly out of control. The statistics of arrest, for example, suggest that.


MORGAN: What can you really do about it?

COSTAS: I'm not sure what can be done about it exactly. The NFL prohibits the carrying of firearms at any facility, practice facility, any event that that's connected to the team, they make a public relations appearance in the stadium.

I don't know how closely they enforce that. They do prohibit it, and they do tell their players in their stated policy that while it is legal to possess a gun, we actually urge you not to. What we urge you if you do possess a gun that you use it strictly for protection of home and family or possibly if you're a hunter. That is an infinitely more likely that something bad will happen if you're armed than something good will happen.

MORGAN: Even as we sat down, a man was shot in broad daylight, literally, downstairs here at the CNN headquarters at Columbus Circle in Manhattan. Shot in the head, point blank range, in front of Christmas crowds. Huge crowds.

Just bringing me right home to where we are, this endemic, as many see it, of guns in America. And all this --

COSTAS: Well, that's what I was trying to get at last Sunday night. Do I believe that without impinging on what I take to be the spirit of the Second Amendment and the legitimate right to own a gun of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their family without impinging on that, we could easily tighten up the existing laws or expand the existing laws. Forty percent of all the firearms purchased in this country are purchased without a background check.

There is no federal ban on assault weapons like AK-47s or high capacity ammunition magazines or a 50-caliber sniper rifle which can literally pierce an airplane fuselage, or the side of an armored limousine. There's no purpose for anyone outside the police force and the military to have weapons like that. And while there are tight gun controls in some areas, it's ridiculously easy for someone to purchase a gun online or multiple guns or at a gun show and then those guns wind up in the hands of people in Washington, D.C. or New York which may have stricter gun controls but it's so easy to get around the gun controls.

You could literally be a felon, walk out of jail, and it would be very easy for you to purchase a weapon without any kind of a background check. You could be on a terrorist watch list, a no-fly lest, but you could still acquire a gun in this country.

George Zimmerman had an arrest record and he had a restraining order for domestic violence taken out against him in his past. Now that restraining order had expired. I'm not commenting on the exact whys and where fors that will play out in the court of law about what happened between him and Trayvon Martin, but what does common sense tell you about the likelihood of that confrontation ever taking place in the first place if George Zimmerman was not carrying a gun?

MORGAN: I couldn't agree more. Let's take a break. Come back and I want to get into why that kind of imminently sensible analysis is deemed so controversial in America and whether that's part of the problem.



PETER KING, REPORTER, NBC'S "FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA": Within the last seven days, at least seven players around the league have gone to their team's security officers to turn in the firearms that they possessed from their homes.

I'm also told that one of these players had multiple firearms as Jovan Belcher did, he had eight. And one of these players who had multiple firearms told his security officer, I don't trust myself with these guns in the house. Please take them away.


MORGAN: "Sports Illustrated's" Peter King on NBC's "Football Night in America" last night discussing guns and the impact last weekend's NFL's shooting is having on other players.

Back with now is NBC's sports commentator Bob Costas.

I mean, a fascinating development there.


MORGAN: Actually seeing players taking responsibility for their own possible lack of responsibility.

COSTAS: Well, yes, it wasn't my intent to become a spokesperson in any way for this issue. But if no matter how imperfectly I may have done it a week ago Sunday, if this has sparked a conversation and in some small way influenced people's behavior, so much the better.

Front page of the paper, not the sports section, front page of the weekend edition of the "USA Today" is about guns in the National Football League. There is a gun culture in the National Football League.

Jovan Belcher had eight guns. And for those who, by the way, say what if Kasandra Perkins had a gun, there were guns in that house. She'd have to have it holstered like he's wild Bill Hickock in the old west to have it at the ready when Jovan Belcher came barging through the door.

But nevertheless, Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens recently had to turn on his guns because of a legal action. Nine guns including shotguns and handguns and whatnot. Tank Johnson, a few years ago, from the bears, his were illegal, but he had a virtual munitions plant in his house in Chicago.

Now let's use common sense. When Tony Dungy says that when he asked 80 players at training camp -- former coach of the Colts, one of the many respected figures in the NFL. How many of you have a gun, and about 65 of them raise their hands, let's use common sense. Even if those guns were legally obtained, what do you think over time would be the ratio between unintended and tragic consequences, including accidents, but also including times when people just snapped and impulse got in the way, anger got in the way? The ratio of that as against the times that the gun would be used for a good outcome for legitimate self-defense. It's common sense to see where that's going to wind up.

MORGAN: Well, see, the argument I was getting thrown at me, and I -- yes, hands up, I come from a country with strict gun control. Very few gun murders here, 35 to 40 on average. We don't have the second amendment. We don't have a right to bear arms. And it's not my country in that sense, therefore And therefore I have absolute respect for the constitution.

What I find difficult is the way the pro-gun lobby, and I use that phrase quite deliberately. A certain type of pro-gun lobbyist twists my believe, this debate, in a very unhealthy way. They always say it's never the gun, it's always the person, with a clear indication that the people are evil and they perpetrate evil with guns.

Three stories that happened in the last four days. December 5th, a 4-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his younger brother in Minneapolis with his father's handgun in the home. December 6th, a 7- year-old finds his grandfather's gun -- this is in Philadelphia -- and shoots his sister. December 9th, a 7-year-old boy shot dead when his father's handgun went off in a parking lot of a Western Pennsylvania gun store.

These aren't evil people.


MORGAN: Perpetrating evil. These are kids.

COSTAS: And --

MORGAN: Who just happened to stumble across firearms.

COSTAS: And in fairness, there are also legitimate instances of self-defense, either a justifiable homicide or where the presence of a gun deterred someone who was up to no good. But you've got to consider in context, in the larger context, how many bad things happen because of an attitude toward guns in this country.

That's what I was trying to get at on that Sunday night. And my mistake was, and I've acknowledged this, normally, we have about two and a half minutes. That's tight enough. Here we had only 90 seconds. I thought it was self-evident that this was a domestic violence issue. What else would it be?

I alluded in a general way to the culture of football but didn't have time to enumerate it. But those who think that I was reluctant to hold the NFL to account, I'm not familiar with my work. Because almost alone among network sports broadcasters, I have made many points about the culture of the NFL, asked many questions of Roger Goodell and NFL officials, and continue to -- plan to do so in the future. Are drugs involved, alcohol involved? Yes, all those things. But guns are among them. It seems that some people want it to be about everything and anything but guns. I don't think it's only about guns, but I think that guns, even if legally obtained, people's attitudes toward guns are definitely a part of this problem.

Could Jovan Belcher -- as people have noted, this is obvious. Could he have stabbed her? Yes, I knew O.J. Simpson. Could he have strangled her or thrown her out the window? Yes, but the presence of a gun makes it much more likely that something like this will occur. Much more likely.

MORGAN: What I find also quite disturbing is that I think a lot of it is driven by fear. And you'll see in a moment the Aurora shooting happened, for example. Worst single shooting into an American history. You'll see immediately out come the pro-gun lobby again, saying if everyone in the movie theater --


MORGAN: -- had been armed, he wouldn't ever have done what he did. And to me, it's such a facile argument.

COSTAS: It would be comical if it weren't so tragic. You're in a darkened theater. People start firing willy-nilly. They can't know for sure who the good guys and the bad guys are. Think of the Empire State Building incident here a few month ago where some deranged guy goes in to take vengeance on some former co-workers. He kills some of them. The police show up.

These are highly trained people with firearms. They eventually shoot and kill this guy, but nine innocent bystanders are hit in the crossfire. This stuff doesn't always play itself out like a movie.

MORGAN: But it's dangerous, I think, both, because in that case, in the following month, the 44 percent spike in gun sales in Colorado because people bought in mentally to this.

COSTAS: Yes. And you can understand --

MORGAN: Thing they're saying, if you'd all been armed.

COSTAS: Sure. You can understand, by the way --

MORGAN: You'd be OK.

COSTAS: -- why someone feels a sense of comfort and peace if they have a firearm. They can protect themselves at least theoretically. No one is saying, at least I'm not saying and most people I know, aren't saying that you shouldn't be able, if you're a law-abiding citizen, if you pass a background check, if you take a gun safety course, and in fairness to the NRA, they're big on that.

If you take a gun safety course, if you meet all those requirements, that you ought to be able to have a gun in your home for protection. Perhaps under certain circumstances, you ought to be able to carry a gun, all those things are fine, but there's a whole range of stuff that falls outside that definition that puts us in far more peril than it is likely to protect our safety.

Consider the circumstance of Aurora. Since nobody knew for sure that a guy dressed like the Joker was going to come in and start spraying bullets everywhere. In order for those in the theater to be armed and ready to respond, it follows that they have to be armed at almost all times. So that means you'd have a bunch of people walking around in the supermarket, at the Starbucks, walking their dog, taking their kids to the park, all armed.

Over the course of a year, how often do you think that would lead to tragedy and how often do you think it would lead to safety? That's my question.


MORGAN: That might be often than pure accident, these three stories I read.

President Obama has flirted in his career with banning assault weapons. He's got a second term. And he's not going to face re- election. Is it time for him to show some proper moral leadership here, do you think, and actually do something or try and do something?

COSTAS: Again, I'm not positioning myself as an expert, but as a private citizen, I would like to see him do that, yes. I would like to see him do that. I think that people on both sides of the aisle cower before the gun lobby. The gun lobby has some legitimate points, but the laws that govern us and the steps we take ought to be geared toward the larger public good.

There are obviously some people out there who have some apocalyptic vision that the federal government is going to lean toward tyranny and they're going to be holed up somewhere with their own munitions plant and they're going to resist it.

I don't think people with that mindset ought to be having an undue influence on our national policy.

MORGAN: Bob Costas, thank you so much for coming in. I find that a brilliant analysis.

COSTAS: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: On what is a huge issue to me.

Bob Costas.

Coming up, had the GOP gone too far to the right? A former top Republican on why he's joined the Democrats. Florida's Charlie Crist joins me next.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHARLIE CRIST, FORMER GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan just aren't up to the task. They're beholden to the my way or the highway bullies, indebted to billionaires who bank roll their ads, and allergic to the very idea of compromise.


MORGAN: Former Florida governor, Charlie Crist, with some tough talk at the DNC about Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

As governor, Crist was a Republican leader but over the weekend he switched parties officially becoming a Democrat. And Charlie Crist joins me now.

Welcome to you.

FORMER GOV. CHARLIE CRIST, FLORIDA: It's good to be with you, Piers. Thank you for having me.

MORGAN: So you were a Republican. You morphed into an independent. Now you're officially a Democrat. Tell me about your journey and why you have ended up now in President Obama's camp?

CRIST: Well, the reason that, as I said at the convention, I didn't leave the Republican party. The Republican party left me. What I mean by that is issue after issue, they seem to get more strident and more difficult, if you will, less tolerant, less welcoming, whether it was immigration or education or voter suppression that we saw recently.

Each and every one of these issues really was counter to my values, that my mother and father raised me on and the kind of ethic that I believe in, that we should be a tolerant people, a welcoming people, and try to have a big tent as a party rather than try to shrink things.

And the Republican leadership -- I really don't think the Republicans. My mom and dad still happen to be Republicans. But I think the leadership of the party today has moved in a direction that even Jeb Bush said not long ago, that probably it would be difficult for Ronald Reagan to succeed in today's Republican party.

MORGAN: What do you parents make of your defection?

CRIST: They're happy about it. My father is the son of a Greek immigrant. My mother's family immigrated from Ireland. And we are a nation of immigrants, as you know, you being one, I assume. And because of that, I think the tolerance that we should have as a nation doesn't stand for deportation. And in education, it doesn't stand for lessening the funding of public education.

And when it comes to voter suppression, it doesn't stand for denying people the right to vote. They should have that opportunity. They should be able to exercise it. They should not have to stand in long lines. And Republican officials across the country made it hard for people to vote. But God bless the people, especially here in Florida, Piers. They were willing to stand in line even after the results of the election were known. They still stayed in line and wanted to cast their ballot.

MORGAN: It was pretty extraordinary to watch that, I must say, and a great tribute to Americans and their belief in the voting system and the power of their own individual vote. Newt Gingrich says that if Hillary Clinton runs in 2016, there's no GOP candidate whose name has been mentioned who could possibly beat here. Would you agree with that?

CRIST: She would be extremely formidable. I think that Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job as secretary of state. She served very admirably in the United States Senate for the state of New York, has a wonderful partner in President Bill Clinton, who I had the pleasure of campaigning with here in Florid and other states I campaigned for President Obama.

But I think that Hillary Clinton would be a extraordinary candidate. And I think she would do very, very well.

MORGAN: Turning to the fiscal cliff; 22 days to go until this self-created cliff really may or may not happen. A lot of very disgruntled people about the way that politicians in Washington have dealt with this, believing it's just a game to them, whereas to other people, it's a very serious business. And indeed, the world is watching with genuine alarm that if this does happen, it could have catastrophic effects on global markets.

What is your view? And what needs to be done to get a deal, do you think?

CRIST: Well, you couldn't have said it better. I think that the world is watching. There's no question about that. And I think it's incredibly important that a deal is reached. I'm an optimist, Piers. I believe that a deal will be reached.

I have had the opportunity to get to know President Obama. I think he is a wonderful leader. And I think he leads with grace, which is most important for a situation like this, where you have mutual respect. And as you know, the main partners are himself and Speaker Boehner.

I think the fact that they met yesterday is a very encouraging sign. I have faith that they will be able to get this done. And I know it's the right thing for America to reach a deal, to work together, to be willing to compromise, and do what is right for the people instead of a party first. That's what America wants.

MORGAN: Governor, thank you very much for your time. I appreciate it.

CRIST: Piers, my pleasure. Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming up next, the story that America is talking about. More on the NFL tragedy. Plus, the latest on a Navy SEAL killed during a daring rescue in Afghanistan. A powerhouse panel to tackle that and more.


MORGAN: Battleground America tonight; tragedy in the NFL, the battle over guns and more. Joining me to talk about all this, best selling author Brad Thor, James Fallows, "Atlantic Magazine" national correspondent, Gary Vaynerchuk, author of "The Thank You Economy," and Kristen Soltis, Republican pollster and vice president of the Winston Group. Welcome to you all.

Let's start, Brad Thor, if I may, with you, because I had a riveting interview with Bob Costas earlier, outlining really why he believes the time has come for America to have tighter gun restrictions. I know you have strong views on this. But tell me why an average American who lives in an average home needs to have access potentially to an assault rifle.

BRAD THOR, BEST SELLING AUTHOR: Well, it's in our Constitution. It's in our bill of rights. We have a Second Amendment that allows us to defend ourselves. It's not only defense, but it's also, as Ice Tea so eloquently stated -- it is to defend ourselves ultimately against a tyrannical government, if that ever happens.

I mean, the difference between liberty and tyranny is that if you have a government that is afraid of its people, you have liberty. If you have a people afraid of their government, you have tyranny. It's that simple.

MORGAN: But do you actually believe that? Do you actually that you're all going to rise up one day against a tyrannical presidency in your own country?

THOR: I would be the first one out there leading the people of this country against a tyrannical government. We have three boxes in this country, Piers. We have the ballot box. We have the soap box. And then we have the bullet box, if it's necessary. I think the government needs to be afraid of its people. Then it will serve the people of this great republic.

MORGAN: James Fallows, what is your view of that?

JAMES FALLOWS, "THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE": Well, I guess I approach this on two levels. On the merits of what the Second Amendment is and is not for, I would have a different view of its historical purpose. It was -- the framing of the Second Amendment talks about the well regulated militia being indispensable to democracy. So we would probably disagree fairly deeply there.

As a matter of political reality, however, I have come to believe after living around a lot of the world that this situation is really not going to change in the United States. In Australia, for example, after the Port Arthur Massacre in Tasmania, a very conservative prime ministership of John Howard had very sweeping gun controls.

My view is that simply is not going to happen in the United States because so many people feel the way Mr. Thor does. It just is not something that a politician of either party will embrace now.

MORGAN: Kristen Soltis, why wouldn't they embrace it, given that there are over 300 million guns in America? There was a shooting just this afternoon, at Columbus Circle, 200 yards from this studio, an execution style hit. Most people in the office really didn't seem that bothered by it. It wasn't that shocking.

In Britain, it would be like the biggest story for a week. There's just such an endemic gun culture here that almost no outrage now seems to even register with people.

KRISTEN SOLTIS, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: It's unfortunate that when some kind of tragedy happens, it's the sort of thing where if it's a particularly high-profile tragedy, like the horrible things you saw happen in Aurora, Colorado, during the first night of the "Dark Knight Rises," people talk about it a lot and then the story sort of fades away.

But you have not seen a lot of political will on either side of the aisle toward actually changing the laws around guns. I think the point that Bob Costas has made in his remarks since his initial Sunday night football discussion of guns is that there's the cultural issue in terms of people seeing guns as a solution to problems that often causes more problems.

But I don't know that there's a legislative solution that either party wants to put in place to change people's legal access to guns. I think it's much more how people culturally view guns that will need to shift in order to prevent tragedies.

MORGAN: Gary Vaynerchuk, I totally respect an Americans' belief that they have a right to bear an arm to defend themselves in their home. What I don't understand is why they would want to have a cultural, a system that allows you to arm yourself to the teeth with AK-47s, with thousands of rounds of ammunition, do what that guy did in Aurora, Colorado. I don't get that part of the interpretation of the Second Amendment.

GARY VAYNERCHUK, AUTHOR, "THE THANK YOU ECONOMY": You know, I have been watching you rant on this subject for the last couple weeks, months. You know, I'm in that same camp.

MORGAN: I rant because I'm shocked. I'm shocked that there's no serious debate. But I'm shocked that Bob Costas can stick his head over the parapet and make eminently sensible comments. He's not after a ban on all guns. He gets slaughtered for it. I don't get it.

VAYNERCHUK: Piers, I think what's happening is we're -- in this time and period in this country where we're so pushed to the outer edges, I think Kristen is right. We're in an ADD culture. Even high- profile assassination feels like something that might just be a seven to 10 day event. That's when you get into these things where we don't have these moments like we had in the '50s,' 60s, and '70s where culturally something could change. Or a Len Bias situation with drugs in the U.S. in the '80s. I'm not sure we're there anymore. MORGAN: I remember coming to New York when Central Park was an absolute seething den of drugs and violence. Now you can walk through there almost any time of day or night in almost perfect safety. And the reason was they had just zero tolerance. They came. Successive mayors went after them. I don't see the political will in America to do anything about the proliferation of guns.

VAYNERCHUK: I think the core problem is the answer is always somewhere in the middle. Right now, we're just so pulled apart on each edge.

MORGAN: Let's take a break, come back and talk about the fiscal cliff, talking of ridiculous situations. I want to get your views on that, and on the latest on the deadly royal prank tragedy, a tearful apology.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we had any idea that something like this could have be even possible to happen -- you know, we couldn't see this happening. It was meant to be a prank call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's nothing more than a tragic turn of events that no one could have predicted. And you know, for the part we played in it, we're obviously -- we're incredibly sorry.


MORGAN: Two Australian DJs apologize for the royal prank call that came a few days before a nurse killed herself. Back with my panel, Brad Thor, James Fallows, Gary Vaynerchuk and Kristen Soltis.

James Fallows, a fascinating case this. Still we don't quite know, I don't think, enough of the real hard facts here to determine who or who isn't to blame. That was certainly a very sincere, I felt, and very heartfelt apology. Your heart does go out, obviously, first to the family of the woman who took her life. I think secondly to the royal couple, who -- clearly, it's a very distressing thing to have happened that involved them at a difficult stage of a pregnancy.

But you also -- you would have to have a very hard heart, I think, not to feel some sympathy for these two DJs who clearly just thought they were having a bit of fun.

FALLOWS: I agree. I think this actually is an interesting contrast to the discussion that we were just having about gun control, where we have all asserted from different perspectives that, no matter what degree of shooting tragedies occur in the United States, it's not really going to change the policy in the foreseeable future.

In this case, it's one of those episodes in popular culture where you have a sense of things unintentionally going too far, and then tragedies were, of course the woman who killed herself and the family, and DJs had no idea what they were doing. And at moments like this in pop culture, it is possible I think to have some movement the other way, of people being reflective about what they're doing, how they're doing it, and who might get hurt in the process.

MORGAN: Kristen Soltis, it's something that everyone is talking about it. There's no question of that. And I think people are genuinely confused about what they should be thinking now. What do you think?

SOLTIS: I agree. For me, first of all, I have to believe that there's something else going on in this woman's life. This prank was obviously horrible. But I can't even imagine what can't imagine what kind of personal turmoil you have to be going through in order to -- she was a wife. She had children -- to take your own life. I mean, I have -- it's just such an immense tragedy that there's almost nothing more to be said about it.

But I also agree in the sense that -- with your concern for the DJs, in that, you know, I can't imagine feeling responsible for that and feeling the weight of that guilt throughout the rest of your life, that you are responsible for something like this.

MORGAN: Gary, you are a social media king. It blew up on Twitter. It stayed blowing up ever since, and Facebook. And people sort of hanging, drawing and quartering these DJs. There's almost a sense I'm getting that the vilification and demand for retribution on them and the pressure being heaped on them could lead to another tragedy like the one we have just seen, which would be a hideous irony of what is going on.

VAYNERCHUK: This is a classic lose-lose-lose situation, right? Everybody involved losing. And when I think of social media -- we have talked about this in the past. I'm obsessed with context, not just content. I think a lot of people have consumed the content of the headline. And without all the other context pieces are jumping to judgment. That's just the world we live in. But this is just a sad situation.

MORGAN: It is. Let's move on to something that's in your world, Brad Thor. A Navy SEAL Team Six member was killed during mission to rescue an American doctor over the weekend. What do you know about that? And what does it tell you about the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan?

THOR: Well, first of all, we don't know how the SEAL was killed. We know that the SEAL was injured in the operation and as a result those injuries, died afterwards.

Listen, this is the new norm in Afghanistan. They know we're leaving. From what I've heard, this was not a particularly sophisticated kidnapping. This was kind of a lower level operation, based on what I've been hearing so far. And it's still early in this.

But we're going to see a lot more of this, mark my words, Piers. This is the new normal in Afghanistan. And these NGOs, they are really taking their lives in their hands. and we as American citizens need to say, I'm a big rescue, rescue, rescue guy -- but if these NGOs are going to go out into very bad territory -- and I have been there. It's bad.

If they are going to go out without security, what are we going to do about it? SEALS in every time? I don't know.

MORGAN: James Fallows, the movie "Zero Dark 30" about Bin Laden's capture and death is coming out soon. My wife saw a screening of it, said it's absolutely gripping, terrifying. People were shouting out at the media, screaming at the horror at some of the torture scenes. But in the end, obviously it's dramatic, bin Laden's death.

Historically when we look back on this period, notwithstanding the death of bin Laden, do you think that the conflict in Afghanistan will be seen as anything but a rather miserable failure in the end?

FALLOWS: I think it will be -- actually, it will be interestingly and maybe more positively paired with the war in Iraq, the war in Iraq being an entirely discretionary war that the U.S. undertook on the basis of incorrect information. I think the war in Afghanistan, it was undertaken for entire -- for almost noncontroversial reasons within the United States. It was direct retribution for the attacks of 9/11, because that's where the Taliban and al Qaeda was at the time.

I think the debate will be did the U.S. get distracted from Afghanistan by the Iraq venture? And was there any other way to wind it up than the one we have? It's interesting, during the political -- the presidential campaign just concluded. There was so little debate about this because there's so little appetite on either side of the political divide to stay there longer, to increase the bet.

So I think it will be seen as a sadly concluded affair. But we got in to it for understandable reasons.

MORGAN: Quick question for you, Kristen, about something else, on the fiscal cliff. Christine Lagarde predicted a sharp drop in confidence and zero U.S. economic growth if there's no agreement on this fiscal cliff, and indeed a ripple effect in the Eurozone and elsewhere. Do you think the politicians understand the kind of seriousness of the game that they're playing at the moment?

SOLTIS: I think that they do. And I think a very good sign is you'll notice in the last day or two, you haven't been hearing as much come out of either members of Congress or the White House. President Obama right now is I think on the road in Detroit. Gave a speech today about the economy.

But you're seeing a little bit less of the sort of back and forth we saw a week ago, where you had Tim Geithner putting out one plan, you had Republicans publicly releasing a letter.

I think negotiations of this kind are going to be best if they are happening without a lot of the public political posturing. I think that's the direction you have seen things go in the last few days. So I'm hoping that's a good sign for things, that it's a sign that it's being taken seriously.

MORGAN: I hope you're right. Because it is getting very childish, I think. Finally for you, Gary, this ongoing battle that's blowing up between Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and so on -- you have all the big guys all gunning for each other. What is really going on here? And how will it play out?

VAYNERCHUK: Let's go prop on you. This is the single most important thing. This is the thing that we're most attached to. And the pictures within it are enormous. This Instagram/Twitter battle is high stakes, big dollars. Instagram is really exploding. We've talked about in the past on this show.

I think this is a really humongous, uber battle, in fact. And I think that Twitter releasing filters and Instagram making Instagram photos broken inside of Twitter is big stakes to show you what's to come next year in the Facebook/Twitter/Google/Apple wars -- Amazon throw in there. Those five companies are going to start really claiming stakes.

MORGAN: Who's going to be top dog in the end, do you think?

VAYNERCHUK: That's tough. You know, whoever has the end consumer wins. I think Google is being under appreciated because they're not winning with Google Plus. I think Apple -- they're starting to -- I'm stunned to see how many 15, 16, 17-year-olds are running around with Android phones. That's catching my attention.

I don't make those kind of predictions. I tend to look at the reality and respond to it, instead of trying to play Nostradamus card. But I would say Google is the one that's probably being most under appreciated.

MORGAN: Gary Vaynerchuk, Kristen Soltis, James Fallows and Brad Thor, thank you all very much, indeed.

And we'll be right back.


MORGAN: Tomorrow, my exclusive interview with the senators known as the Three Amigos; John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham have been at the center of every foreign policy debate in this country for over a decade. Now they're sitting down with me on Capitol Hill for what promises to be a fascinating and lively hour. From the battle over Benghazi to the political upheaval in Egypt to civil war in Syria, and America's place in the world, everything will be no the table.

That's John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham tomorrow night. That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now. .