Todd Akin's empty chair is a CNN star

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Piers Morgan put an empty chair on the air Monday night after U.S. Rep. Todd Akin canceled an interview at the last minute, Dylan Stableford writes:

"Congressman, you have an open invitation to join me in that chair whenever you feel up to it," Morgan said. "Because if you don't keep your promise to appear on the show, then you are, what we would call in Britain, a gutless little twerp."

The stunt earned Morgan more heat than many of his actual guests and inspired at least two parody Twitter accounts, @AkinEmptyChair and @ChairMcCaskill.

"It's been a funny old day," Morgan said on the show, because Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill -- who Akin is challenging for U.S. Senate seat -- had already bowed out of that night's broadcast before the show managed to book Akin. Brian Stelter writes about how that coup went south. Akin "came under immediate pressure from Republican campaign officials to back out of the interview booking," an anonymous CNN staffer told him.

Around 8:30 p.m., [executive producer Jonathan] Wald decided that he would put the empty chair on screen if Mr. Akin was a no-show. There was still a possibility, he thought, that the candidate would call in by phone — but no.

According to Mr. Morgan’s statement on his program, it was Rex Elsass, a political consultant to Mr. Akin, who “pulled the interview at the last possible moment.”

CNN's Richard Allen Greene reported on some of the reaction online, not sparing his network:

But not everyone was a fan of the stunt, with Greg Pollowitz of the right-wing National Review tweeting: "I think the empty chair is out-debating Piers Morgan."

Morgan's show joined Instagram Monday. So far its only photo is of the empty chair.

Related: Politico’s Dave Catanese is no longer covering Akin controversy after defending ‘legitimate rape’ comment | CNN Worldwide President Jim Walton quits after network drops to record low ratings

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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