On MSNBC’s Last Word Monday night, host Lawrence O’Donnell planned a one-on-one interview with Craig Sonner, the lawyer representing George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin shooting case. But instead of seeing the lawyer sitting in the cable network’s remote studio, viewers saw a microphone draped over an empty chair. Sonner was gone. And while O’Donnell explained that the lawyer wouldn’t have gotten off easy from the interview, Sonner would have an even more difficult time recovering from his “cowardly” act.
Seeming mere decibels from outright shouting, O’Donnell railed against Sonner’s spontaneous departure: “He has left that chair empty, run out of our studio, refused to come on our show just minutes ago when he decided this would be too tough for him.”
Rather than waste his contentious questions, though, O’Donnell simply posed them to the empty chair sitting in the remote Florida studio. And as expected, he received no response. But the host carried on, intensely asking a number of questions that Sonner likely could have answered with ease: “Who is paying you? Who hired you?” and “Does George Zimmerman have a job? Does he have any property?”
Sonner has been no stranger to interviews over the past week, making an exhausting run around the media circuit to attempt to clear George Zimmerman’s name in the shooting of the unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last month in an Orlando subdivision. Sonner said on the Today show on Monday that Zimmerman was “acting in self-defense” and told CNN on Friday that it was “not an issue of race.” He had previously spoken to Anderson Cooper, ABC News, the Associated Press, and a slew of local Florida media.
But on O’Donnell’s show, the host explained that Sonner was “the first guest in the history of this particular show to get scared, to be so terrified of coming on this show that he has literally run away.”
And it wasn’t just a scheduling mismatch or an ill-timed bathroom break, O’Donnell noted. The host explained that Sonner was “in [MSNBC’s] car right now taking him home from our studio, afraid to face the questioning he’d face on this show.” Which meant O’Donnell didn’t just have the last word in this interview – he had the only word.