CNN chief Jeff Zucker’s Less News/More Shows marching orders got a test run on cnnlogo2Don Lemon’s test-show last night, when conservative activist Larry Klayman got into a legal fracas with Lemon and the network’s legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. In theory, they were discussing Klayman’s win this week in a lawsuit challenging NSA surveillance. By the time it wrapped, Lemon had his producer cut off Klayman’s microphone and get him off the screen, Klayman compared Lemon to MSNBC’s recently “resigned” Martin Bashir, and Toobin called Klayman a “lunatic.”

Klayman is known for, among other things, having claimed President Obama is a closet Muslim who may have been born in Kenya. He’s also the plaintiff in a lawsuit decided Monday that’s the first major ruling from a federal judge about NSA’s surveillance program – likely unconstitutional, according to U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon. On Tuesday night, Lemon introduced Klayman to viewers with a bio that included a quote from a former George W. Bush staffer who’d said Klayman’s suits tended to be about “himself and his own… delusions of grandeur.”

Klayman, not surprisingly, came out swinging. “I think it is important to note you’re a big supporter of Obama,” Klayman told Lemon. “You have favored him in every respect. You have to try to do a hit piece to diminish a very important decision.”

Lemon fired back: “None of that is true, but go on.”

Klayman did just that: “You’re an ultra-leftist and you’re a big supporter of Obama,” Klayman went on, at Lemon’s invitation. “Let’s talk about the NSA, let’s not talk about Larry Klayman. This victory is for the American people… And you, as somebody from the left, should appreciate that you don’t have a police state in this country that’s going to be able to intimidate Americans to chill their free speech rights.” Lemon continued to insist nobody knew what were his political positions but himself. Sensing this crosstalk act could go on forever, Lemon threatened to cut Klayman’s mic and brought out Toobin, who’d been flapping his arms to get somebody’s attention. Toobin, called Klayman a “a professional litigant and lunatic who should not be a representative of the very important issues of this case.” This case, Toobin said, “is based on Larry Klayman’s tin-foil hat paranoia about the NSA being after him.”

Klayman responded “the fact that you want to try to do a hit on me shows me that you’re not a serious person and, frankly, should not be doing legal commentary for CNN,” adding, “This is a disgrace.”

“Oh, my gosh. Are you okay?” Lemon asked Klayman, condescendingly. When Klayman responded in kind, Lemon told his producers to cut him off, which they did. Toobin prattled on legally for a while, and then Lemon brought Klayman back to the screen for the last word, “to show you we’re going to be the bigger person.”

“Don’t kid anybody,” Klayman said. “Let anybody watch this and see that CNN removes you from the screen when it doesn’t like what you think. You’re not CNN, Don, and Toobin, you’re not CNN. CNN is a reputable organization, but you have not acted in a respectful way, and it’s in fact disgraceful. You’re more like Martin Bashir.”

Related: CNN Chief Jeff Zucker: “We Need More Shows And Less Newscasts”

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