MSNBC host Alex Wagner got into a heated debate Tuesday night during a segment about the death penalty on Comedy Central's "The Nightly Show."
The panel, also featuring comedians Dan Soder and Keith Robinson, was discussing whether or not Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should receive the death penalty.
“I just think there are certain people that just need to die,” host Larry Wilmore said to open up the segment, adding “I have no problem with Tsarnaev getting executed.”
[sharequote align="center"]“I just think there are certain people that just need to die."[/sharequote]
After Robinson jokingly argued he'd rather force Tsarnaev to undergo a sex change operation and then be used as a "virgin" in jail, Wagner entered the debate.
"I think once you say, this crime is more heinous because of the kids who died than another crime where a little girl has been raped and killed, or several little girls have been raped and killed—," she said.
Wilmore interjected, "I am happy to kill them for that."
"So then you're not really against the death penalty," Wagner responded.
"No, I'm not against the death penalty in that instance," Wilmore shot back. "You're correct."
"You can define what constitutes the correct punishment," the host added. "And I'm happy with making that definition."
"Well, then how do you define that?" Wagner asked.
Wilmore offered a quick rebuttal.
"That's how you come up with laws," he said. "You come up with a process of defining it. We've already defined it with other laws. Look, our government already sponsors us killing people. We send drones to kill people. And I don't see anybody marching against that. We send soldiers off and there job is to kill and it's sponsored by the state."
Robinson then jumped into the debate, asking Wagner, "What should be done with him then?"
"I mean, I think life in prison is a fairly [inaudible] ... I mean, what they're talking about is putting him in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day," she answered.
Wilmore asked Wagner why she opposes the death penalty when there is "unmistakable evidence," like in Tsarnaev's case, that the individual was responsible for the crime.
"There is no chance that he didn't do it," Wilmore added.
"Sure, but in all death penalty cases you want to be sure that the guy did it, right?" Wagner said.
"We are sure that he did it," Wilmore fired back.
"Again, if you are arguing this in the abstract," the MSNBC host said.
"No, I'm not," Wilmore doubled down. "I am arguing this in the specific."
After being grilled for a few more moments by the panel, Wilmore cut to break. When the program returned, Wanger had left and a member of the audience had replaced her. Wilmore only said that the MSNBC host "had to run."
Media-news website Mediaite reached out Comedy Central and the network said it was "established prior to the taping" that Wagner would "only participate in the first panel segment." An MSNBC representative told the website the same thing.
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