Frank Zappa Debates Censorship on CNN’s Crossfire (1986)

Crossfire aired on CNN from 1982 to 2005, famously pitting liberal pundits and special guests against their conservative counterparts. Perhaps you will remember the most famous episode — the day in 2004 when Jon Stewart paid a visit and demolished the whole premise of the show. It’s hard to top that moment. But, maybe coming in a close second was Frank Zappa’s memorable appearance in 1986.

On that March day, Zappa jumped into the fray and fought the culture wars of the 1980s. His main opponent wasn’t the often prickly conservative commentator Robert Novack. Instead, it was John Lofton, a right-wing columnist for The Washington Times, who argued that government should censor rock lyrics deemed unfriendly to families. Zappa, who considered himself a conservative too, took umbrage and you can watch the conversation unfold … and at times deteriorate. Also don’t miss Zappa’s testimony before Congress in 1985.

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Related Content:

A Young Frank Zappa Plays the Bicycle on The Steve Allen Show (1963)

Hear the Musical Evolution of Frank Zappa in 401 Songs

Watch Frank Zappa Play Michael Nesmith on The Monkees(1967)


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Comments (4)
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  • Goran Linderoth says:

    Check this out:
    “The Studio Korrekt Interrogation with Frank Zappa, Stockholm 1988 (uncut)”

  • alissa clough says:

    My mother saw this and remarked “Why haven’t I heard of this fellow before? He seems like a very bright and literate gentleman. I heard he went to Julliard.”

    I couldn’t really answer that. How could I explain…well, pretty much everything else he did?

  • Fernando says:

    I’ll never understand why zappa considered himself as ‘practical conservative’. The music, his opinions, the constant irony makes him far away from conservative thinking. I dunno, maybe he was ironic saying that too…

  • Another Some Guy says:

    In America, classical liberalism is the default. He is a classical liberal, defending and conserving the Constitution. Conservative.

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