The comedian and chat show host made an example of the Monty Python and Fawlty Towers star when asked about cancel culture at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, claiming Cleese has been able to say what he liked for years.
Norton, 59, said: “The word [cancel] is the wrong word. I think the word should be ‘accountability’.
“John Cleese has been very public recently about complaining about what you can’t say.
“It must be very hard to be a man of a certain age who's been able to say whatever he likes for years, and now suddenly there’s some accountability.
“It’s free speech, but not consequence free. I’m aware of the things I say.”
Cleese, 82, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “The BBC have not come to me and said: ‘Would you like to have some one-hour shows?’
“And if they did, I would say: ‘Not on your nelly!’ Because I wouldn’t get five minutes into the first show before I’d been cancelled or censored.”
The gay, male TV presenter said: “My voice adds absolute nothing to that discussion. I’m sort of embarrassed that I’m somehow drawn into it.
“If people want to shine a light on those issues, and I hope they do, talk to trans people. Talk to someone who can illuminate this in some way.”
Norton previously defended his decision to invite the Harry Potter author onto his radio show, saying he did not believe you had to agree with someone to interview them.
Watch: John Cleese has called GB News the 'free speech' channel