September 1, 2021

Ayn Rand with Johnny Carson, August 11, 1967

Ayn Rand, political philosopher and author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, among other novels, has never really been out of the public eye, though it's likely that few of the people who read her and debate her ideas today ever had the chance to see her live. So let's take this opportunity to look at footage of Rand appearing with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show on August 11, 1967. (Johnny's other guests included Florence Henderson and the Temptations—an eclectic show to say the least.)

This was the first of three 1967 appearances by Rand with Carson, and not only does this give us a chance to hear Rand describe the philosophy of Objectivism in her own voice, it points out the vapidity of today's late night talk shows. In fact, Carson's own version of The Tonight Show was a shadow of its former self by the time it came to an end, but it towers as an ivory tower of intellectualism compared to Colbert, the Jimmys, Myers and the rest.

I've frequently written in the past about the decline of what Terry Teachout refers to as "middlebrow" culture on television. Usually I'm talking about the lack of classical music, drama or documentary shows, but this reminds us that the dearth of smart programming extends to the talk show as well. Sure, you might have been able to find something like this from Charlie Rose (as a matter of fact, offhand he's the only one I can think of who would have done something like this), but perish the thought that a stimulating political discussion (that wasn't also a piece of partisan advocacy) would appear on one of the broadcast networks today. 

As for daytime talk shows—well, we won't even go there. (Although it would have been interesting to see what Rand would have done to Oprah. TV  

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating and also sad, as you say. I haven't watched a late night talk show for more than 5 minutes in probably a decade, and the lack of both objectivity and stimulating conversation is why.


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