Well, I got the word that “The Daily Show” has taken a pass on having me on to talk Tyranny of Cliches. The explanation that was passed on to me was that the book is too “one-sided” and that they don’t do books like that. As far as I can tell, that’s nonsense.
Of course, the show is free to have on whoever they want. I was just a little surprised. My last outing on the Daily Show was rather famous. Stewart went after me hammer and tongs for nearly 20 minutes and then they cut it down to five or six minutes, in ways — I’ve been told (I’ve never watched it) — that were quite friendly to Stewart (Here’s Mark Hemingway’s response at the time). I was hardly great, and I certainly should have prepared myself for such a hostile interview so early in the book tour. But Stewart was a mess. He seemed to think that spending an afternoon reading up on fascism made him an expert. I have never watched the final clip that aired, but in the interview he seemed obsessed — as many critics of LF have been — with some quotes from Mussolini denouncing “liberalism.” The argument goes something like this: See! Liberal Fascism makes no sense since Mussolini hated liberalism.
The problem is that the liberalism Mussolini was denouncing was the “Manchester liberalism” of free markets and free trade, which pretty much bolstered my point. For the record, while I have huge problems with many of Stewart’s views and arguments, and have written as much many times, I still think he’s very talented and a charming guy.
Anyway, the next day Stewart called me and was very conciliatory and friendly. He didn’t apologize, but he made it clear he thought the whole thing didn’t go ideally either. The way I remember it at least, he seemed eager to have me back. Clearly, I was either wrong or things have changed. It’s too bad, it would have been fun.