Better Know a Guest: November 5 – 8, 2012 — UPDATE!

The Colbert Report Guest Line UpHello Hubsters!


I hope all those Hubsters who were in the path of “perfect storm” Sharon are well, along with their families, and with power restored. My own went out on Monday night and only returned about 9PM on Friday. Heat and hot water, unfortunately, did not come along with the electricity, and probably will not be restored for a week or two. For the past few days, I have simply devoted my time to trips uptown to charge up the phone and get extra supplies. That also meant climbing up the twelve flights of stairs in my building. However, I am not complaining. I am capable of doing that, my apartment and loved ones are safe, and my cats have remained comfortably at home the whole time. People have suffered here, and some have died. In Breezy Point, Brooklyn, 110 homes burned. Flooding occurred everywhere, leaving people in Newark and Hoboken stranded. Staten Island remains in terrible shape. I count my blessings that all my inconveniences are temporary.

For various reasons this week’s BKAG will be short and with “reruns.” Obviously, I’m still trying to get things in order. But also, Stephen has one guest who has been on The Daily Show very recently (and is returning to TDS again this week, too!) and another who was on just a few months ago. They’re not pitching new books or films; they’re coming on to discuss the election. So in those cases I will reprise or extend my earlier post with a few variations where they are warranted, perhaps a few fresher articles and so forth.  But web addresses, Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts won’t have changed in the meantime.

I still have two Reports and Daily Shows to catch up on this week! I can’t wait to see the David Byrne….


Monday, 11/5: Nate Silver

Nate SilverWhat are the odds? Statistician Nate Silver might be making history: after appearing on The Daily Show less than a month ago, he’s visiting the Report on Monday and TDS again on Wednesday! That could be a record. And it’s all about the election. Silver deals with, and makes, predictions. Although he began his career using statistics to calculate the outcome of baseball games, he eventually moved on to the political world. In 2008, he made a splash by correctly pinpointing the results in 49 out of the 50 states. The New York Times bought his blog, a publishing contract quickly followed, and TV shows came calling. What does he predict for Tuesday? So far, he’s said that Obama has a slightly over 80% chance of victory, based on the votes needed to win the Electoral College.

Apparently, Silver demonstrated his math genius even as a mere child of six, and ultimately went on to earn his AB in economics from the University of Chicago; he also spent a year at the famed London School of Economics. He’s written for Baseball Prospectus, Esquire, New York Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal; spoken at South by Southwest and TED; and continued to devise systems for predicting sports results, including for the most recent World Cup.

Silver’s new and already bestselling book is The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—and Some Don’t. It explores the question of how we can sift through the vast amount of information we receive in the modern world and get at the crucial data necessary to make smart decisions. As the Times review clarifies: “The book’s title comes from electrical engineering, where a signal is something that conveys information, while noise is an unwanted, unmeaningful or random addition to the signal. Problems arise when the noise is as strong as, or stronger than, the signal. How do you recognize which is which?”

As an aside, just this week, as I was uptown waiting for some food to bring home to my dark, electricity-less apartment, I ended up chatting with someone who happens to be Silver’s friend. I remembered Silver had been on either TDS or TCR recently—but I had no idea he’d be on BOTH this week.


Visit his FiveThirtyEight blog, which just won a Webby for Best Political Blog.

Follow him on Twitter.

Listen to him on NPR.

Silver clearly believes his way is better than the usual political punditry.

It’s the math, stupid!

He and FOX News Joe Scarborough have a bet going about who will win the presidency.

Silver addressed how race affects voting choice.

Here’s his recent October 17th visit to The Daily Show for an extended interview—Part 1 and 2.

In 2008, he last visited The Colbert Report.

Read the LA Times review of The Signal and the Noise.


Tuesday, 11/6: Andrew Sullivan

It’s election night, and Stephen’s guest for what will be a live show is prominent conservative blogger and journalist Andrew Sullivan. If you have the feeling of déja vu, that’s because he was on TCR just this past August.

Sullivan writes for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, and for many years, his essays appeared regularly in the New York Times Magazine. (More on that below.) His conservatism, though, is complicated by his homosexuality, which is not embraced by the Republican party. In fact, Sullivan seems like the kind of conservative my sister is: fiscally so, but socially liberal, with a desire to keep government out of our personal lives. There used to be many Republicans of that stripe—the so-called Rockefeller Republicans—but they have long been chased out of the party.

The British-born Sullivan received his BA in modern history and modern languages from Oxford, but came to America to study at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he earned both his MA and PhD. In 2011, he finally was able to become a permanent resident of the US, after having been banned for years because of his HIV-positive status, which at one time disqualified you for consideration.

Sullivan’s journalistic career began at The New Republic, where he eventually became editor. He then joined the Times, but was let go, possibly because he openly criticized the newspaper on his blog, The Daily Dish. His other employers since then have included TIME and the Atlantic, and his books include Same Sex Marriage Pro and Con: A Reader and Love Undetectable: Notes of Friendship, Sex, and Survival.

Although Sullivan has had a great career in the traditional media, without a doubt his biggest claim to fame at the moment is his blog, The Dish, which won The 2008 Weblog Award for Best Blog. This article, from Harvard Magazine, queries whether he is, in fact, the world’s best blogger. Incidentally it also is the place where Anderson Cooper officially “came out.”


He recently clashed with George Will on the ABC news show, This Week.

Here’s a review of his book, The Conservative Soul, in New York Magazine, and another in the New York Times.

Read one of Sullivan’s most recent articles, on the Catholic Church and New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, from the Advocate.

Follow Andrew Sullivan on Twitter. Or follow his blog tweets here.

Like the Andrew Sullivan/Dish Facebook page.

Sullivan visited the Report only this past January.

Hear him on NPR discuss Obama’s support of gay marriage.


Wednesday, 11/7: Doris Kearns Goodwin

Doris Kearns GoodwinThe day after the election, who better to discuss the results than a presidential historian? Author of the bestselling Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, Doris Kearns Goodwin has also written about the Kennedys, Lyndon Johnson, and, in the Pulitzer Prize-winning No Ordinary Time, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. For movie-going folks, Team of Rivals inspired Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Lincoln, starring Daniel Day Lewis.

Goodwin received her PhD from Harvard University, where she has since taught, and was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at the White House. She’s a regular on TV news programs, respected across the political spectrum from MSNBC to FOX, and has worked for NBC News. On a more surprising note, she served as a consultant to Ken Burns on his Baseball documentary for PBS; the Brooklyn-bred Goodwin was a huge fan of the Dodgers (before they went west, of course, the traitors).

All I can say is, I hope she’ll be discussing the possibilities inherent in Obama’s second term–not what Mitt might do.


Visit her website.

Go to her publisher’s author page where you can find out more about some of her books, or check out the books page on her own website.

She does have one huge problem: Goodwin admitted to plagiarism. For me, that’s incredibly huge and distressing. When I taught, I did everything to explain to my students why they should never, ever use someone else’s writing without attribution. (Morally–not just because I’d flunk them.) And then this much-awarded author admits to quite a large amount of “borrowing”? It makes every professor’s job harder.

She has been on the Report twice before, in 2010 and 2008. She’s a friend now!

Of course, she’s visited The Daily Show multiple time, too, most recently in 2010.

Follow her on Twitter.

Like her on Facebook.

At TED, she spoke about what we can learn from the actions of past presidents.

Watch this video of her speaking about the US presidency at the University of Connecticut.


Thursday, 11/8: Kevin Sheppard

Kevin SheppardWhen you hear about a documentary called The Iran Job, what would you imagine the subject to be? Perhaps espionage? Terrrorism? That country’s attempt to build an atomic bomb? Most likely, your first thoughts wouldn’t turn to hoops. Subtitled The Story of an American Basketball Player in Iran, the film follows tonight’s guest, Kevin Sheppard, as he accepts a contract to play in a country that most of us would feel scared even to visit, much less live. Sheppard, from St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands, joined the Iranian Super League—and while there forged a strong friendship with three politically aware Iranian women who regularly met in his home (a prohibited act) where they freely discussed topics that might have been dangerous to address openly elsewhere.

Sheppard—who excelled in soccer as well as basketball—has played in teams around the world (Cuba, Venezuela, Australia, Israel), not just in Iran. He’s six feet tall, which would make a US-based career in the sport somewhat difficult, given the giants who rule the game here. Since the documentary was made, Sheppard has returned home to mentor young players.

Making the documentary posed serious difficulties: much of the filming had to be done secretly, and Till Schauder, one of the film’s directors, was refused a journalist’s permit and briefly detained by Iranian authorities. I’m sure he’d also have some interesting tales to tell. (His Iranian-American wife and codirector, Sara Nodjoumi, was home pregnant at the time, unable to travel.) I’m glad Schauder succeeded in completing the movie, and look forward to seeing it. As a huge fan of Iranian cinema, I’ve been distressed to see many of the country’s most brilliant artists under house arrest and forbidden to work. But through their films, I’ve grown very fond of the people, if not the government. I’d love to “meet” his three women friends and see what life on the team was like.


Read CNN’s story about Sheppard.

Salon wrote an article on Sheppard and the film.

So did ESPN.

Read the brief New York Times review.

Listen to him on NPR.

Here’s an interview with two out of the three women featured in the film.


And now let’s check in with our good friend Jon Stewart!


Monday, 11/5: Martha Raddatz

The moderator with the mostess comes to The Daily Show. ABC News Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz recently handled the Biden/Ryan vice-presidential debate to great acclaim. A former White House correspondent during the Bush, Jr. years, Raddatz also reports for other ABC programs, including the soon-to-be-moved Nightline.

Did you miss the debate? Catch up on it here.

read her ABC News official biography.

Follow her on Twitter.

“Stephen” supported her! Even before the debate, he criticized her critics.


Tuesday, 11/6: Live election night coverage

So far, it’s all Jon tonight for the election! (Why not Jon and Stephen? Why, why, why, whine?) Now, it is possible he’ll have a guest on, but his website says TK and the Late Night News page just says “election coverage.”


Wednesday, 11/7: Nate Silver

Nate Silver runs over a couple of streets from Stephen’s studio to Jon’s for an after-election analysis.


Thursday, 11/8: Katie Dellamaggiore & Pobo Efekoro?

The election’s over… so let’s move on. But just where is hard to say. The Late Night TV page lists Katie Dellamaggiore, director/producer of the new documentary Brooklyn Castle, and Pobo Efekoro, one of the movie’s youthful stars. (This would mean that both Stephen and Jon would choose to end election week by focusing on film.) Brooklyn Castle sounds like an uplifting story about a poverty-stricken school where the chess team is cool and the kids just keep on winning tournaments. But a warning: as of now, The Daily Show site says Thursday’s guest is TBA, so for the moment I’ll hold off on any additional details.


That’s it for now, folks! As always, let me know who you’re most looking forward to seeing. I think that we’ll all be pretty preoccupied this week, though–at least through Tuesday, and maybe even more after.

And remember, everyone who is a US citizen: please, please vote!



  • Anna S

    Love your work, Karenatasha! Your “short” BKAG looks super lengthy to me. Glad you’re safe and well and hope you get all your services back ASAP (and likewise to any other affected NYers).

    I am very excited about this week! Although a bit nervous about the election – I will be watching through the day on Wednesday our time and hoping for the best. But some fantastic guests (I especially love Doris Kearns Goodwin!) and am sure Jon and Stephen will be on top of their game – and there will be a huge amount of material for them to work with! Good times ahead.

  • karenatasha

    @Anna S

    Aww, thanks so much, Anna, for your kind words, both about my writing and my situation. I appreciate it. I remain in the cold, but hopeful for restoration and in-home hot showers.

    This is going to be an interesting week–and a nerve-wracking couple of days. (Or longer–who knows what could happen in such a close election?) I certainly hope your “good times ahead” turns out to be true!

  • colbaby

    Yikes, hope you get your heat and hot water back soon Karenatasha!

    Looking forward to Doris Kearns-Goodwin. I wonder if Stephen will issue her a preemptive apology. I’m feeling pretty angsty about the election today. Blogs like FiveThirtyEight are extremely reassuring, but I’m trying not to get too confident. For the love of baby Jesus, everyone VOTE. Especially any Ohio Hubsters. This time Wednesday, I want to be basking in the sweet schadenfreude of Romney’s broken dreams. Petty? Yes. But oh so satisfying.

  • karenatasha


    Thanks, Colbaby. I’m hoping so, too.

    I’m with you about election angst. So much is riding on this, and I’m definitely scared. It’s so close that anything from a storm to long lines to lackadaisical voters could prove a game-changer. The only thing about the closeness is that it might makes voters think twice about not going to the polls.

    Just one more day. Terrified.

  • susan209

    Hi Karenatasha — So glad to see your post and to know you’re hanging in there! I am sending my prayers and best wishes all the way from the Metro North train down to the flooded shores of the Union Square subway station! You are wonderful to contribute time to this when you are still dealing with the fallout from the hurricane. It is appreciated, as are you! Looking forward to hearing that the lights are on and you’re as warm as can be.

  • CN Helper

    So glad to have you back, Karenatasha! The whole week is going to be amazing with the big Election Night. Last time, in 2008, I skipped the regular news and watched Jon/Stephen until the big announcement, so I missed their reaction to Obama’s big win. This time around I look forward to once again seeing how they approach what is going to be a fascinating evening, and watch all the way through.

    All the guests will be good, lots of regulars this week, to be expected, one presumes. Poor Doris Kearns Goodwin, Stephen has made so many jokes at her expense, “once again, my apologies to Doris Kearns Goodwin…” She is such a good sport.

    Well, I am also looking forward to Kevin Sheppard. I have family ties to Iran, and have been there a few times, I am fortunate to say. (in fact, I am probably heading back next year for a visit.) I will be interested in what Mr. Sheppard has to say. Although, honestly, I think folks make Iran to be more of a dangerous, intriguing place than what it is sometimes. If you just go about your business it is a beautiful, wonderful country, and the people could not be friendlier to Americans- yes Americans.

    If you want to get a sense of Iran, it was great when Jason Jones went there on the street and people knew who Jon Stewart was. Of course, I don’t mean to paint an entirely rosy picture– but due to my family being there/potential travels there I will be mindful of what I say in this forum, if you get my drift.

  • Karenatasha


    Susan — thank you for your kind words. I do have good news to report: the heat and hot water came back on tonight! I hope all is well with you and you family, and that you experienced no hardships.

    Now…just three Colberts to catch up on. (I missed most of tonight as I was out at a screening.)

  • karenatasha

    @CN Helper

    Thank you, CN! I loved reading your response, because what you said about Iran and Iranians is what I’ve gathered from watching the country’s marvelous cinema. The filmmakers are daring and creative and politically progressive — and often suffer for their outspokeness. Just now, the incredible Jafar Panahi is under house arrest and prohibited from working. (His last film, made with an iPhone camera as well as a friend’s equipment, is cleverly called “This Is Not a Film.”) But these directors have created a warm and wonderful portrait of the country’s people. And I, too, loved what Jason Jones did when he went there. It brilliantly undercut Americans’ preconceptions.