Better Know a Guest: January 14 -17, 2013

The Colbert Report Guest Line Up Welcome to Better Know a Guest, your weekly guide to the wonderful and diverse array of personalities appearing on ‘The Colbert Report’ and ‘The Daily Show’ each week.


Hello, Hubsters!

Can we talk? (Yes, I’m stealing that line.) I’m personally getting a little annoyed at media folk who keep saying that Jimmy Kimmel’s new 11:35 show now “makes it a three-man race.” Uh . . . NO. It makes it a FOUR-man race! Why do they keep ignoring Stephen as a competitor? He and Jon get the most advertiser-desired audience of the group. It may not be largest viewership, but it is considered the most sought-after. It’s infuriating. Here’s an announcement: the big networks aren’t all that matter anymore. In fact, they may matter LESS now than others. Get with the times, understand what’s happening with media, and judge properly.

*I am now stepping down from my soapbox.*

Both Jon and Stephen delivered a sparkling first week back. Both of them seemed positively giddy to return to work and, clearly, both knew there was plenty of material just waiting for them. Kudos to Jon for his lengthy openers, which took on the fiscal cliff, gun control, and Sandy recovery funding. (Does it seem to you he’s using the correspondents less and less?) Stephen tackled most of those subjects in an equally brilliant, yet extremely different, way. It’s always fascinating for me to see how they each approach the same news story.

And then there were naughty couches….  ;-)

Now, let’s take a look at this week’s guests! (Still no photos, by the way. The site is not cooperating. So sorry.)


Monday  1/14: Piers Morgan

When British-born newsman Piers Morgan exploded at Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro for claiming that Americans need assault weapons “for the prospective possibility of resistance to tyranny,” his words went viral. After Shapiro claimed that the tyranny would in fact come from the US government itself, Morgan asked him: “Do you know how ridiculous you sound?” The response to Morgan’s anti-gun tirade was swift: NRA activists circulated a petition asking that he be deported. Obama has since given his answer to the petitioners, and it amounts to “second amendment, please meet first amendment.” In other words, using your freedom of speech will not get you kicked out of the country. (For the record, in case you don’t read the attached link: if a petition to the White House contains more than 25,000 signatures, the president must issue a response. This one had over 100,000. Which is scary.)

The controversy didn’t end there, because gun advocate Alex Jones came on Morgan’s show next, screaming that if our weapons were taken away “1776 would commence again.” He also claimed England was a police state—and more. It’s madness. In any case, the long and the short of it is, I’m sure Mr. Morgan and Stephen will have a chat about the fracas and gun control. I’m assuming it will be fun.

In addition to his TV show, Piers Morgan Tonight, the prolific journalist also serves as editorial director of the English newspaper for children called First News; has written for several of Rupert Murdoch’s British tabloids (and, sadly, not only defended the mogul in the hacking scandal but is implicated himself), and has appeared on numerous purely entertainment programs, including guest host on America’s Got Talent.

Read his blog on CNN.

Follow him on Twitter. His show also has its own Twitter.

Morgan has actually threatened “self-deportation.” (He may HAVE to go to testify in Hackgate.)

CNN had an article about the tiff with Jones and the buzz it generated.

David Carr, the media editor for The New York Times, also discussed the flap.


Tuesday, 1/15: Jared Diamond

Most of us in the 21st century are connected 24/7 and our lifestyles hinge on technology. We even dream of more—I, for example, still hope that Scotty will beam me down. Being able to alight in Brazil in a split-second? I’m on board. Of course, we all know that most of what we take for granted would mystify our grandparents and great-grandparents, not to mention generations even further back. But geographer Jared Diamond suggests that the gulf between us and them may not be as wide as we believe. His new book, The World Until Yesterday: What We Can Learn from Traditional Societies, examines existing social systems that have more in common with those from the past and suggests that they might be more congenial to our physical and psychological selves. The groups he has researched come from around the world and range from Pacific Islanders to Amazon Indians.

Diamond is a professor of geography at UCLA who has also delved into evolutionary biology and physiology. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, he has won the National Medal of Science, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, and the Pulitzer Prize for his book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies—which also inspired a PBS series.

The New York Times put a review of his book on the cover of this Sunday’s Book Review.

Here’s his page at UCLA.

National Geographic has a page for him, as well.

Professor Diamond was not happy at how Mitt Romney used the facts in Guns, Germs, and Steel, and claimed his views were misrepresented. My favorite line: “That is so different from what my book actually says that I have to doubt whether Mr. Romney read it.”

He recently talked about the new book on NPR. Word to the wise: he recommends speaking at least five languages. (But he himself can’t–not exactly.)

Some of his diary was published in the Financial Times.

He commented on climate change.

American Scientist had an interview with Diamond on his book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.

This is his second appearance on the Report.


Wednesday, 1/16: Tom Brokaw

Okay: we all know who Tom Brokaw is, don’t we? The former NBC News anchor, current NBC Special Correspondent,  and chronicler of the “greatest generation” is quite the friend of the show! Brokaw has been a frequent guest on both TCR and The Daily Show. In his last appearance with Stephen, which took place in 2011, Brokaw discussed reporting on 9/11. He also came to visit in December 2009, to talk about the ending of a decade and what had gone on during the 10 years before, and earlier that same year (in April) to analyze President Obama’s  trip to the G2 Summit. There are other clips—but I think that’s enough for one BKAG!

Because Brokaw doesn’t appear to have a book or a news special to plug, my best guess is that he and Stephen will analyze the latest political news—Obama’s inauguration, the start of the new Congress, what might happen with gun control laws, and whether we’ll be taking another journey to the edge of the fiscal cliff. (Answer to that last one: oh, yeah. We can pretty much depend on it.)

Follow him on Twitter.

Read his NBC bio.

He spoke on the tragic Newtown, CT shootings.

During the campaign, Bill Maher criticized Brokaw harshly for adhering to “journalistic objectivity” in the face of birtherism. Maher felt the accusations against Obama should have been denounced as racism.

Like him on Facebook, on a page set up by his publisher, Random House. It offers a free chapter of his book The Time of Our Lives. Or go here to get links to, and buy, several of his books.

The Fair Blog criticized Brokaw’s definition of the middle class: $250,000 or more.

Watch Brokaw on The Daily Show, in September 2012.

Brokaw spoke about Sandy and climate change.


Thursday, 1/17: Akhil Reed Amar

The American Constitution is a magnificent document,  and one with an openness that demands constant interpretation and reinterpretation—unless you’re someone who’s a fundamentalist about the matter. Political battles can get bitter over the exact meaning of what our founding forefathers meant. Having already written a book on the subject, legal scholar Akhil Reed Amar pushes a little further in America’s Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By. For Amar, some of the ideals that we take for granted are not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, but have developed over time, through laws, judicial rulings, and even our normal way of life. (Eg: the separation of powers in our various levels of government.)

Amar is the Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale, the university he attended as both an undergraduate and a graduate, and where he served as the editor of the prestigious Yale Law Journal. He has also taught at Columbia, Harvard, and Pepperdine, always focusing on constitutional law. Before returning to Yale as a professor, he clerked for Justice Stephen Breyer. He has authored textbooks on constitutional procedure and the Bill of Rights, and his predecessor to this new work, America’s Constitution: A Biography, received the Silver Gavel Certificate of Merit. This statement, from the publisher’s website (which I’ve linked to) particularly struck me: We also learn that the Founders’ Constitution was far more slavocratic than many would acknowledge: the “three fifths” clause gave the South extra political clout for every slave it owned or acquired. As a result, slaveholding Virginians held the presidency all but four of the Republic’s first thirty-six years, and proslavery forces eventually came to dominate much of the federal government prior to Lincoln’s election.”

Visit his Yale Law School page.

Here’s a link to his articles on Slate.

Amar addressed the issues in Obamacare that the Supreme Court upheld last year.

The New York Times reviewed the book.

Last year, he spoke with Keith Olbermann. He did not have nice things to say about the House.

He also appeared on the Diane Rehm Show.

The Los Angeles Review of Books also reviewed America’s Unwritten Constitution.

Amar discusses why he writes his books for a general, not specialized, audience, in Publishers Weekly.


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

Amazingly, Jon has managed to book TWO of tonight’s Golden Globe winners!

Monday, 1/14: Roger Waters

He wasn’t just another brick in the wall—he built it! Bassist and lyricist Roger Floyd helped make Pink Floyd one of the world’s most influential rock groups of its time—and I wouldn’t be surprised if his music spoke to the adolescent Jon. Since 2010,he has been touring the world, performing The Wall in its entirety without the rest of the band. Waters also participated in the 12/12/12 concert and supports the charity, Millennium Promise.

Follow him on Twitter.

Visit his website.

Read his interview in Rolling Stone.

Tuesday, 1/15: Bob Schieffer

CBS newsman Bob Schieffer had the honor of moderating the third and final debate between Obama and Romney last year. More regularly, the award-winning journalist hosts Face the Nation and serves as chief Washington correspondent. Since joining CBS in 1969, he’s worked as a Pentagon reporter, the White House correspondent, as a contributor to 60 Minutes, and weekend anchor of the network’s evening news.

Visit the Face the Nation website.

Follow him on Twitter.

Like him on Facebook.

Watch him on The Daily Show (his most recent appearance) and on the Report.

Wednesday, 1/16: Jessica Chastain

She got her Oscar® nomination–and tonight she won her Golden Globe®! Kathryn Bigelow may have stood Stephen up, but let’s hope her star makes it to The Daily Show. (In fairness, Bigelow was accepting a major critics award on the Monday she cancelled.) Jessica Chastain plays the relentless CIA agent, based on a real person, in Zero Dark Thirty, and she’s won raves. She also just appeared on Broadway in The Heiress, based on Henry James’s novella, Washington Square.

Chastain appeared on Charlie Rose.

She was interviewed in TIME.

Here’s a thorough fansite for her.

Thursday, 1/17: Lena Dunham

She won too–TWO Globes! The second season of Girls, the breakout HBO show Lena Dunham created, writes, and stars in, just began this weekend. Dunham’s buzzworthy series earned her four Emmy® nominations; her first film, Tiny Furniture, received the award for Best Narrative Feature at South by Southwest. I’m glad for her victory, because Dunham has been on the receiving end of some pretty ugly stuff lately, especially a horrific review in the New York Post that focused only on her weight and body, and much not at all on anything else. Jezebel and other online media quickly defended Dunham.

Visit the Girls website.

Follow her on Twitter.

Huff Post wrote an article on Dunham’s “epic year.”

She’s received criticism for the show’s total whiteness, and she spoke about that on NPR.

Howard Stern acted like an a** (what’s new?); Dunham responded with good humor.

And of course, she appeared with Stephen.


That’s all, folks! Let me know who you’re most looking forward to seeing!
Have a happy week.

  • Mr. Arkadin

    Hi Karen!
    All you’ve said about Morgan and the gun nuts is true. However, I can’t help but think that the only thing I like about gun nuts is that they hate Piers Morgan! What an @$$hole he is! My favorite part of this whole “saga,” is that once the petition to deport Morgan came about. Some people in the UK started a petition to keep him OUT! I loved that! :D

    Also. I can’t help but think Stephen and Jon just flipped a coin to decide who would get which moldy fig of a “newsman.” God I wish they would both go away.

    I guess I’m most looking forward to Amar on Stephen. I’ve seen him on Chris Hayes’ show and I think he can handle “Stephen.”
    I’m also curious how much (If at all.) Jon prods Chastain about the torture controversy in ZDT. I know she’s not responsible per se. But I would like to hear how she feels about it and if she has any qualms about it.

  • karenatasha

    @Mr. Arkadin
    Hi, there! I totally agree with you about Piers Morgan in general. I don’t like him at all, except for his response to the gun crazies. His Murdoch involvement is particularly shameful, as it seems likely that he knew about the hacking and perhaps even used information gleaned from violating people’s privacy.

    I actually like Bob Schieffer better than you, however.

    Somehow, I suspect that Jon won’t be grilling Jessica Chastain on the torture controversy. He rarely seems to talk with actors much about their films/projects, anyway. He usually goes a bit off topic. But we shall see. It would be interesting to know how she thought/felt about those scenes. (I haven’t seen the film yet.)

  • Katt

    I’m really not looking forward to Piers Morgan. I hope they disinfect the chair after he leaves. His stance on gun violence I can at least agree with.

    It will be interesting to see how Jon handles the Jessica Chastain interview. I loved Tina and Amy’s zinger at Kathryn Bigelow last night at the Golden Globes!!

  • llama

    I gotta say, whether you like Piers or not, his show has been mighty entertaining as of late. I am looking forward to the interview, there’ll be lots to talk about. I do hope Stephen uber-nails him over the hacking thing, but at least he’s anti-gun.
    Karen, I haven’t been hearing people say that about Jimmy Kimmel (the three man race thing) but I agree. It drives me nuts when Stephen gets left out. I hate it when he gets left out of everything, but I will say this, most people don’t lump him in with all the other late night talk shows. Before I was a fan of the shows, I didn’t realize they were late night shows, I thought they aired in primetime. They sort of stand on their own as brilliant satirical news shows that just happen to be on in late night territory.

  • karenatasha

    @Katt
    Hey, Katt, I agree that I generally don’t like Morgan, except for this gun thing.

    Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were fantastic. Great to see the women nailing it. I still have a taped hour to see because I tuned out to watch “Downton Abbey.” I still am betting Jon won’t try to nail Chastain. He’s let far worse guests off easy.

  • karenatasha

    @llama
    I think a consensus has emerged: No Piers Morgan except when dissing guns! I seriously think he’s going to get it on Hackgate, I do. He seems, if the things I’ve read are correct, to be in pretty deep.

    The newspapers have all been calling it a “three-man race,” so that’s where I got it from. A good friend of mine says that if you read the business rather than the arts/media section, however, they take a different point of view. Business journalists are all about the numbers–meaning not just the size of the audience, but viewer demographics–and they know that Jon and Stephen get the cream of what advertisers want.

  • Mr. Arkadin

    @karenatasha “I still am betting Jon won’t try to nail Chastain.”

    Why not! She’s kinda cute! I’d certainly tr….Oh… You mean causes he’s happily married! My bad… Or do you mean there are cameras filming and when his wife see the footage she will kill him?

    This is all so confusing, Karenatasha.

  • karenatasha

    @Mr. Arkadin

    HA! All of the above. ;-)
    She IS very pretty. But I trust you know what I meant.

    Missed you, Mr. Arkadin!

  • lockhart43

    Whenever my mom hears a certain news story that she figures Jon and Stephen would cover, she always asks me if I’ve heard anything about it from them, which I love. So when my mom heard about the petition regarding Piers Morgan, she asked if “my shows” had covered it yet, and I mentioned to her that Morgan would be on TCR tonight. While I’m not generally a fan of Morgan or his show, I appreciated that he wasn’t afraid to call that fool out during that interview, and tonight should prove to be a good episode.

    I am excited for all of this week’s guests, actually, on both TDS and TCR. I actually don’t really have an opinion about Zero Dark Thirty, but I do think Jessica Chastain is a great actress (I loved her in The Help), so I hope that’s a good interview. But seriously, Tom Brokaw! Roger Waters! Bob Schieffer! And Lena Dunham! I was SO thrilled for her last night, and loved her speech.

  • karenatasha

    @lockhart43
    I love that your mom does that, Lockhart! It’s certainly the way I think when I read about political absurdities: will Jon and Stephen cover it? And if so, what will they say? I look forward to their satire with anticipation. In fact, sometimes the fact that Jon and Stephen will call out the idiocy is the only thing that makes certain news reports bearable.

    I think the interaction between Stephen and Piers Morgan should be…interesting. That’s all I can say!

    And why do I think Jon will be such a fanboy around Waters? Not as much as with Springsteen, I’m sure, but enough.

    I still have to hear Dunham’s victory speech; it’s part of what I missed last night.

  • lockhart43

    @karenatasha They were both great, but Dunham’s speech for winning Best Actress is the one I’m referring to. She said that the award was for any girl who felt like there wasn’t a space for them, and that the show made a space for her which made her grateful. She also thanked the other nominees but went further into saying that they got her through pretty much all of the low points of her life. It was very sweet. Speaking of Dunham, if you’re a fan of her at all, I would recommend her movie, Tiny Furniture.

    I also just realized after reading the whole bio for Jared Diamond that he was the author of Guns, Germs and Steel. I’ve wanted to read that book for about 7 years, and after finding how that my brother owns it and loved it, he’s let me borrow it and I finally have it in my possession. I haven’t started it yet, but now I’m all the more excited for that interview!

  • karenatasha

    @lockhart43
    Yes, I understood that! Perhaps you looked at my earlier response and not the last? I missed Dunham’s. When I got back to the show, I saw her holding the statue.

    I’m mixed on the show for various reasons, but people have been so needlessly cruel to her lately that I’m glad she can thumb her nose at them. Although she tends not to do that sort of spiteful thing.

    I think the Jared Diamond interview should be fascinating too. I’m looking forward to that, because the topic interests me. Kind of fascinating–given his most recent topic–that he’s a geographer, not an anthropologist.

  • lockhart43

    @karenatasha It sounds bad to say I grew to like the show, but I kind of did. There are various points in the show where it seems too hipster, or too whiny, or too self-involved, or too-any of the other things someone can think of to criticize the show. And a lot of the criticisms are valid. For me, the thing that I’ve realized about the show, and one of the reasons why I like it, is because Dunham’s not afraid for you to not always want to root for her or the other characters. It is awkward and it is uncomfortable, and it can be that and still be funny. She and the other people on the show often do things that are misguided or selfish, because they are part of a generation that is selfish, but is also misguided and drastically realizing that they’re placing their expectations too high partly because that’s what they were told to do. And I can understand that as a member of that generation (who’s just a couple of years younger). And on a less-deeper level of thought, I would recommend it if only for Zosia Mamet’s (the playwright’s daughter) character Shoshanna. She’s…she’s just wonderful.

    Anyway. Diamond’s book sounds amazing and right up my alley of subjects that interest me. I think I might be excited for him on TCR this week the most.

  • karenatasha

    @lockhart43
    I’ve seen several episodes, actually. I’m always a bit mixed about it. But I agree with you about not necessarily wanting the viewers to root for, or identify with, the characters. That’s fine with me; I don’t think there’s any reason the audience has to, although that does seem to bother some people.

    I do think the actors are great. I just wish her representation of the world were a little wider and more diverse.