When Events Collide: An “Uncommon Knowledge” from July, 2002 with Hitchens and Gingrich

A few days ago as part of his remembrance of Christopher Hitchens, Rob posted an episode of Uncommon Knowledge from 1998 with Hitchens and William F. Buckley. Almost immediately, Peter prompted us to go find this Uncommon Knowledge featuring the prescient pairing of Hitchens and Newt Gingrich recorded in July, 2002. The interview is fascinating for any number of reasons (we can’t get over that set — a sort of proto poli-sci man cave), but most interestingly, it captures the two men reflecting and debating the then still fresh horror of 9/11 and what they predicted it meant for our future.

To see more of Christopher Hitchens on Uncommon Knowledge, visit the archives here. 

  1. SooperMexican

    What a great find. I’d love to see the unedited version, if possible, and also if Peter has any remembrances about how the Speaker and the speaker interacted off camera?

  2. I. raptus

    I’m really going to miss Hitch.  I ordered a Johnny Walker Black (with soda, no ice) in tribute at my local bar last night and made a point of saying why.  Nobody knew who I was talking about :-(.

  3. Ben Domenech
    C

    This is an incredible conversation. So much more serious than any we have seen in this debate cycle.

  4. James Of England

    A truly excellent interview, with both speakers at their best. Gingrich’s point about fumbling holds up very well.

  5. Peter Robinson
    C
    SooperMexican: What a great find. I’d love to see …if Peter has any remembrances about how the Speaker and the speaker interacted off camera? · Dec 17 at 2:33pm

    Although at first each, was, as I recall, slightly wary of the other, by the time we all left the studio Newt and Hitch were entirely comfortable in one another’s presence. 

    One other memory–one that may prove of particular relevance now that Newt is everywhere being attacked for proving high-handed, vain, and so forth.  In all the history of Uncommon Knowledge–and we’ve shot more than 400 episodes now–only two guests have ever taken the time to walk around the studio, introducing themselves to every member of the crew. One was Ron Reagan.  Whatever you think of his politics (and I think they’re mostly mistaken), you can’t deny that Ron is as irresistibly charming as was his father. 

    The other?  Newt Gingrich.

  6. Tom Westberg

    Hitchens was as good and interesting as ever. I confess though that it was Speaker Gingrich who most impressed me — not necessarily compared to Hitchens, but when I think of his current media caricature. This was a thoughtful Newt, and not even one who needed to talk and talk and talk (perhaps it was simply impossible to attempt that when Christopher Hitchens is the other guest). 

  7. Robert Bennett

    Peter, is there video of the Ron Reagan episode?

  8. cdor

     You, Mr. Robinson, are one heck of an interviewer. Every edition of Uncommon Knowledge is simply a joy to experience…and is so because of your uncommon knowledge of the subject matter. You make your guests even more effervescent than they already were.

  9. Peter Robinson
    C
    Robert Bennett: Peter, is there video of the Ron Reagan episode? · Dec 17 at 4:14pm

    Ah, you want to send us right back into the archives?  After taking a whole day-and-a-half to find this video?  I’ll give it a try.  Ron was on with John Podhoretz.  At issue:  whether George W. Bush represented a worthy successor to Ronald Reagan.  Sparks flew.

  10. Peter Robinson
    C
    cdor:  You, Mr. Robinson, are one heck of an interviewer. Every edition of Uncommon Knowledge is simply a joy to experience…and is so because of your uncommon knowledge of the subject matter. You make your guests even more effervescent than they already were. · Dec 17 at 4:18pm

    You made my day.  Muchisimas gracias!

  11. Robert Bennett
    Peter Robinson

    Robert Bennett: Peter, is there video of the Ron Reagan episode? · Dec 17 at 4:14pm

    Ah, you want to send us right back into the archives?  After taking a whole day-and-a-half to find this video?  I’ll give it a try.  Ron was on with John Podhoretz.  At issue:  whether George W. Bush represented a worthy successor to Ronald Reagan.  Sparks flew. · Dec 17 at 6:38pm

    Oh Jeez.  That makes the archives at the hoover institution sound like a scary place (like the final scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark).  Don’t do it just for me though, I’ll be fine with the transcript.  But if you do go, then the Hitchen/Garton Ash episode would be nice to watch too.  Sorry, I feel bad asking.

  12. Blue Yeti
    C

    The video of that interview is not online, but the transcript is here.

  13. Nobody

    It’s a pity that there isn’t a mainstream broadcast or cable venue for Uncommon Knowledge, as there was for William F. Buckley’s Firing Line.  

    Speaking plainly, Fox News could easily dispense with a half-hour of its empty, screaming-heads programming and do a great public service by providing content of this quality.

  14. raycon and lindacon

    There is greater clarity and understanding of the war against aggressive “religious fascism” in this 26:55 presentation than has been communicated in the total period following 9/11 to date. 

    In fact, political correctness and genuine cowardice has muddied the waters to the point that there will never be a way of knowing if we have won, since we no longer have the slightest idea who we are fighting against.

  15. raycon and lindacon
    cdor:  You, Mr. Robinson, are one heck of an interviewer. Every edition of Uncommon Knowledge is simply a joy to experience…and is so because of your uncommon knowledge of the subject matter. You make your guests even more effervescent than they already were. · Dec 17 at 4:18pm

    Mr. Robinson is the Johnny Carson of the public policy and political universe.  He knows more than enough of the subject to make his guests knowledge shine, and has the good sense to stay out of their way while they are so shining.

    It is a unique skill set that rarely operates in front of a camera.

  16. EJHill

    Buckley.jpgPeter Robinson: Doing the Buckley “lean” early in the interview. All he needed was a clipboard on his lap…

  17. Pseudodionysius
    raycon

    cdor:  You, Mr. Robinson, are one heck of an interviewer. Every edition of Uncommon Knowledge is simply a joy to experience…and is so because of your uncommon knowledge of the subject matter. You make your guests even more effervescent than they already were. · Dec 17 at 4:18pm

    Mr. Robinson is the Johnny Carson of the public policy and political universe.  He knows more than enough of the subject to make his guests knowledge shine, and has the good sense to stay out of their way while they are so shining.

    It is a unique skill set that rarely operates in front of a camera. · Dec 18 at 8:17am

    Very, very well put.

  18. Pseudodionysius
    James Of England: A truly excellent interview, with both speakers at their best. Gingrich’s point about fumbling holds up very well. · Dec 17 at 3:10pm

    I’m quite surprised by my own reaction to this interview. My opinion of Gingrich went up, of course, though its hard to tell how that should affect my opinion of him now given the lapse in time. But, yes, I was impressed by his thoughtfulness here. 

  19. KC Mulville

    A question for Peter: I rarely agreed with Hitchens, but I always sensed that he was honest, and spoke plainly about where his convictions led him. Rob Long called Hitchens “bracing,” and that’s a perfect word. As a student of philosophy, I respected his Socratic quality … in other words, he could be a real pain in the <behind> if you were looking for a cushy assumption.&nbsp;

    Now that he’s gone …

    Anyone else (you’re willing to name) that serves that same role?&nbsp;