Johnny Carson, was accustomed to entertaining people. Doing skit comedy, standup comedy and interviewing other entertainers. And I’m not saying that Johnny Carson was an ignorant or uneducated man, the opposite was true and he was interested in politics and current affairs. And made fun of people in this business as part of his act. But he was accustomed to interviewing entertainers, not intellectuals like Ayn Rand. Johnny, was accustomed to interviewing people who entertained others for a living, rather than interviewing people who get paid to educate people about philosophy and history.
So when Johnny interviewed Ayn Rand in 1967 on his show, it was a step up for him and probably something he had to do a serious amount of prep work to prepare for. Like reading Ayn Rand’s books and reading articles about her, checking out any news footage about her as well. Ayn Rand, wasn’t someone who was very commonly known in Hollywood to put it mildly. The intellectuals they were familiar with, already held office and were politicians. Rather than people on the outside looking in, perhaps trying to build a counter-movement, which is what Ayn Rand was doing to a certain extent.
Ayn Rand’s, philosophy of objectivism that Libertarians today use as an inspiration for their movement, was about individual freedom. That people should look after themselves first and only after individuals are strong, than we can help others that are weak. Which I’m sure sounds selfish to Progressives who have a collectivist look at politics and life. And Ayn Rand’s philosophy in the 1960s, even in the late 60s like in 1967 when this interview was done, was not considered popular. Progressivism, especially when it came to the economy, was still the dominant political philosophy in the United States at this point.
And what Ayn Rand was preaching was the opposite of collectivism. That and I’m guessing most of the people in Johnny Carson’s audience were more Progressive than Libertarian. And that Ayn, was in a small minority compared with the rest of this crowd. So she was speaking to an unfriendly audience politically. Ayn, wasn’t the first or last politician, or philosopher that Johnny Carson interviewed. He interviewed Ron Reagan, Dick Nixon I believe, Gerry Ford, I believe Bob Dole, Bill Clinton and many others. But none of them were like Ayn Rand. Someone not only willing to believe in a philosophy, that wasn’t politically popular yet, but perhaps not even commonly known. And I give Johnny credit for that.