No, this isn't a hypothetical account
of what might have been. Simply because, it was. I don't know the date of the episode
- I got a tape copy from the FBI agent
I worked with at the Mark Twain House
. (He was moonlighting
.) From the looks of the audience, it was well before I knew who Phil Donahue
was, much less Ayn Rand
. (Actually, it was May 16th, 1979 in New York City
and thanks to hatless
for being able to find that right quickly. I was almost 6. I can unequivocably state, I had no idea who Donahue was.)
I imagine Ayn, laughing girlishly, accepting the chance to be on the Donahue show despite some obvious philosophical differences - in fact because of them. (I can also imagine Dman doing the same, except perhaps without the girlish laughter.)
So there she is, sitting on the platform in front of the audience, which, by the way, was not in the studio. Anyway, there she is, calm under the lights, slowly but surely antagonizing every member of the loyal Donahue audience. There aren't many Objectivists in the crowd. A woman asks a question that starts something along the lines of "I read your books when I was younger, but then I got smarter..." and Ayn shreds her. The crowd grumbles menacingly. Right before cutting to commercial, she further raises hackles by stating that no woman should ever be President. Her reasoning? "A woman? Head of the Military? Never."
Audible hostility from the Donahuians.
Cut to commercial.
You've got to wonder about security at those things. I found the whole episode terribly amusing.