Milton Friedman Teaches Phil Donahue

Monday, April 12, 2010
Posted in category Media

Here’s a classic smash from Milton Friedman on the Phil Donahue show. Donahue is left speechless by Friedman’s response to his questions about the free market system. Yes, Friedman, in many aspects, went wrong in his career, but this clip shows Friedman as the brilliant and tough teacher as he takes Donahue to the woodshed. Particularly striking is his comment to Donahue’s question about “greed”: “Is it really true that political self-interest is nobler somehow than economic self-interest?”

Sure, Donahue was a boob, even when he was right (such as war), but just 30 years later, can you imagine any television talk show host bringing on an intellectual with the caliber of Milton Friedman? Compare Oprah or Sally Jesse Raphael. Donahue also interviewed Ayn Rand. In light of that, I have many fond memories of the Phil Donahue show. My Mom had his show on all the time, so I watched it, whenever possible, from the time I was about ten years old. I learned much from the debate/discussion on his show. In fact, I remember this particular Donahue show, back in the days of militia media attention, like it was yesterday.

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3 Responses to Milton Friedman Teaches Phil Donahue

  1. Alex says:

    April 12th, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Phil Donahue, in retrospect, comes off an MIT lecturer in Astrophysics oday’s Oprahs, Bill O’Reillys, Sean Hannitys, Michael Savages, and Tavis Smileys. Notice how Donahue let Friedman get a whole thought and statement out without constantly interrupting him, or reducing the conversation to the puerility of “Pinheads and Patriots” (like Fox) or “Worst Person in the World” (MSNBC). It’s hard to believe that back then it was PBS, of all networks and places, that gave Milton Friedman his own series (“Free to Choose”). The interview show as we know it got hit in the gut by Oprah in the mid-1980s and then clobbered on the head and permanently brain damaged by the likes of Morton Downey in the late-80s.

    I have to give Donahue credit for when he temporarily put aside his Alan Alda-esque, mushy, sensitive guy persona, and showed some anti-Iraq War cajones to Bill O’Reilly on Fox News.

    “I’m not Jeremy Glick, Billy Boy.” See Phil. See Phil kick Bill’s ass. See Bill run. Go, Phil, Go!

    Although we now sound like our parents to talk about the “good ol’ days” when we were kids and teens and how much more intelligent a show like Donahue’s was (or William F. Buckley’s “Firing Line” on the right), the truth is those WERE the good ol’ days compared to what modern media and public schools have done to younger minds. When “The Daily Show” is what passes for the most intelligent discourse on mainstream TV, then America has truly “jumped the shark.” The slide started back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the focus moved aways from static-camera interview shows (like the pre-Russert “Meet the Press” or ABC’s “Issues and Answers”) to putting the focus on making political and cultural interview as glitzy and glib as Monday Night Football sideline journalism (starting with “The McLauglin Group” and “Crossfire” and going downhill from there).

  2. Alex says:

    April 12th, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Sorry, I did a cut and paste. That first line should have read “Phil Donahue, in retrospect, comes off like an MIT lecturer in Astrophysics compared to today’s Oprahs, Bill O’Reillys, Sean Hannitys, Michael Savages, and Tavis Smileys.”

  3. Bonnie B Matheson says:

    April 13th, 2010 at 8:25 am

    This is such a great little clip. It should be shown especially to young people who feel that Capitalism is somehow to blame for each of the poor. They have an unrealistically idealistic view of government as Savior. As if the government cared what happened to these people any more than a corporation would. What happens to people is largely dependent on who is helping them. In other words the individual who is helping a well-fare mother, or a disabled vet is the one whose attitude going to make it pleasant or unpleasant experience. People do things in their own self interest and this is NOT a bad thing unless they are bad people. When history has so clearly shown the failure of socialistic governments, it just boggles the mind that people are still trying to supplant capitalistic societies with socialism.

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