Christopher Hitchens gets the '60 Minutes' treatment, and survives

Christopher Hitchens was subjected to a voluntary 60 Minutes profile on Sunday night, one of the news magazine’s patented, buttery, isn’t-he-amazing? segments. It was to Hitchens’ credit that, even with a body wracked by cancer, he still ran rings around interviewer Steve Kroft and managed to be nearly as lovable as the considerably hairier polar bears that followed him on the show.

Kroft took viewers on a brief tour of the Hitchens legend: champeen Oxford debater; daredevil journalist and take-no-prisoners essayist; full-service attacker of Henry Kissinger, Bill Clinton, and Mother Theresa; Washington, D.C. bon vivant; radical-turned-George-Bush-Iraq-War supporter; aggressive atheist; legendary swiller of liquor and still smoke-smoke-smokin’ those cigarettes; recipient of a dire diagnosis of esophageal cancer.

If it sounds as though I’m making light of Hitchens’ life and causes, it’s only intended as a salute to the great man himself, who makes light of everything: He applies a witty glow to all of his public statements and his writing, even when he’s being deadly serious and ferociously combative.

The world will be a poorer place should Hitchens die from cancer; all the more reason, if this 60 Minutes piece was your introduction to him, to seek out and enjoy his work right now. I would recommend Letters to a Young Contrarian, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Hitch-22: A Memoir, and his introduction to the Penguin paperback edition of P.G. Wodehouse’s The Mating Season as starters.

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (92 total) Add your comment
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  • Summer Bay

    Who?

    • Mike

      Why would you proudly declare your ignorance?

      • hanzwa1

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    • @Mike

      Instead of calling him ignorant (idiot) why not explain who this guy is. I dont know who he is either. Ignorance isnt the person who doesnt know, its the idiot who doesnt tell him!

      • The Obvious

        “Instead of calling him ignorant (idiot) why not explain who this guy is.”

        Google “Christopher Hitchens” you lazy ignoramus.

      • Bette

        Exactly ! The interview was great by the way. Mr Hitchens is certainly one of a kind and I have enjoyed all of his Vanity Fair contributions. Agree or disagree with him, he is always a good read… and his sense of humour has remained intact.

      • Duh

        In a world with Google, Wikipedia, Twitter, etc. there is no excuse (save for laziness or lack of curiosity) for not knowing who Christopher Hitchens is.

      • Catherine

        Ah ha moment

  • LOL

    Fake Christians (read: all Republicans) hate him. Can’t wait to hear about Ken’s e-mails.

    • Jeff

      Hey! That was just unecessary. Please do not lump all republicans as fake Christians. Furthermore, many of us happen to have a tremendous respect for Christopher Hitchens and for what he has accomplished in his long career.

      • Amanda Kiwinerd

        ALL Christians are fake. Forcing themselves to pray to an imaginary magical man in the sky.

      • Bette

        Just wait till YOU get to the Pearly gates. LOL !

      • KCline

        Assuming you’re a Christian, Bette, you sure aren’t acting like one. Maybe it’s easier to judge than teach in your view.

      • Bette

        @KCline…You have got to lighten up. I grew up, and still am a practicing Christian. PS. I also love Monty Python movies. Does that make me a bad Christian ?

      • KCline

        yes

      • KCline

        yes.

      • KCline

        ^sorry for the duplicate above. But to elaborate on my answer….those movies suck.

    • dmbfan

      Also a republican, and an atheist, and a Hitch fan.

    • mjkbk

      Your statement reveals that you actually know next to nothing about Christians, Republicans, or Christopher Hitchens.

    • Corlyss

      Well, that’s certainly not true. I’m a Christian and a Republican and I love Hitchens.

    • liberalknowitalls

      I’m also a conservative atheist.

  • girlie

    do not like him! never have!

    • Anitamargarita

      Well, I certainly wouldn’t ever describe him as “loveable.” Maybe Ken was joking?

      • Bette

        Loveable in a curmudgeon sort of way, for me.

      • rini6

        I actually do think that he is charming and lovable. Nothing is more attractive than a good intellect and wit.

    • Ian

      … It is a pain in the arse if it is to be the end of Hitchens. From the very first time I saw him on TV he was a voice, a way of talking that was worth nlsteniig to. Even though he has been fearsomely wrong and is still fearsomely wrong, he is, at least, interesting. When he disagreed with Hewitt about water boarding from the POV of someone who had undergone it, it was a magic moment as Hewitt’s head script got all bent out of shape.I daresay that we won’t get all inspired by his death, which I hope doesn’t happen now, as he is still too much of a shaker upper to want some sort of nobility to be attached but he will, at least have some bloody good last words.

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  • Big Fan

    Christopher Hitchens is fantastic on so many levels. I admire him greatly for his talents, for his wit, his intelligence, and his courage especially. I am delighted he was able to see this profile in time to enjoy it, and i wish him great health. Failing that, I wish him peace. He is a very unique and special person.

    • Melly

      That was a great interview and it was nice to see the inner life of a public intellectual.

    • wiseguy

      I enjoy reading his essays which are witty, ascerbic and delightful even though I may not agree with some of his arguments. Hope he stays healthy.

    • rini6

      Actually, I don’t think that he would want peace. It wouldn’t suit him. He wants to survive to fight another day.

      • Favour

        for those from whom you fear disobedience beat them. 4:34 And slay them wheerver ye find them.. -2:191 Then fight in the cause of Allah -2:244 Fighting is prescribed for you -2:216 Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them -8:12 they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides -5:33 O Prophet, exhort the believers to fight -8:65yea, the Quran sounds like its against harm

    • Shreya

      it does differ baeucse like any other case of any other group of people you have hardball kinda folks and you have average folks and your right for anything to be forced on anyone is oppression but being a Muslim is a choice in most cases but since she was shot dead for breaking the dress code why isnt of Jordan killed as well? and i can not find your example where am i supposed to look for it?

  • JJC

    All intelligent people of all political stripes hate him because he is an idiot.

    • Bubba

      Don’t be dismissive. Hitchens is a genius. So too is Dawkins. However of the two Hitchens is the consummate orator. All the best.

      • JJC

        I agree with your last second to last statement. However, calling Hitchens and Dawkins geniuses is rather daffy.

      • The Obvious

        JJC, I won’t get into whether Hitchens is a genius. But Dawkins probably is. I’ll let Michael Shermer do the talking here:

        ” It’s been my great good fortune to meet really interesting and smart people. With almost all of them, I can say to myself, well, I’m half as smart as that guy, and if I keep working, I could get there. But every once and a while, I’ll meet someone who is on a completely different plane. I can’t even fathom how their brain works.

        This weekend, I was at the Foundation for the Future conference sponsored by Walter Kistler. Richard Dawkins got the Kistler prize. There, I felt that I was where I belonged with my colleagues … with everyone except Dawkins. Everything this guy said was on a different plane. When he spoke, it changed the whole dynamics of the discussion. Everyone referred to what he just said, for the rest of the day!”

      • Sunil

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    • Tony

      Precisely. Hitchens is an idiot. I wish him well, I feel horrible that he has this, I admire him for his fight and I sincerely hope he beats this. He is strong enough to. But as a political thinker, commentator and general person he is just horrible.

    • Amanda Kiwinerd

      JJC, have fun at your Tea Party rallies and Glenn Beck events.

      • Peter

        Amanda, your mind is incredibly narrow. Many of the most ardent Republicans I know are strongly atheist. Hitchens has nothing to do with Republican/Democrat (need I point out he isn’t even American?)

      • ZackBauer

        Technically he is an American. He was sworn in a few years ago. So no, you needn’t point it out.

      • Peter

        Well, so he did. Good for him.

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  • Cece

    Had my first nerd-crush on Hitchens…my thoughts and prayers are with him and his loved-ones!

    • Christophe

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  • J.McDonald

    @JJC…Little do you know how wrong you are.I’d take the bet the vast majority of intelligent people would agree with the sentiments of ‘Big Fan’ over yours any day.

  • BFD

    Would have liked to known him in person.

  • Matt Neffer

    I guess the main difference, Ken, is that Hitchens is a giant and you write for a f**king entertainment rag. You’re not in the same galaxy so your tone is an affront.

  • Fraser Martens

    Hitch is a smart, smart man, and a remarkably gifted writer. He’s also a conceited fathead. The two are not contradictory.

    • Jean Genie

      He certainly is very intelligent, but I find him to be very misogynist, too. I am still sorry he has to endure cancer.

  • Rob

    What has he ever been right about? The Iraq War? No. The notion that democratic movements would never sweep the Middle East? No. The idea that Barack Obama would never win an election (although I wish he hadn’t)? No. Hitchens is one of those people who has managed to burr his way into the political elite by always being wrong about everything. It’s amazing but that’s what passes for wisdom near the centers of political power in D.C. and across the world. There are innovative thinkers and intelligent people in government and out of it. But of those who reporters who cover merely political, geopolitical and larger strategic events, an astoundingly high majority have a solid track record of being wrong about just about everything they’ve ever said. All of these people, however, are always overwhelmingly confident of their wrongness. It’s amazing. Friedman, Broder, David Brooks. Hitchens, although more worldly, traveled and learned, sadly fits well within that pantheon.

    • David

      Spot on, Rob. Nice to find someone on here who can see through Hitchens’ smoke and mirrors. And while there’s no way to prove he’s also wrong about God, when he debated Christian philosopher William Lane Craig on the subject, Craig wiped the floor with him.

      • Annmarie

        I saw that debate. There was no floor wiping.

      • Jon

        Rob – Democracy in the Middle East?! Yeah, that really worked out well, didn’t it? Are you really suggesting Hitchens was wrong about that?

      • Amanda Kiwinerd

        HAHAHAHAHA! William Lane Craig was severely outclassed. Sorry, there’s no magical man in the sky who cares about your favorite football team.

      • Peter

        Jon – have you picked up a legitimate newspaper in the last month?

      • Duh

        Nonsense – Craig, like all relgious apologists, just repeats the same old arguments that have all been refuted centuries ago. If he had even one single, solitary sound argument for the existence of any god, all rational people would immediately turn into theists upon hearing and understanding it. I won’t be holding my breath.

    • JR

      I second that. It seems that a lot of these pseudo intellects garner notoriety just by contradicting what the masses believe in, and in doing so, usually creating such weak, pointless arguments that I guess only an idiot savant could dream up. God is such a broad, personal topic, that deserves openness whether it’s praising Him/Her or attempting to debunk Him/Her, but throwing Mother Theresea under the bus is not only dissing a widely loved spiritual figure, but one of modern times most renowned humanitarians. Dawkin, Hitchens and so on, can crumple themselves over their keyboards with their multiple degrees shoved up their *** and come up with some philosophical garbage about how the universe was created from rock crystals 700 quadrillion years ago, but it won’t change the fact that they’ve done virtually jack for humanity compared to what Mother Theresea, the Dalai Llama, Jewish societies, sane Islamics, and so on, have done for charity and the well-being of mankind overall.

      • Mike

        Apparently you know nothing of Mother Theresea. She was a good, old-school fundamentalist Christian, i.e. she did a hellava lot more damage than good to the sick and dieing by refusing them medical treatment (science), and instead gave them “spiritual healing” in her little prison-esc slum house of death. This is not an exaggeration, or a hyperbole, sadly. Mother Theresa was also adamantly against pre-marital sex, contraception (declared it devil’s work), amongst other typical old-testament nonsense. The reason why she was famous was because the Vatican chose her as the face for their new battle against modernity, and their decline in influence and power. She was a relic from lesser times, in which lesser people ruled, that was used as a tool by the Vatican’s clinging to it’s old ways. Did you actually watch Hitchen’s video on Theresa? YouTube it.

      • Amanda Kiwinerd

        Sorry, there’s no magical man in the sky who lets you live forever. Wishful thinking. Nice delusion you got going, though.

      • XanderLJ

        You’re a MORON!!! And everything he said about Mother Theresa (like Mike said) was 100% true!!! She’s one of the most whitewashed folk heroes in modern history, and she did WAAAY more damage than good. Hitchens was wrong about the Iraq War, and in general I disagree with him about foreign policy, but when it comes to religion he’s 100% on the money ALWAYS!!

      • David

        @Amanda- if that’s what you think God is, no wonder you don’t believe in one. I wouldn’t either.

      • Kise

        You know I thought you were smtarer than this, but you’ve really proved me otherwise.Listen buddy, you know trees serve as a function right? just like the bees have their function? Everything has it’s own function(s)Humans however, serve as the Ultimate function You say No purpose , you are a fool. Everything has a purpose relative to its existence. Everything IS function.How old are you man jeez you better start fken studying because your brain is shrinking, Devolution.

  • kenmiller51

    You call that the “60 Minutes Treatment”? No tough questions, no rebuttals to his outlandish claims–nothing like the 60 Minutes treatment of people they don’t agree with, people who actually believe in something and have reasons to support them.

    • Cheyanne

      Real brain power on display. Thanks for that anewsr!

  • Prunella Von Schleidlhaagen

    Love Hitch.

  • Brian Wallace

    Amanda Kiwinerd.

    Go home to your romance novels and your fat smelly cat.

    You are an idiot. No one loves you and you will DIE ALONE!

    God loves you, though.

    Brian

    • XanderLJ

      I love how you repulsive, maggot-infested jesusfreaks get soooo offended (i.e. piss-scared insecure) when someone points out the OBVIOUS about your fairy tale “God” delusion!! Amanda said nothing that merited your laughably nasty, and pathetically sophomoric attack (no one loves you, you’ll die alone…what are you 12, you freakshow POS???), except goof on your dumb religion fetish.

      And if there IS a God (or a Santa, or an Easter Bunny), he may love Amanda, but he’d HATE you as much as I’m sure every sane person who’s met you does, you sick twisted pathetic vomitorium excuse of a human being.

      • JR

        I don’t get why Atheists get their panties in a bunch when someone mentions God. If you don’t believe in it, why do you get so offended? As for the subject of war, the latest WW was fueled by the attempt to weed out bad genetics and create a perfect race, the Aryans. A war fueled by Godlessness—go figure.

        Love,
        Repulsive, Maggot-Infested, Jesusfreak
        (A.K.A. Non-practicing Catholic)
        I.Q. 130
        Languages:
        English, German, French, Latin.
        Number of royal bloodlines: 3

        Yeah, Atheists really give me an inferiority complex.

    • Duh

      According to the good Pastor Fred Phelps: God hates Brian Wallace.

    • peterg.

      best comment so far Brian. Amanda is quite narrow.

  • Jamomma

    Well, I am a reluctant fan. Wish him all the health and happiness in the world. Prayers have been offered for him. He hasn’t diminished by faith in God. However, he has fortified my faith in man’s ability to tell the unabashed truth. I am such a huge fan. He is responsible for the skeptic in me along with John George.

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