Editor’s Note: Current writer James Di Fiore recently launched his new podcast Blackballed with James Di Fiore. Here he explains how Noam Chomsky came to be his first guest.
Last year I emailed Noam Chomsky on a whim. I wanted to ask him if it felt strange to be stating publicly that he was voting for Joe Biden, given his lifetime of admonishing both parties as symptoms of a corrupted political landscape.
To my surprise he answered, telling me that four more years of Trump “would be a disaster,” and that if Biden won, “that’s when the real work would begin.”
Then I just took a shot in the dark, asking if he would grant me an interview once the election was over. To my further surprise, he said yes.
For those who don’t know, Noam Chomsky is a linguistics professor at MIT, a prolific political activist, the author of dozens of books, and a world renowned public intellectual. He is also considered one of the most important voices of the last 100 years, depending on who you ask. Even his detractors understand that he is not a person you want to lock horns with.
On May 6th, Chomsky was the guest on the launch episode of my new podcast, Blackballed with James Di Fiore, and the 92 year old did not disappoint, sharing his thoughts on everything from American power to what he hopes his legacy will be once he’s gone.
I had two missions going in; let him do 80 percent of the talking, and don’t try to make him laugh. Chomsky is known for serious interviews, and has deadpanned more experienced journalists than me after some off the cuff attempt at some clever one-liner.
Ignoring my own good advice, I improvised a joke at my own expense, and after spending a millisecond dying inside, Chomsky actually smiled and laughed. I quickly pivoted so as to not push my luck, and what materialized was an interesting conversation. Chomsky may be 92, but his ability to recall information, deliver it concisely, and with such a confident conviction is second to none.
We covered geopolitics, the environment, whether or not the world is run by gangsters, and issues relating to subjects like polarization, activism, militarism, and the media.
If I ever had a Bucket List of interviewees, Chomsky is the first name I’ve crossed off. I could not have asked for a better podcast launch. You can see the entire interview below.