The interview did not appear in Time, though, but rather later, in Spy, the New York satirical magazine. This is because it was an entirely unsuccessful interview. Time had wanted it because Johnson is revered by the right in America as a popular historian (read and recommended by both Richard Nixon and Dan Quayle). Johnson, at home, answered eight questions. Five times he said 'Don't know'; once 'unlikely' and once 'very unlikely'. For example: Stengel - 'One of the issues that you have written about is biological determinism. Do you think that, now we're finding out more about genetic inheritances, the idea of morality is becoming less, uh, important and more a function of biology? Johnson - 'Don't know'; and: Stengel - 'Are these questions not up your alley?' Johnson (eyes closed) - 'Don't know.'
Stengel turned off his tape recorder. Johnson walked out of the room, and did not return. After half an hour, Stengel left, shouting goodbye, but getting no response. Gripping stuff. I rang Johnson to find what it had all been about. 'Who are you, Mr Nevin?' he asked. I told him. 'You are a gossip columnist,' he said. I demurred, unconvincingly. 'I have an absolute rule,' he said, 'never to talk to gossip columnists. It's nothing personal. Sorry, goodbye.' He then hung up. Stengel did bloody well, if you ask me.
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