Whom do you most want to interview that you haven't yet? Kyla Kelim, MOBILE, ALA.
Fidel Castro certainly. Always wanted to interview a Pope. Any Pope. And J.D. Salinger, who is probably the most impossible interview to get. The Catcher in the Rye had a major impact on me. I'd ask him, "Where'd you go? Why'd you stop writing? Did you run dry after four books?" That just boggles me. That's something I could never do. Disappear from the scene.
What has allowed you to last so long on the job? Olaide Sanni, LAGOS, NIGERIA
Longevity is impossible to explain. I never wanted to do anything else but be a broadcaster. I'm talking about age 5. I wanted to be on the radio, then I wanted to be on television. I never thought I'd be seen worldwide. We almost called the book What Am I Doing Here?
Do you agree with the perception that you ask soft questions? Michael West, COPENHAGEN
Don't agree with it. I'm not there to pin someone to the wall. If I were to begin an interview with Nancy Pelosi and say, "Why did you lie about torture?" the last thing I will learn is the truth. I'd be putting them on the defensive to make me look good. At that point, they're a prop. To me, the guest is not a prop.
Are you concerned about the popularity of ideologically charged news programs? Bobby Porter BLOOMINGTON, ILL.
I'm not concerned, because all things are cyclical. Hopefully, the good, straight, thoughtful, in-depth interview will always be around. There's something I learned long ago: I never learned a thing when I was talking. So these shows where the host is on 90% of the time and the guest 10%, I don't get it.
Which interview has surprised you the most? Arzu Samur, ISTANBUL
The Watergate villain G. Gordon Liddy. I don't like to make preimpressions, but I expected not to like him. And I really liked him. I thought he was wacko, but wackos can be fun. I loved his passion. I loved his sense of humor. He was a true character and therefore duck soup for an interview.
You've taken heat for having tabloid guests on your show. How do you feel about that? Dirk Crockett OKLAHOMA CITY
I don't know that I deserve the heat, because I don't pick the guests. Never pick the guests. And a lot of times, I don't like it either. However, when the light goes on, I've got a job to do. So if we have to discuss the missing child or the beauty star who's divorcing her husband, it's the nature of the beast. You have to do it. I never throw away a show.
How many pairs of suspenders do you have? Adrienne Wood BATON ROUGE, LA.
Never counted 'em. But my guess would be--there are suspenders in New York and Washington and, of course, at my home in Los Angeles--150. But they can't be clip-ons. Every pair of pants I buy--jeans, anything--we sew in the suspender buttons.
How do you deal with guests you don't like? Peter Rai, MERRILL, WIS.
Well, I'm a professional, and my job is to be a conduit. My personal opinion does not count. I don't use the word I. It's irrelevant. The only thing that counts is the guest. So is it harder to interview someone you don't like? You bet. But you gotta suck it up.
What has been your most awkward interview? Josh Lewis LAKE ELSINORE, CALIF.