Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood may be America's most celebrated chair fighter, but his speech at the Republican National Convention followed a trail blazed by past chair-fighting greats.
Eastwood, speaking to an empty seat that he said held President Obama, staged a lively one-way debate with the imaginary president Thursday. Eastwood's alternately deadpan and meandering performance won over many in the convention hall, but drew widespread mockery outside it — and spawned the Twitter hashtag "Eastwooding."
Eastwood's friend, Tom Brokaw, said the man of famously few words had, this time, "had too many words." Ann Romney, trying to turn attention back to her husband's campaign, told "CBS This Morning": "We appreciated Clint’s support and he’s a unique guy and he did a unique thing last night."
But not that unique. Here's a look at the chair fighters who set the stage for Eastwood's Great Chair Debate. (All of the chairs involved declined to comment.)
The national chair-fighting craze seems to have started in March with MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell. When the attorney for Trayvon Martin's shooter bailed on an interview, O'Donnell found the best replacement he could, on short notice. Instead of speaking to Craig Sonner, he talked to the seat where Sonner would have sat.
Among his questions: Who is paying you? Did you represent George Zimmerman when he was accused of domestic violence? Do you have medical records to back up Zimmerman's claim that Zimmerman fired in self-defense?
The chair's silence was deafening.
Watch the hard-hitting interrogation:
The "Daily Show" satirist was somehow not impressed with O'Donnell's chair-grilling, telling viewers, "You know, I live in New York City. I see a lot of people yelling at chairs. None of them have TV shows."
But Stewart was clearly threatened enough by O'Donnell's skills to try to one-up him — by fighting with a floor fan. Floor fans are widely known to be more skilled debaters than chairs.
Stewart's approach showed the problem with attempting satire in our ridiculous age: It's very hard to stay ahead of constantly evolving absurdity. Stewart couldn't have imagined that within months, Eastwood would heighten the chair-fighting gimmick even further.
Watch the breezy exchange:
When Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin bailed on an interview earlier this month, the CNN host took a prim approach to chair fighting.
Morgan had hoped to question Akin about his unusual beliefs about rape and pregnancy. Unfortunately, with Akin unavailable, Morgan could only present viewers with his plush proxy.
He complimented his guest, calling it "a very nice empty chair," and refused to engage it directly. But he did issue a challenge to Akin, saying he has "open invitation" to come on his show.
"If you don't keep your promise to be on the show, then you are what we would call in Britain, 'a gutless little twerp,'" Morgan said.
Akin has yet to join the chair.
Watch the cozy exchange: