The Talent

May 6, 2009 5:23 PM

Skadden's Cliff Sloan Tangles With Stephen Colbert

Posted by Brian Baxter


For the third time in five months, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom partner Cliff Sloan appeared on The Colbert Report on Tuesday night.

The former associate White House counsel talked about possible Supreme Court appointments, while dodging pointed questions by host Stephen Colbert, who wondered aloud whether President Obama would try and get his "beak wet" during the vacancy process like another former Chicago politician.

Sloan is no stranger to the media biz, having served as general counsel of The Washington Post's online unit and publisher of Slate Magazine prior to joining the firm last year.

Still, we wondered why he's become so popular in the halls of Comedy Central, so we gave him a ring to find out.

So how did this all come about?

I was first on in November because Stephen Colbert had decided he wanted a cabinet position [in the Obama administration]. One of his producers knew I had been involved in vetting candidates at the White House counsel's office. So I did a vet of Colbert for a cabinet position, which was a vet unlike any other. There was a lot of vet-able material.

What about the second time?

I wrote a book on the Marbury v. Madison case called The Great Decision. So they had me on in February, the week the book came out. Then I got a call on Friday to [go] on to talk about the Supreme Court vacancy.

Did you tape on Tuesday?

Yes, it was last night. They tape at around 7 or 7:30 for the broadcast later that night. The vetting one was different. That was taped a few days before and aired as a two-part series. We actually taped about two hours of [footage], which they've since released as Web-only segments because there was so much material. [Click here, here, here, and here for Parts 1 through 4 of Sloan walking Colbert through the vetting process.]

Seems like you're becoming a Colbert staple.

When I went on for my book, I got the highly-coveted 'Cliff Sloan, friend-of-the-show' label. But [Colbert] seems to be enjoying it and it's always enjoyable being on.

Does he stay in character the entire time?

He's always very funny back stage before and after the show. He'll get out of that aggressive and overbearing character backstage, but he keeps joking around. To that extent, I think that's who he is.

All interviews are condensed and edited for grammar and style.

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