In a 1971 Vidal compared the writer Norman Mailer to Charles Manson, and that December saw the two of them booked for The Dick Cavett Show. On set their feud boiled over in a series of increasingly nasty exchanges that made for great television.
Mailer: Are you ready to apologize [for the comparison]?
Vidal: “I will apologize if it hurts your feelings, of course I will.”
Mailer: “No, it hurts my sense of intellectual pollution.”
Vidal: “Well, as an expert, you should know about that.”
On another encounter at a dinner party, Mailer punched Vidal, who, knocked to the ground, retorted. “Words fail Norman Mailer yet again.”