May 13, 2009

Television 1: Firing Line

When I was a child, there were three television shows that I watched faithfully:

  • Firing Line with William F. Buckley
  • The Prisoner
  • Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Now that I’ve grown up and become a college teacher, I find that many of my nerdy American colleagues shared with me the love of The Prisoner and Monty Python.  But it seems I am the only one who watched Buckley as a kid.  And that’s a pity.

Firing Line was a very plain interview show which featured a discussion between Buckley and his guests about important cultural, political, artistic, and social issues of the day.  The show fascinated me, because it was a television show about ideas in a way that no other television was.  I had seen two different types of talk shows before:  the “Dick Cavett” style in which the host would engage in polite, somewhat shallow banter, often about entertainment.  (A modern version of this is the Charlie Rose Show.)  A different style was a political talk show in which party hacks would present the party-line views to querying journalists (e.g., Face the Nation).  These shows suffered from shallowness (the dialogue rarely soars above the intellectual level one sees at cocktail hour and a certain conventionality:  rarely does one walk away from these shows with a fundamentally new perspective.

Buckley’s show was different.  He chose genuinely interesting guests, often with views that could not easily be categorized.  Buckley himself was rather far to the right, but he was also an iconoclast and original thinker.  Verbal precision was honored on these shows.  The shows were truly American in their diverse contrast of class (this is particularly true in Dame Rebecca show mentioned below.)  These shows went further than the typical “junior high civics class” view of the world that prevails even on American public television.  The focus is on the disagreement, but there is no attempt to understand nuances – and the entire matter comes off as rather simplistic.  Firing Line shows often were amazingly sophisticated, in some cases reaching the level of discourse of our better political journals (e.g., Foreign Affairs).

Recently, Firing Line recordings have begun to emerge on DVD (all selling for $8-$10 at Amazon); so far, fewer than 80 out of the 1504 broadcast have been released in this format.  I have included the synopses provided at the Hoover Institutions’s Firing Line Archives (these synopses are little gems and I think that you will enjoy reading them).  I wrote this list to help navigate the paucity of information on Amazon, and also for my own purposes.  I’ve bought all of these DVDs (I have the “collecting gene”), but I can’t claim to have watched them all yet:

  • Poverty: Hopeful or Hopeless?

    1) Harrington, Michael, 1928-  - author of The Other America

    Taped on Apr 4, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    President Johnson had just declared war on poverty, and Mr. Harrington, an avowed socialist who had started out on the staff of Dorothy Day's Catholic Worker, had been among the first to enlist. On this show (the first Firing Line taped, though not the first aired), Mr. Harrington begins by describing the despair and consequent lack of initiative engendered by poverty; WFB engages him on the issue of whether we can hope to alleviate either material or emotional poverty through government action. MH: “Being kicked around and being pushed down, living in dense, miserable housing, and dealing with cockroaches and rats are not the kinds of things that make one a balanced, content, normal, and adjusted healthy personality.” WFB: “I couldn't agree with you more. But I'm trying to raise the following question: To what extent... can we count on [a poverty program] to alleviate all these concomitant miseries?”

  • Prayer in the Public Schools

    1) Pike, James A. (James Albert), 1913-1969.   - The Right Rev., Episcopal Bishop of California

    Taped on Apr 6, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  Bishop Pike was thought of as the wild man of the Episcopal Church (by this time he had been put on trial for heresy, though he had emerged still wearing the Episcopal purple), but on this show he is genial and persuasive on the subject of school prayer specifically and the First Amendment generally. JAP: “I think [the Supreme Court Justices] use the First Amendment in a way it was never intended to be used. [The Founding Fathers] talked about establishment of religion. And they meant, really, establishment like the Church of England is. ... It was forbidding the federal agency, the Congress, from interfering with the existing states’ establishment.... I personally do not see the value of state-prescribed prayer or of the reading of the Bible, for instance, without study of the background, the context, the thoughtful criticism of the passages, in school. And I think it’s a disservice to the Church, too, because it gives parents the illusion that this side of life is being covered by the public agency when, in fact, it’s very trivial and perfunctory.”

  • Vietnam: Pull Out? Stay In? Escalate?

    1) Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968.  - Chairman of the Socialist Party of the United States

    Taped on Apr 8, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  Mr. Thomas-the grand old man of the American Left, six-time Socialist Party candidate for President-was by this point focusing all his energies on opposition to America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. This often fierce exchange, which places both men on the firing line, begins with WFB’s asking why his guest supported the Korean War but opposes the Vietnam War and goes on to explore whether it is realistic even to aspire to “contain” Communism. NT: “Mr. Buckley, you seem to believe in cruelty as a necessary adjunct to this kind of war. Your main point is that somehow we're going to contain Communism this way, and we aren’t. We may delay certain events in Communism. We’re not going to contain it. We-“ WFB: “Excuse me, was the war in Greece cruel? Did we contain the Communists in Greece?”

  • Capital Punishment

    1) Allen, Steve, 1921-  - entertainer and author

    Taped on Apr 11, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  The death penalty was under heavy attack in the courts and in public forums, and polls indicated that it was the issue that most sharply divided liberals from conservatives. Messrs. Buckley and Allen begin by discussing why this should be a touchstone issue, and progress to considerations of whether the death penalty in fact deters, and whether, even if it does, it can be morally defended. SA: “I think there are probably various reasons why conservatives generally favor capital punishment. I think one of them may be so obvious there is the traditional risk of overlooking it, and that is simply that it exists and that it has existed for a long time.”

  • Should the House Committee on Un-American Activities Be Abolished?

    1) Faulk, John Henry.  - radio and television personality, author of Fear on Trial

    Taped on Apr 21, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  Mr. Faulk “is primarily known,” WFB begins, “as a certified victim of an anti-Communist organization called Aware,” which had brought him to the attention of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Mr. Faulk had sued Aware and been awarded “the most colossal judgment in libel history”; he was now seeking the abolition of the committee. On this show, Mr. Faulk begins, in his down-home sort of voice, by quoting the then-Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan as having said that “the committee’s program so closely parallels the program of the Ku Klux Klan that there is no distinguishable difference between them,” and we’re off to the races.

  • The Prevailing Bias

    1) Susskind, David, 1920-  - television producer and personality

    Taped on May 2, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary: The tone is set in the first few minutes, when Mr. Susskind responds to the introduction (in which WFB had said, among other things, “Mr. Susskind is a staunch liberal. If there were a contest for the title Mr. Eleanor Roosevelt, he would unquestionably win it”) by saying: “I must say that I regard that introduction as somewhat rude and insulting, Mr. Buckley. I had hoped, on the occasion of your having your own television program, you would abandon your traditional penchant for personal bitchiness and stick to facts and issues; but evidently your rude behavior is congenital and compulsive. And so I forgive you.” But among the billingsgate there is serious discussion of the current offerings on the airwaves, the tendency of the Jewish community to resist the anti-Communist movement, and more.

  • The New Frontier: The Great Society

    1) Goodwin, Richard N.  - sometime speechwriter for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, currently a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies at Wesleyan University

    Taped on May 6, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  Mr. Goodwin was present at the creation-as WFB reminds us, he is credited with supplying “that ominous phrase, ‘The Great Society’ ”-and he defends the Johnson program ably in this good-tempered session. RG: “Well, I think the Great Society ...represents a change or a breaking point from the ideas of the New Deal. I think the essential idea behind the New Deal was that rising prosperity, more equitably distributed among the people, would solve most of the problems of the country.... Now, having succeeded-not completely, but to quite a degree-in that effort ... we find it doesn’t solve the major problems, the kinds of problems you talked about in your campaign [for Mayor of New York] ...and that now we have to turn our attention, not only ... to relief of the poor or dispossessed, but to the quality of life of every American .…”

  • McCarthyism: Past, Present, Future

    1) Cherne, Leo, 1912-  - Executive Director of the Research Institute of America, Chairman of the Executive Committee of Freedom House

    Taped on May 16, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  Mr. Buckley seeks, with his old friend and adversary Mr. Cherne, to explore, as he puts it, why Joseph McCarthy’s “oversimplifications were judged to be almost unique and highly damaging ... whereas the contemporary oversimplifications of, say, a Harry Truman, or, before that, of a Franklin Roosevelt, or subsequently of a Lyndon Johnson, are not seen as that offensive.” A rich conversation, full of detail. LC: “Well, to suggest, for example, that General Marshall lied about his whereabouts on the morning of Pearl Harbor, and to suggest, as Senator McCarthy did, that in fact he was meeting Maksim Litvinov at the Washington airport when in fact this was not true--this is not oversimplification in the normal language of political discourse.”

  • Vietnam: What Next?

    1) Lynd, Staughton.  - Assistant Professor of History at Yale University, anti- Vietnam War activist

    Taped on May 23, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary: Mr. Lynd had recently visited Hanoi – to “propagandize for the Vietcong,” Mr. Buckley suggests; to “clarify, if we could, the approach to peace negotiations from the other side,” Mr. Lynd insists. A spirited exchange with a scholar whose specialty is “the Radical Tradition in America before 1900.” WFB: “Listen, Professor, let’s stop dropping these little statistical gems around the place. What Eisenhower said when he used the term 80 per cent was that 80 per cent of the [Vietnamese] people would have joined in any war against the French. He didn't say that 80 per cent were in favor of Ho Chi Minh….” SL: “Well, what President Eisenhower said, in fact, ... is that at the time of the end of the war against the French, in 1954, ... 80 per cent of the people of Vietnam as a whole would have voted for Ho Chi Minh in an election.” WFB: “As an alternative to Bao Dai. Ho Chi Minh had not started his rather systematic euthanasia of people who disagreed with him, however, as of 1954. He was considered the George Washington of that area.”

    Note:  transcript available here.

  • The Future of States’ Rights

    1) Golden, Harry, 1902-  - journalist, radio and television commentator, editor and publisher of a weekly paper, The Carolina Israelite

    Taped on May 23, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  A lively discussion that begins with the “states’ rights” movement in Mr. Golden’s adopted South and deepens to cover the origins of our federal system and the way it has evolved. WFB: “Aren’t you going to acknowledge at least this much tonight: that there are people who bear no ill will whatsoever to the Negro, who nevertheless believe that Jefferson and Madison ... had something interesting to say when they devised the federal system? ...” HG: “The Founding Fathers could be forgiven, Mr. Buckley, for not having known that we would ... turn an agricultural society into an industrial society.…” WFB: “They can be forgiven for not predicting Earl Warren, for that matter.” HG: “But, however, they were wonderful men ... because the Constitution they devised was not statutes, it was a pattern of behavior. And a pattern which in their tremendous wisdom they figured that maybe things will come about that will require constant change.”

  • Bobby Kennedy and Other Mixed Blessings

    1) Kempton, Murray, 1917-  - veteran newspaperman

    Taped on Jun 6, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  The first Firing Line appearance of Mr. Kempton, of whom WFB says that he “is the finest writer in the newspaper profession,” but “his specialty is not, in this critic’s opinion, logic.” On the subject of Bobby Kennedy’s motivations in attacking Lyndon Johnson, however (Johnson “cannot win with Robert Kennedy because he’s William of Orange”), these two old friends and adversaries see pretty much eye to eye. As Mr. Kempton puts it, “[RFK] lacks his brother’s real appreciation for people who were a little older than he was and a little more stable and a little more serious. It seems to me that his radicalism is a total hangup on the young.... And what his brother would have regarded as nonsense in conduct, he refuses to regard as nonsense as long as it isn't done by somebody who is older than 25 years of age.”

  • The Future of the American Theater

    1) Merrick, David, 1911-  - theater producer

    Taped on Jun 6, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  Mr. Merrick is not just any producer but, as WFB puts it, “the most successful producer on Broadway” - and one whom the critics have accused of “inveigling audiences into going to [his shows] ... and the audiences are thereupon so ashamed of their gullibility in succumbing to Mr. Merrick’s publicity, they will laugh at bad jokes, allow their hearts to break at the sight of a valentine, and leave the theater humming untuneful songs.” (Mr. Merrick asks to correct the record: “I can’t recall that I’ve ever had a bad joke in one of my plays, or an untuneful song, or that I’ve ever produced a bad play.”) The conversation, rich with anecdote, winds up being less about the future of the theater than about the relation of the critic, on the one hand, to the theater company and, on the other hand, to the audience - “sort of a necessary evil,: says Mr. Merrick. “... So, I bark at the critics and snipe at them, that’s part of the game, because I think I have the right to criticize them if they have the right to criticize my product.”

  • The Future of Conservatism

    1) Goldwater, Barry M. (Barry Morris), 1909-1998.  - Republican former (and future) Senator from Arizona

    Taped on Jun 9, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  Under Arizona law, Mr. Goldwater had had to give up his Senate seat to run for the Presidency, and so at the moment he was a private citizen - though still, even after his disastrous defeat, the acknowledged leader of the conservative wing of the Republican Party. This rich conversation ranges from the specific and immediate (Medicare, the prospects for the 1968 election) to the general (Has too much power accrued to the Presidency? How can it be curbed?). BG: “I think the country has become pretty much a two-term country. So I think it’s pretty much up to the President. If he decides to run again, the chances of the Republicans beating him are not excellent. However, if he keeps on with his lack of success in Vietnam, the downfall of NATO, ... the growing cost of living in our country, the chances get better. But we don’t like to win on those kinds of chances.”

  • The Role of the Church Militant

    1) Coffin, William Sloane.  - The Rev., Presbyterian minister, Chaplain of Yale University

    Taped on Jun 27, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary: WFB and his guest - an old friend and adversary from undergraduate days and now a Presbyterian minister - agree that the Christian Church in all its denominations is in trouble, increasingly ignored by the young and regarded as irrelevant. Mr. Coffin, however, argues that this is largely because the churches have not taken up the cause of civil rights for black Americans; Mr. Buckley maintains that it has more to do with their ignoring the oppression behind the Iron Curtain. One sample: WSC: “I'll tell you, Bill, why James Baldwin is down on the Church. And Louis Lomax and also many of the rest of [the black leaders]. Because they have told me, ‘Every time we see that cross we think, There’s a place where they call us niggers.’ The primary problem of the Church in our time is not that people don’t believe in God, it’s that the prosperous Church in our time has failed to make common cause with the sufferers of this world.”

  • Why Are the Students Unhappy?

    1) Bikel, Theodore.  - actor, folk singer

    Taped on Jun 27, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  Student unrest was not yet at its most virulent, but many campuses had seen sit-ins and other disruptions. WFB posits that a chief cause of the problems is adult unwillingness to enforce discipline. Mr. Bikel, who had grown up in a kibbutz in Israel but quickly rebelled against its strictures, posits that the younger generation must be left free to develop its own values-even if these do not include what the older generation would call civility. TB: “Do you really think that we live in the kind of an age where ... a parent can obstinately cling to the belief that the values of today are not substantially different from the values of yesterday?” WFB: “But the parents are right.” TB: “I knew that you would say that.”

  • Senator Dodd and General Klein

    1) Dodd, Thomas J. (Thomas Joseph), 1907-1971.  - Democratic Senator from Connecticut; sometime prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials

    Taped on Aug 22, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  Senator Dodd had been accused by the muckraking columnist Drew Pearson of having had improper dealings with one General Julius Klein, an agent of the West German government - as WFB paraphrases the Pearson charge, “instead of serving his constituents in Connecticut and the nation as a whole, Senator Dodd has been primarily concerned to serve the interests of General Julius Klein.” This old controversy doesn’t wear as well as some, but along the way we get interesting insights into the propriety of Americans representing foreign countries (as WFB points out, John Foster Dulles and Dean Acheson each did at one time or another) and into how a newspaper columnist with an axe to grind and a Senate investigating committee can work hand in hand. TD: “Unfortunately, the terminology ‘foreign agent’ has an ugly connotation, I think, for most people -the two-peaked-hat character who’s spying on Washington. The truth of the matter is that there are many distinguished, celebrated lawyers and citizens who are representatives of foreign governments, and they serve a very useful purpose.”

  • Extremism

    1) Schary, Dore.  - playwright, theater and film producer, sometime head of MGM Studios; National Chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B‘nai B‘rith

    Taped on Aug 22, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary;A crackling debate on political extremism, Right and Left. It is our host’s contention that Mr. Schary and his organization are rather more alert to the former than to the latter: “It’s awfully hard to discuss these questions, Mr. Schary, because you have been, I think, so amiable and so reasonable and so soft-spoken; but when you get on the typewriter, it sort of comes out different.” Why, for instance, do Mr. Schary and the ADL regularly attack the John Birch Society and the Ku Klux Klan (and point out that some of their members actively supported Barry Goldwater's campaign) but not attack the equal and opposite extremism of Women’s Strike for Peace or the Fair Play for Cuba Committee or the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee? DS: “Nobody's ever asked me to write anything about it ... Not everything I say, you see, gets into print.”

  • Civil Rights and Foreign Policy

    1) McKissick, Floyd B. (Floyd Bixler), 1922-   - Executive Director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)

    Taped on Aug 22, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  Mr. McKissick had taken over the leadership of CORE from James Farmer and had led the organization in a more militant direction, and not only concerning race relations within the United States. As WFB puts it, his guest proceeds on the assumption “that there is a nexus between” civil rights and America’s foreign policy. Hence, for example, Mr. McKissick had visited Cambodia and had determined that American bombing there was unjustified. This often heated exchange begins with the Henry Wallace movement of 1948 and goes on from there. WFB: “The point is whether you are going to exercise the kind of prudence that will keep CORE from perhaps becoming what the Progressive Party of 1948 became, which is simply a pawn of the Soviet Union.” FM: “Well, I know a lot of people who worked in that campaign for Wallace who were not Communists, and ... there were many good people. I think to put a label on people, I’ve never been one who wanted to put a label on people....”

  • The President and the Press

    1) Salinger, Pierre.  - Press Secretary to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson; briefly Democratic Senator from California; author of With Kennedy

    Taped on Sept 12, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  A masterly performance from Mr. Salinger, who reacts smoothly, very smoothly, to Mr. Buckley’s attempts to get him to admit that the press generally gave President Kennedy a free ride. PS: “The objective of a Presidential Press Conference is not, in my opinion, for reporters to have the opportunity to embarrass and harass the President, but rather to elicit from him the information which is of value to the country.... I’m getting a new vision on my ability at the White House, and I must say that I’m indebted to you for it, because if I was as successful as you say I was, then, obviously, my services should be sought by others who have not quite come around to see me since the days of the ’64 debacle [when he lost his Senate seat to George Murphy].”

  • The Playboy Philosophy

    1) Hefner, Hugh M. (Hugh Marston), 1926-   - Editor and Publisher of Playboy

    Taped on Sept 12, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  Between these two antagonists one might have expected a heated debate, but what we get instead is a serious discussion of sexual ethics in the latter part of the 20th century. HH: “The philosophy really I think is an anti-Puritanism, a response really to the puritan part of our culture....” WFB: “I’m not worrying about whether you reject Cotton Mather's accretions on the Mosaic Law, but whether you reject the Mosaic Law. Do you reject, for instance, monogamy? Do you reject the notion of sexual continence before marriage? ...” HH: “Well, I think what it really comes down to is an attempt to establish a ... new morality, and I really think that's what the American ... sexual revolution's really all about. It’s an attempt to replace the old legalism. It’s certainly not a rejection of monogamy as such, but very much an attempt- In the case of premarital sex, there really hasn't been any moral code in the past except simply that thou shalt not. And-“ WFB: “Well, that’s a code, isn't it?” HH: “Well, perhaps. I don't think it’s a very realistic one.”

  • Should Labor Power Be Reduced?

    1) Riesel, Victor.  - syndicated columnist specializing in labor affairs

    Taped on Sept 19, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  Mr. Riesel, as Mr. Buckley recounts in his introduction, “considers himself... a militant unionist”; despite, or because of, this, he is relentless in his exposure of union corruption, which is what led one of the corrupted, in 1956, to throw acid in his face, blinding him but by no means putting him out of action. An illuminating discussion of the history and present of trade unionism in this country. VR: “Bill, the whole business of using the word ‘metaphysical’ with George Meany has so discombobulated me, I'm going to have to recollect all my thoughts. But no, seriously, the fact is that when you're talking about new laws, I mean the Sherman Act, the Clayton Act ..., you're going back 85 years to an era when ... the robber baron had the power ... Sure, you have a parallel now, there's enormous industrial power in the trade-union movement, but we have laws, and I say, enforce those laws.”

  • Civilian Review Board: Yes or No?

    1) Kheel, Theodore Woodrow.  - lawyer specializing in labor-management relations

    Taped on Oct 7, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  The hottest of many hot issues in New York City in the first year of the Lindsay administration - and in a period when the major cities of America were erupting with race riots - was whether there should be a civilian-dominated review board overseeing the police. Mayor Lindsay had made establishing such a board an important part of his mayoral campaign and had instituted it in July; Mr. Kheel ably defends it as affording protection (especially for minorities) against police brutality without hampering their legitimate law-enforcement capability. Mr. Buckley, who had made opposition to the board an important part of his campaign against Mr. Lindsay, quotes J. Edgar Hoover as saying of Rochester, N.Y., a city with a civilian review board, that “the police were so careful to avoid accusations of improper conduct that they were virtually paralyzed.” Note: A month after this show, New York City's voters rejected the board 2 to 1.

  • The Failure of Organized Religion

    1) Weiss, Paul, 1901-  - Sterling Professor of Philosophy at Yale University

    Taped on Nov 14, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  When Mr. Buckley meets his old philosophy teacher on Firing Line, it's thrust and parry from the start: WFB: “Tonight, Professor Weiss seeks to inform God that it was a mistake to organize religion. Organized religion, he will argue, has failed.” PW: “I don’t remember when God organized religion. Is there any time when God organized religion?” WFB: “Well, the situation was like this: There was God and there was Peter, you see-” PW: “I thought they were distinct.” WFB: “They were.” PW: “Oh, good! Now-then what?”

  • Sports, Persecution, and Christians

    1) Lunn, Arnold Henry Moore, Sir, 1888-1974.   - author, sportsman, inventor of the slalom

    Taped on Nov 28, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  Sir Arnold was campaigning to persuade the Western world to stop engaging in sports contests (principally the Olympic Games) with Communist countries. This deep and rich conversation engages Christians’ failure of nerve, as Sir Arnold sees it, in confronting what we would come to know as the Evil Empire. WFB: “Sir Arnold, the saying is that sports and politics don't mix. Do you agree?” AL: “Well, it depends what you mean by politics. The old classical Olympic Games were restricted, in the words of Herodotus, to those of common temples and sacrifices and like ways of life. The barbarians were excluded. The classical Greeks didn’t regard that as a political difference, but the difference between civilized people and barbarians. When I broke off relations with the Nazis in skiing, I didn’t consider the difference between myself and Hitler was a political difference. It was a difference between a civilized man and an assassin.”

  • The Warren Report: Fact or Fiction?

    1) Lane, Mark.  - lawyer, author of Rush to Judgment

    Taped on Dec 1, 1966 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  While many people had been skeptical of the Warren Report’s conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of President Kennedy, Mr. Lane’s book was the first to lay out the argument seriously. He defends himself ably in this spirited exchange. ML: “I take really the same position Alfreda Scoby, one of the lawyers for the Warren Commission, takes, and that is, had Oswald lived, he could not have been proven guilty, had he faced trial, based upon the evidence the Commission was able to secure.” WFB: “And of course Warren says that he was a practicing district attorney for ten or twelve years and he could have gotten a conviction in 48 hours with the evidence. You simply disagree with him professionally.” ML: “That’s nonsense. It would take longer than that to pick a jury, of course.” WFB: “Do you think Warren should be impeached?” ML: “I don't think he should be impeached. I think the report should be impeached.”

  • LBJ and the Intellectuals

    1) Morgenthau, Hans Joachim, 1904-  - Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago

    Taped on Jan 12, 1967 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  A rich discussion of our political culture, starting with the Johnson Administration’s confused objectives in Vietnam (HM: “Does it want self-determination for South Vietnam at the risk of a Communist takeover, or does it want to stop Communism at any price, even at the price of self-determination?”) and ranging far and wide. WFB: “Well, then, how do you account for the enthusiasm of the intellectuals for Mr. Kennedy, when in fact it could be demonstrated that his own rhetoric and actions were at least as schizophrenic as President Johnson’s?” HM: “It’s a very good question. I addressed myself to that question in ‘61.... The intellectuals ... had been in the wilderness for eight years and all of a sudden, here comes Mr. Kennedy, Harvard-educated, surrounded by members of the Harvard faculty-there were a few from Yale, in order to satisfy you, but very few, so you were not very much satisfied. And of course many intellectuals, not myself included, thought this was the golden Augustan age for intellectuals.”

  • Academic Freedom and Berkeley

    1) Taylor, Harold, 1914-  - former President of Sarah Lawrence College; sometime Professor of Philosophy and Aesthetics at the University of Wisconsin

    Taped on Jan 16, 1967 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  We eventually get to Berkeley-where the Free Speech Movement and associated radicalisms had completely broken down academic discipline-but before that, we have a never-the-twain-shall-meet discussion of which views might and which might not, under the tenets of academic freedom, disqualify a scholar from being hired by a university. WFB: “You, despising racism as much as I do, are prepared to assert that no one who is a racist actually would get into a college of which you were president, but that in fact people can be well-qualified Communists.” HT: “... there is a sharp distinction to be made between a philosophy of racism, affirming the notion that there is one race superior to another, ... and a political philosophy which one identifies as Communism. I think you have to talk about those in different categories.”

  • The Role of the Advocate

    1) Bailey, F. Lee (Francis Lee), 1933-   - criminal defense lawyer

    Taped on Jan 19, 1967 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  An often surprising exploration of criminal jurisprudence with a guest who, as Mr. Buckley puts it, “if any of you should commit a murder ... is your man.” WFB: “Do you believe that the right to refuse to testify is a right that is integral to the whole process of the presumption of innocence?” FB: “Yes, it’s as integral as it is illogical.” WFB: “... And why is it illogical?” FLB: “The most efficient way to try a man is to put him on the stand first and ask him what he knows about the case; then if more evidence is needed, put that on, too. The defendant always knows, except in very rare cases of clear insanity, whether or not he is guilty or at least whether or not he committed the acts charged. His degree of guilt may be fixed with some inference or some judgment by the jury, but he would be the easiest source of information, and in some countries he's called first.” WFB: “Well, do you understand yourself to be an advocate of the cause of defendants?” FLB: “Just an advocate. I could try a case from either side of the fence.”

  • The Future of the UN

    1) Plimpton, Francis T. P. (Francis Taylor Pearsons), 1900-1983.  - lawyer with Debevoise, Plimpton; until recently Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

    Taped on Jan 19, 1967 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  The United Nations had been energetically debating the right of Rhodesia to declare independence unilaterally and the right of South Africa to continue to exercise its League of Nations mandate over South West Africa. But was anybody listening? A serious discussion with a man whose public career began with the Reconstruction Finance Corporation in 1932. FP: “In the case of South West Africa you have that very unfortunate decision of the International Court of Justice, which after six years of deliberation, decided that it didn’t have jurisdiction over the South West Africa case.” WFB: “Rather, the plaintiff didn't have standing.” FP: “That’s right. They once held four or five years ago that there were very fine distinctions here. One has to dance on the point of a pin to get them entirely.”

  • LBJ and Vietnam

    Guest(s)
    1) Hartke, Vance.  - Democratic Senator from Indiana

    Summary:  As WFB introduces him, Senator Hartke “is perhaps best known, at this point in his career, as one of the leaders in the growing army of former friends and admirers of Lyndon Johnson.” This crackling exchange focuses on the main source of his and the others’ disaffection, Vietnam. VH: “I don’t know whether you can say that or not [about the previous November's elections in Vietnam].... If you have some special information source that I do not have available to me-“ WFB: “You have the U.S. Government.” VH: “The government’s been wrong on so many things it’s hard to tell. The colossal blunder that they made in the cost of this war, for example, when they tried to ridicule my statement in front of the Finance Committee ... Well, they come back to this in January and they admit that this is true.”

  • Black Power

    1) Hentoff, Nat.  - journalist, author of Our Children Are Dying

    Taped on Mar 7, 1967 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  Mr. Hentoff had, Mr. Buckley tells us, written that “We must have black power to overcome white power.” What exactly is meant by black power? Does it matter whether the person talking about it is the Harlem teacher who is the subject of Mr. Hentoff’s book, or Elijah Muhammad? And why are the New York Times and the New York Post so chary of it? NH: “I suppose they think of the doctrine as a racist doctrine and the corollary concern seems to be that thereby the Negroes will alienate their good white friends and make things much more difficult for the coalition - that luminous coalition of labor, the Church, and civil-rights groups and the like which is apparently about to end the final verse of We Shall Overcome.” In fact, suggests Mr. Hentoff, what black power is properly about is the power of blacks to have some say in the running of their own neighborhoods and their own children’s schools.

  • Is There a Role for a Third Party?

    1) Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano) Jr., 1914-1988.  - Manager of the Fiat-Roosevelt Automobile Company; unsuccessful Liberal Party candidate for Governor of New York

    Taped on Mar 8, 1967 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  Despite his own defeat, Mr. Roosevelt answers the title question with an emphatic “Yes.” “I think that the role of the third party has been, especially the Liberal Party - It has been often said in jest that its role in New York politics has been to keep the Democratic Party honest and the Republican Party more liberal. Now, I suppose you could turn that to say that the Conservative Party, on whose line you ran for Mayor a year and a half ago-their role, I suppose, would be to make the Republican Party more the party of McKinley, or Adam Smith, and-” WFB: “Are you against Adam Smith?” FDR: “I think that he’s a bit out of date.”

  • The World of LSD

    1) Leary, Timothy Francis, 1920-  - founder of the League for Spiritual Discovery

    Taped on Apr 10, 1967 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  We all remember Dr. Leary as a proselytizer for LSD; we’ve mostly forgotten that he had started out as a doctor of clinical psychology and that he had made LSD the basis of a “new religion.” On this show, he makes his opening statement before he ever says a word, by appearing not in a business suit but in a flower child get-up-ruffled shirt, no jacket or tie. He argues that WFB is confusing psychedelic drugs, which Dr. Leary says “intensify consciousness,” with opiates and alcohol, “something that is an escape, something that takes you away from reality.” WFB: “Let’s go ahead and agree that LSD seems to be in some particulars different from other opiates or drugs or chemicals, at the same time agreeing that LSD is a departure from the normal world-” TL: “But what do you mean by ‘normal world’? You mean Harry Truman! Is that normal?”

  • Censorship and the Production Code

    1) Preminger, Otto.  - veteran film producer

    Taped on Apr 10, 1967 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  A discussion of artistic freedom and censorship with a leading producer, one of whose films (The Moon Is Blue) had run into trouble with the Motion Picture Production Code. A spirited discussion with a man who, despite the modern-Americanness of his films (including Anatomy of a Murder and The Man with the Golden Arm), retains, however unpresciently, an Old World sense of the order of things: “I have said that an immoral film could not be successful. I think there is morality built into any dramatic medium, whether it's a play or a television show. You cannot mention one successful play or film where the bad principle won.”

  • The Regular in Politics

    1) De Sapio, Carmine.  - former Democratic official in New York City

    Taped on May 1, 1967 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  Mr. De Sapio was the Tammany Hall “boss” defeated in 1963 by a young “reform Democrat” named Edward Koch. WFB attempts in this hour to explore how party leaders actually wield their power, but Mr. De Sapio is wary and can’t be drawn. WFB: “Suppose I had been a district leader and said, ‘Mr. De Sapio, I love you like a brother, but, in fact, I want Adlai Stevenson nominated [as opposed to JFK].’ What happens to me? Do I get thrown in the East River?” CDS: “You are applauded for your candor.” WFB: “You are not suggesting that you wouldn’t put-pressure on me? Unless you were in a position to put pressure on me, Mr. Kennedy wouldn’t be so concerned to get your support-isn’t that the way it works?” CDS: “Not necessarily.” WFB: “I’m not necessarily against pressure, I just want to know more about the mechanics-” CDS: “I don’t think that’s the proper word; I think that a better word would be an understanding.”

  • How to Protest

    1) Macdonald, Dwight.  - journalist, critic, columnist for Esquire, author of Memoirs of a Revolutionist

    Taped on May 1, 1967 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  Mr. Macdonald had recently been an organizer of the
    Step Out Movement”-i.e., to step out of a hall where Vice President Humphrey would be speaking, in protest against the Vietnam War. This show offers a fast-paced duel between two longtime adversaries. WFB: “Well, Mr. Macdonald, why don't we try to isolate those forms of protest that you disagree with? You would disagree with, let’s say, shooting the President?” DM: “Yes.” WFB: “Would you disagree with forming the equivalent of an Abraham Lincoln Brigade to go to North Vietnam to fight on the side of the Vietcong?” DM: “Yes, I would.” WFB: “Would you disapprove of discounting from your income tax that sum of money we have roughly spent on defense?” DM: “I approve of that. I haven’t done it, however, because it occurred to me that the net result would be that they would get the money anyway plus a certain amount of penalties, which in effect would amount to more.”

  • Is It Possible to Be a Good Governor?

    1) Reagan, Ronald.  - Republican Governor of California

    Taped on Jul 6, 1967 (Los Angeles, CA)

    Summary:  This first appearance of Ronald Reagan on Firing Line took place six months after he had been sworn in as governor. “There is much speculation,” WFB begins, “on the subject of his future, speculation which I intend to avoid, because the purpose of this program is to ask whether it is possible to be a good governor. By that I mean this: Are we now so dependent on the Federal Government that the individual state is left without the scope to make its own crucial decisions?” A meaty discussion ranging from the way the states in turn squeeze the local communities, to comparative welfare payments in different states, to a favorite subject of WFB’s: as Mr. Reagan puts it, “I know I’m accused of oversimplifying, but it doesn’t make sense to me for the Federal Government to ... insist that the only solution to our local problems is for them to take the money and then dispense it back to you in grants in which they tell you how to spend it from Washington, D.C. And of course, like an agent for a Hollywood actor, there's a certain carrying charge that’s deducted in Washington before you get it back again.”

  • Vietnam Protests

    1) Spock, Benjamin, 1903-  - MD, author of the perpetually best-selling Baby and Child Care, currently a full-time protestor against nuclear weapons and the Vietnam War

    Taped on Jun 26, 1967 (New York City, NY)

    Summary: Dr. Spock, Mr. Buckley begins by recounting, has said that the threat to our children from “nuclear annihilation” is “a thousand times greater than all the dangers from the usual children’s diseases.” So, “I’d like to begin by asking Dr. Spock whether he carries in his head a comparison of the number of people who have died during this century from disease in contrast to those who have died, not from war, but from persecution, for instance the 6 million Jewish dead in Nazi Germany.” (The answer is, No, he doesn't.) There is sometimes more heat than light generated here, but whether one views Dr. Spock as specimen or hero, the exchanges are fascinating.  BS: “I don't know Bettina Aptheker but I have met Stokely Carmichael on a number of occasions, and I got the feeling he is a very sincere and America-loving person, even though he says things that distress some people from time to time.” WFB: “He’d be incensed if you called him an America-lover. I mean that quite seriously. For the last two years he’s been going around the country begging people to believe that he hates America, and here you are accusing me of taking him seriously.”

  • The Decline of Anti-Communism

    1) Schwarz, Fred, 1913-  - MD, lecturer against Communism

    Taped on Jun 29, 1967 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  WFB introduces his guest as a full-time anti-Communist who “has never made it easy for his critics. He is infuriatingly sober and ... he has shown an understanding of the humorous dimension of it all.”  This show offers a rich discussion between two deep students of the subject, starting with Dr. Schwarz’s brilliant account of Nikita Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin in 1956. FS: “What it revealed about Khrushchev and his allegiance to Communist doctrine is possibly more significant than what it revealed about Stalin.... Now, how did [Khrushchev] discuss their [Stalin's victims’] guilt or innocence? He didn’t mention one of them by name ... He got right to basic Communist fundamentals: he said, I investigated their class of social origin, and 60 per cent were working class ... therefore it is inconceivable that there could have been 70 per cent treasonable.... And in that one statement, Khrushchev revealed that he was a fundamental Marxist-Leninist in exactly the same mold as Stalin ...”

  • The Future of the GOP

    1) Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994.  - former Vice President of the United States, presidential candidate

    Taped on Sept 14, 1967 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  Mr. Nixon, attempting to come back after losing the presidential election in 1960 and the California gubernatorial election in 1962, casts his remarks so as to hold onto conservatives who had voted for Goldwater without losing the many Americans who had not voted for Goldwater. The result is mostly bland, but there is considerable historical interest in encountering the pre-presidential Nixon: “Naturally I'm a prejudiced witness... But I believe that as this campaign in 1968 unfolds, that the nation will see that the new Republican Party is one which advocates change, but advocates change in a different way from the irresponsibles. And I mean by that, that in changing those things that are wrong in America, we must not destroy the things that are right. That to me is the essence of true conservatism.”

  • The Wallace Crusade

    1) Wallace, George C. (George Corley), 1919-1998.  - former Democratic Governor of Alabama

    Taped on Jan 24, 1968 (St. Louis, MO)

    Summary:  WFB had sharply criticized Mr. Wallace in print, both for his once-adamant attachment to segregation and for his New Deal statism, and Mr. Wallace came on Firing Line determined not to give an inch. GW: “Name one thing in Alabama that I have supported on the governmental level that you are against.” WFB: “You want the state to take care of hospitalization, you want the state to take care of old people, you want the state to take care of the poor.” GW: “Are you against caring for the poor and the old? ... I might say that no conservative in this country who comes out against looking after destitute elderly people ought to be elected to anything.” WFB: “You call yourself a populist, right?” GW: “If you mean by a populist a man of the people, yes, I’m a populist. Let’s get back to the old-age pension. Let’s see, you’re against Alabama's looking after the elderly destitute citizens of the state?” (The following month, Mr. Wallace would declare his third-party candidacy for President.)

  • Philby and Treason

    1) West, Rebecca, Dame, 1892-  - Dame, historian, novelist, journalist

    Taped on Feb 26, 1968 (Savoy Hotel, London, England)

    Summary:  Dame Rebecca, who had recently published The New Meaning of Treason, was invited on Firing Line to discuss Kim Philby and his spectacular defection to the Soviet Union. For connoisseurs of a certain sort of British intellectual, this show is hard to beat. RW: “... you see, it is historically interesting that he wasn’t really of a very important family. He was of a very charming family. But he wasn’t of a very important family.” WFB: “If he had been important, he wouldn’t have been discovered yet, do you mean?” RW: “No. What I mean is that Philby had all the slight thrill that his father gave people. You see, his father was pro-Arab. And the British Establishment, the British upper class, has always been pro-Arab-I think because the British upper class has always been very fond of horses-” WFB: “No, come on.” RW: “-and it all works together. Yes, that’s quite true.... A great many of the English upper-class people approved of Philby because he was on the right side with those Bedouin chaps.”

  • The Culture of the Left

    1) Muggeridge, Malcolm, 1903-1990.  - journalist, author, gadfly

    Taped on Feb 26, 1968 (Savoy Hotel, London, England)

    Summary:  “He calls himself,” says WFB in his introduction to the first of Mr. Muggeridge's several appearances on Firing Line, “a man of the Left... His apostasies from the Left are, however, so numerous as to leave him a member of the Left in the same sense that, say, Bishop Pike is a member of the Episcopal Church.” But let Mr. Muggeridge speak for himself: “Well, Bill, I think you must distinguish between being a member of the Left and being a liberal. I regard liberalism as the great disease of our society, and when I said that people like Mrs. Roosevelt, admirable though they were in intentions, would be seen to have done more damage than people like Hitler and Stalin, I meant precisely that. Hitler and Stalin got a lot of people killed and precipitated the great war, but they are now discredited. But liberalism, which has been the dominant philosophy in the most influential and powerful nations of the West, continues to thrive despite the fact that every time it's been applied, the consequences have been disastrous.”

  • The Avant Garde

    1) Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-  - poet, hippie

    Taped on May 7, 1968 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  Some installments of Firing Line would not lose much if the video faded out, but this one is an exception: Mr. Ginsberg’s hair (as WFB puts it, “he will wear his hair long until everybody else does; then he will cut it”), his glittering eyes, and the little harmonium with which he accompanies his chant of Ommm are half the story. But, agree with him or not, the words are worth hearing too, as an encapsulation of this time: “One of the problems is, critically speaking, no one can understand the problem of police brutality in America, or the police-state we are going through as I see it, without understanding the language of the police. The language that the police use on hippies or Negroes is such that I can’t pronounce it to the middle-class audience. So the middle-class audience doesn't have the data or some portion of the data to judge the situation between the Negroes and the police.”

  • Armies of the Night

    1) Mailer, Norman.  - novelist, anti-Vietnam War activist

    Taped on May 28, 1968 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  This surprisingly genial conversation starts with the subject of Norman Mailer-as most conversations with Norman Mailer do-and goes on from there. WFB: “Oh, sure, I'm very anxious to discuss [Mr. Mailer's latest book, Armies of the Night]... [which] I think everyone should read, because I think it’s an extremely interesting and enjoyable book, if that's the right word for it.” NM: "Well, I wish someone on the right wing would write a book that would be as good, because it would be a great help to us on the Left. I wanted to help the right wing understand-” WFB: “You wouldn’t notice it if it were written.” NM: “No, I would notice it. You know I'm a lover of literature.” WFB: “Yes.” NM: “I think Evelyn Waugh is a marvelous writer.... Unfortunately, he’s not an American.” WFB: “Yeah. Unfortunately, he's dead.” NM: “That too.”

  • The Hippies

    1) Yablonsky, Lewis.  - Chairman of the Sociology Department at San Fernando State College in California, author of The Hippie Trip
    2) Sanders, Ed.  - poet; musician with the group The Fugs; author of the The Family
    3) Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969.  - icon of the Beat Generation, author of On the Road; now a novelist

    Taped on Sept 3, 1968 (New York City, NY)

    Summary: Hold onto your hat for this free-for-all among four men who aren’t simply coming from different directions-they're in different universes. ES: “The problem with terms like ‘hippie’ is that they have a definition forced on them by the media …. And you know, you can’t rely on the name ‘hippie’ to include a human being, you know, everything about a particular human being. You know? …” LY: “I kinda disagree with that. I spent last year traveling around the country, various communes and various- Haight-Ashbury, Lower East Side, various city scenes, and there was an identifiable … people trying, searching for some loving solutions to society's ills, trying to tune in to the cosmos, whatever that means." … WFB: "To what extent do you believe the Beat Generation is related to the hippies ... ?" JK: "I'm 46 years old, these kids are 18, but it's the same movement, which is apparently some kind of Dionysian movement, in late civilization, which I did not intend, any more than, I suppose, Dionysus did, or whatever, his name was. Although I’m not Dionysus to your Euripides, I should have been."

    See clip here.

  • Muhammad Ali and the Negro Movement

    1) Ali, Muhammad, 1942-  - once and future heavyweight boxing champion

    Taped on Dec 12, 1968 (New York City, NY)

    Summary: When Mr. Clay joined the Black Muslims, his draft board reversed its earlier determination (made in order to keep him out of the Armed Forces so that he could continue to box) that he was not sufficiently intelligent to serve. When he was reclassified, he pleaded conscientious objection, was refused, and was about to begin a term in jail. CC: “I have to be real cool and not savage and radical, because it makes me angry when I think about it - when I see the white boys, who really are the number-one citizens, the future rulers, when I see them, by the hundreds, leaving the country, and I see the white preachers breaking into draft-board houses in Wisconsin and Baltimore, tearing the files out of the walls and making a bonfire out of 45,000 draft cards, pouring blood on them, and I see them go to court and the juries say two years, and I get five years for what’s legal?”

  • Reflections on the Current Scene

    1) Luce, Clare Boothe, 1903-1987.  - journalist, playwright, former Republican Congressman from Connecticut, former U.S. Ambassador to Italy

    Taped on Dec 6, 1969 (Honolulu, HI)

    Summary: A high-energy conversation ranging from conservatives’ views on environmental pollution, to population control in the Philippines, to Middle Americans’ embrace of Spiro Agnew, to the Church’s understanding that even saints are also sinners. An ominous moment, in the light of developments just a few years away, is Mrs. Luce’s working out of her theory of what constitutes greatness in Presidents: “I think there‘s no evidence whatsoever as of now that President Nixon is or will become a great President. But you know I take a rather simplistic view of what a great man is. I think a great man is always the author of a unique and significant action. So far there is no unique action of which Mr. Nixon is the author.”

  • Abortion Laws: Pro and Con

    1) Noonan, John Thomas, 1926-  - Professor of Law at the University of California at Berkeley
    2) Lucas, Roy.  - Executive Director of the California Population Law Center

    Taped on Jul 25, 1972 (Los Angeles, CA)

    Summary:  The most visible abortion battleground was New York State, where the legislature had voted to repeal the extremely permissive law it had passed two years before, and Governor Rockefeller had vetoed the repeal. But the case challenging that veto would probably never make it to the Supreme Court, Mr. Lucas explains, for there were others ahead of it in line; in retrospect, we know that one of those, Roe v. Wade, was decided in January of 1973. This show covers familiar ground, but often from angles that are still fresh thirty years later. RL: “Would you favor legislation requiring a woman to submit to strong medical treatment to stop spontaneous abortion and penalizing her accordingly if she didn't? ...” JTN: “No, I think you're again committing what I would say was a fault in moral reasoning. Because you're bound to avoid doing some injury to a person does not mean that you're bound to do everything possible in the world to help him.”

  • Sex Education

    1) Fort, Joel, 1929-  - MD, Lecturer in Psychiatry at the University of California at Berkeley, author of The New Sexuality and The Pleasure Seekers
    2) Calderone, Mary Steichen, 1904-  - MD, public-health specialist, President of the Sex Information and Education Council
    3) Van den Haag, Ernest.  - psychoanalyst, Adjunct Professor of Social Philosophy at New York University

    Taped on Oct 3, 1972 (New York City, NY)
    Broadcast Date:  Oct 15, 1972

    Summary:  Dr. Calderone was widely regarded as the principal pioneer of sex education in the schools, although she insists that her interest is in sex education for “everybody; all of us.” The two sides in this debate can agree that, as Professor van den Haag puts it, “even if you present five different value systems and present them, so to speak, neutrally, the major effect on the student would be, ‘It doesn't matter,’ which is another value system.” But as to the place of sex education in the schools, never the twain shall meet. EvdH: “I agree with Dr. Fort that there is a great deal of learning, if not formal education, about sex going on from all kinds of sources. Under the circumstances, why is it necessary also to teach it in schools?” MC: “As a corrective.” JF: “Because most of that is not good information.” EvdH: “Well, why do you assume that teachers have good information to give?” JF: “I don’t assume that either.” MC: “I don't assume the parents have good information either.”

  • Hate America

    1) Rader, Dotson.  - veteran of the Columbia riots in 1968, author of I Ain't Marchin’ Anymore!
    2) Beichman, Arnold.  - journalist, trade union man; currently Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, author of Nine Lies about America

    Taped on Oct 3, 1972 (New York City, NY)
    Broadcast Date:  Oct 22, 1972

    Summary:  “We are discreetly removed from the madness of yesterday on the campuses,” WFB begins, “though an apostolate survives and is perhaps regrouping to strike again. At what? ‘At America’ is the easiest way to put it.” Mr. Rader is emphatically of that disposition; Mr. Beichman emphatically is not. The conversation sometimes spins into outer space but never slows down. AB: “ ‘All power to the people’ is your signature line. What people were you talking about?” DR: “It’s basically a populist position.” AB: “What people-not the hardhats, obviously. You wouldn't want them to have power.” DR: “No, I think the basic thrust of the New Left... We always make a mistake because we assume the New Left is Marxist, which it's not.” AB: :Is it Leninist?” DR: “... No, I think in spirit it is basically 18th century. That's how it began-18th-century constitutionalism.... This, coupled with disillusionment with American institutions, coming largely out of the response of those institutions to what were rather good-natured, traditional protests of grievances, the war-” AB: “Wait a minute. ‘Good-natured’-you lost me there.” DR: “I think they were good-natured.”

  • The Young

    1) Burgess, Anthony, 1917-  - novelist, teacher, currently a visiting professor at the City College of New York

    Taped on Dec 21, 1972 (New York City, NY)Broadcast Date:  Dec 31, 1972

    Summary:  A splendid conversation with the author of A Clockwork Orange, who had just infuriated what Mr. Buckley calls “the militant student community” by publishing an open letter urging them to “think harder and learn who Helen of Troy and Nausicaa were and, for God's sake, stop talking about relevance.” One sample from Mr. Burgess: “What have I, a person of a very ancient generation, a person who’s already 55, to say to young men and women in their late teens and twenties? I think I have something to say, but this is contested, and not only by the young. It’s contested also by people who should know better-the professors, the lecturers who put themselves beside the young deliberately, hoping thereby when the revolution comes, if it does come, that they’ll get some sort of special preference, discounting the fact that they’ll probably be the first to be put up against the wall and have to face the firing squad.”

  • A Conservative Look at Marijuana

    1) Bryant, Thomas E.  - MD, President of the Drug Abuse Council
    2) Greenway, John.  - Professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, author most recently of Down among the Wild Men

    Taped on Dec 21, 1972 (New York City, NY)Broadcast Date:  Jan 7, 1973

    Summary:  “Once again,” WFB begins, “marijuana is in the news.” California voters had just rejected a ballot initiative to ease the marijuana laws; but many organizations had come to favor changes ranging from outright legalization to decriminalization of possession. Are changes in public attitudes prompted by new research? Not really, according to Dr. Bryant: “We have a number of ongoing research projects, trying to get at the physiological, biochemical, psychological changes,” but “I’m not sure that there have been any major breakthroughs.” Nonetheless, he has come to favor decriminalization. Mr. Greenway, whose specialty is being a curmudgeon, spends several minutes fencing (“I don’t care for sincerity, either”), but then settles down to recounting experiences both as a professor and as a member of the Boulder Police Department: “What makes marijuana, to me, particularly dangerous is that it’s represented as not being dangerous.”

  • Texas Politics

    1) Dugger, Ronnie.  - Editor of the Texas Observer
    2) Farenthold, Frances.  - unsuccessful candidate for governor in 1972; leader of Texas
    3) Milburn, Beryl.  - Past President of the Texas Federation of Republican Women, Director of the women

    Taped on Jan 23, 1973 (San Antonio, TX)
    Broadcast Date:  Feb 25, 1973

    Summary:  “More attention,” WFB begins, “is given to the politics of Texas than to those of practically any other state of the Union. There is, of course, the matter of the hugeness of Texas; but there is also the tradition of Texas-rich, powerful, self-assured, demanding, cocky, impenitent.” Mrs. Farenthold is a Democrat who has fought the Democratic establishment on the grounds of its corruption (“We don't have clean-cut bribery any more. It’s all with stock manipulation or sale of ranch lands at inflated prices or disposition of oil leases”)-although she is evidently shocked when Mr. Buckley asks whether “the Federal Government ought to intervene in Texan affairs in order to set things right.” To Mrs. Milburn, the problem is that Texas has “a one-party monopoly and it breeds corruption ... You may change some of the players but the plays remain the same.” Mr. Dugger admits that “I would prefer an honest Republican to a dishonest Democrat”-but instantly carries the fight back into the enemy’s camp over the way Texas primaries are run. A hard-fought, entertaining hour in this larger-than-life state.

  • The Equal Rights Amendment

    1) Schlafly, Phyllis.  - National Chairman of STOP ERA
    2) Scott, Ann.  - Vice President for Legislation for the National Organization for Women

    Taped on:  Mar 30, 1973 (Washington, DC)
    Broadcast Date:  Apr 15, 1973

    Summary:  The Equal Rights Amendment was on its way to ratification, when a funny thing happened: one of the states (to be followed by others) that had ratified it rescinded its ratification. The rescission had been mobilized, as WFB puts it, not “by sexist males but by women, many of whom on second blush are discovering in the amendment implications they regard as inimical to the best interests of American women.” Like what? Like, replies Mrs. Schlafly, the draft. Wait a minute, says Ms. Scott: “if women are to be citizens and citizens are to be subject to the draft, then women should take the responsibilities as well as the rights of citizenship.” Swords flash as we move from the draft to employment opportunities to child support. Whether or not our two guests will ever agree on anything, we do learn where the battle lines are drawn.

  • The Implications of Watergate

    1) Powell, James O.  - Editorial-Page Editor of the Arkansas Gazette
    2) Murphy, Reg, 1934-  - Editor of the Atlanta Constitution
    3) Clark, Robert P.  - Executive Editor of the Louisville Times and the Courier-Journal

    Taped on May 16, 1973 (Louisville, KY)
    Broadcast Date:  Jun 3, 1973

    Summary:  The semi-annual occasion on which the guests put their host on the firing line-in this case, mostly on the subject of Watergate, which had been simmering since just a few days after the break-in the previous June but had only become the daily staple of our front pages when Gordon Liddy, Howard Hunt, and five others were put on trial in January. WFB and his guests mostly remand the details of what happened at the Watergate and who ordered it to a time when more evidence is in; instead, the crackling discussion ranges from the possibility of changing the presidential tenure to a single, six-year term, to how Congresses have historically dealt with a President who has been repudiated but is still in office (e.g., Herbert Hoover in 1931), to the continuing war in Vietnam. WFB: “If you live in a society in which lawlessness becomes intellectually fashionable, as it was in this country during the last ten years, you beget, I think, a counter-countercultural lawlessness of which Watergate is an example.”

  • Has America Had It?

    1) Muggeridge, Malcolm, 1903-1990.  - journalist, author, gadfly

    Taped on Aug 20, 1973 (London, England)
    Broadcast Date:  Sept 16, 1973

    Summary:  Mr. Muggeridge is disinclined to be apocalyptic about America’s future, although he has to concede that the current situation - with Watergate roiling away and the bitterness over Vietnam by no means assuaged - gives America-bashers grounds for Schadenfreude. WFB: “It is widely assumed that there was a terrible collapse of English statecraft before the First World War and before the Second World War. Was there the equivalent gloating in America that you know of?” MM: “I wouldn’t have said in America so much, but certainly on the Continent, and in my lifetime I’ve seen this attitude. When I was young, the Empire was at its maximum strength and I felt this incredible hatred that everybody had for the British. I think the only difference ... is that the British rather liked that-it rather pleased them to be regarded as absolutely unspeakable wherever they went-whereas the Americans have no taste for it.”

  • Jews and American Politics

    1) Isaacs, Stephen D., 1937-  - national correspondent for the Washington Post, author of Jews and American Politics
    2) Cuddihy, John Murray.  - Assistant Professor of Sociology at Hunter College, author of The Ordeal of Civility: Freud, Marx, Levi-Strauss, and the Jewish Struggle with Modernity

    Taped on Dec 2, 1974 (Washington, DC)
    Broadcast Date:  Dec 8, 1974

    Summary:  General George Brown, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had set off an avalanche of criticism by referring publicly-in the context of emergency aid to Israel following the Yom Kippur War-to the extraordinary influence of Jews on our foreign policy. He had been quickly defended, not in every particular but on the main point, by the Jewish journalist Stephen Isaacs. This lively discussion, full of detail, ranges from the Holocaust, to voting patterns of Jewish intellectuals, to the emotional effect of the 1967 Mideast War: SI: “Well, the Jew, up until that time, was this impression of a desk-bound, cowering sort of individual, who was led off, unprotesting, to a cattle car to be taken to his death. Well, '67 changed all that. Suddenly the Jew became a very strong person...When I was a kid growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, and I was a 230-pound tackle, the people there who had never met a Jew couldn't believe I was really a Jew...It just didn't fit with the image.”

  • Who Killed Bobby Kennedy?

    1) Lowenstein, Allard K.  - former law professor, former Chairman of Americans for Democratic Action, former Congressman from New York

    Taped on Apr 11, 1975 (Columbia, SC)
    Broadcast Date:  Apr 20, 1975

    Summary:  The Warren Commission report was still being hotly debated, and Jesse Jackson had just announced that it was the FBI and the CIA that had killed Martin Luther King Jr. Mr. Lowenstein, in his fourth appearance on Firing Line, passes along his wife’s worry that instead of being known as “former congressman” he will become known as “current kook,” but he has come to believe that Sirhan Sirhan may not have fired the bullet that killed Bobby Kennedy. The problem arises, as Mr. Lowenstein explains, because “the trial... didn't deal with these [ballistics] issues because Sirhan’s attorney announced that he had murdered Kennedy and that the issue was his sanity.... So none of this evidence was entered in the trial at all.” Why does it matter? As Mr. Buckley works through it, “It strikes me as unlikely, given the fact that everybody agrees, including yourself, that Sirhan Sirhan was trying to kill Kennedy, that merely identifying somebody else who was also trying to kill him is going to excite the sort of inquisitive appetites of our people. But if that other person is himself just the tip of an iceberg .…”

  • Deep Throat and the First Amendment

    1) Reems, Harry.  - pornographic movie actor
    2) Dershowitz, Alan M.  - Professor of Law at Harvard University, lawyer leading Mr. Reems's defense

    Taped on Dec 13, 1976 (New York City, NY)

    Summary:  Harry Reems, one of the participants in Deep Throat, had been arrested on charges of commerce in obscenity; Mr. Dershowitz, rising to the First Amendment challenge, was leading his defense. (When Firing Line invited Mr. Dershowitz to discuss the case, he insisted on bringing Mr. Reems with him; Mr. Buckley intended to pretend Mr. Reems was not there, though good manners eventually got the better of him.) To Mr. Buckley’s questions about the effect of pornography on society (does it foster illegitimacy, rape, abortion?), our guests, the one rather more eloquently than the other, offer a slab of First Amendment absolutism. AD: “I think that there have been major changes in the last ten years, brought about by a complex of factors.... For example, Playboy magazine has probably had more of an influence on the sexual revolution than any hard-core porno films.... You would have to ban Playboy magazine. You would probably have to ban Cosmopolitan magazine .… The point is, if you want to achieve the result, then you have to have much more censorship. If you want to have free speech, then you have to include Deep Throat.…” WFB: “I think you are right. You have to sort of revitalize a whole central view of man, which is not easily done by the suppression of anything. But the suppression of certain things is an aspect of one's concern. Just as we suppressed the circulation of racist literature in Germany after the war.”


  • The Guilt of Alger Hiss

    1) Weinstein, Allen.  - Professor of History at Smith College, author of Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case
    2) Theoharis, Athan G.  - Professor of History at Marquette University

    Taped on Mar 21, 1978 (Washington, DC)
    Broadcast Date Apr 7, 1978

    Summary:  An absorbing exploration of the Hiss-Chambers case with two scholars, one of whom, before he started work on his monumental book, thought that Alger Hiss had been framed and that Whittaker Chambers had perjured himself; the other of whom still believes Hiss innocent. WFB: “I should like to begin by asking Mr. Weinstein is there a survivor who was involved with both Hiss and Chambers who, having remained silent, might now under the prodding of your book speak out with the truth?” AW: “I think there are several who could, Mr. Buckley. I would be very surprised if any did.... Although it should be said that it surprised me when some of the people who spoke to me for the book did. For example, in his own memoir, Witness, Whittaker Chambers calls upon a man he mentions only by the name Paul and ... says he’s hoping this man will come defend him... - an old, old, friend. Well, Paul did not at the time. He was a Communist. Paul later broke with the Party and was- I prefer not to mention his name now; he enjoys a certain measure of privacy now. But he confirmed every aspect of Chambers’s story insofar as it concerned him.”

    Note:  transcript available here.

  • Resolved: That the Price of Oil and Natural Gas Should Be Regulated by the Federal Government

    1) Galbraith, John Kenneth, 1908-2006.  - For the Affirmative. Professor Emeritus of Economics at Harvard University, sometime Chairman of Americans for Democratic Action
    2) Buckley, William F. (William Frank), 1925-2008.  - For the Negative.

    Taped on Mar 30, 1978 (Los Angeles, CA)
    Broadcast Date Apr 14, 1978

    Summary:  This show might be called a mini-debate: it follows the formal procedures-opening statements, cross-examination, rebuttals - but with a single combatant on either side. The two old adversaries go at it, as always, with good-humored ferocity. Mr. Galbraith begins by contending that a free market in oil and gas has not existed for some time: “The market has been extensively superseded by planning, and this planning ... has been planning not by the Federal Government, not by other units of government, but essentially by the large and powerful enterprises which bring these products to us.” Mr. Buckley counters: “It is of course his thesis, now as always, that the market has been superseded-superseded by natural events rather than by synthetic events. He refers to his kinship with reality and reason by contrast with my own with romance and nostalgia. I do remember nostalgically when an agent of the Federal Government reported in 1885 that under no circumstances would any oil ever be discovered in California.”

 

  • Lifting the Trade Ban on Rhodesia

    1) Lowenstein, Allard K.  - lawyer, activist, sometime U.S. representative to the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva
    2) Solarz, Stephen J.  - Democratic Congressman from New York

    Taped on Jun 15, 1979 (New York City, NY)
    Broadcast Date Jun 24, 1979

    Summary: In 1966, following Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence, the United Nations had imposed trade sanctions in an attempt to bring down Ian Smith's all-white government. There had now been elections-of which Mr. Lowenstein had been an observer, and Mr. Solarz had declined to be an observer-in which blacks were allowed full participation (cf. the Firing Line with Bishop Muzorewa, #S331), but President Carter had announced that the sanctions would continue against the country that its white rulers still called Rhodesia but the black majority called Zimbabwe. Although both guests want, as Mr. Lowenstein puts it, "a democratic government which would not be racist in its composition and which would be achieved with the least bloodshed possible," they disagree, often heatedly, on the best means to that end. (in the event, "Zimbabwe Rhodesia" reverted to transitional British rule at the end of the year and the UN Security Council lifted the sanctions.)

  • Muggeridge Revisited

    1) Muggeridge, Malcolm, 1903-1990.  - journalist, gadfly

    Taped on Jun 27, 1978 (London, England)
    Broadcast Date Aug 4, 1978

    Summary:  The last time Mr. Muggeridge was on Firing Line, Mr. Buckley reminds us, it was to comment on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s first television interview; a few weeks before today’s show was taped, Solzhenitsyn had again made waves, this time with his Harvard commencement address. Solzhenitsyn, with those great burning eyes, speaks like a prophet. Muggeridge, with his twinkling eyes, speaks like a benevolent grandfather - but the two men wind up saying much the same thing, whether speaking of the City of God or the City of Man. MM: “Every courageous man in the West who believes in freedom and equality will have a go at them [the South Africans], because that’s very easy. But-” WFB: “Or Chile.” MM: “Chile, not quite so easily, because there aren't many black people there, and it’s not within the orbit much of the West; but South Africa is the absolutely favorite thing. In order not to have to do or say anything about the Gulag, it’s perfect.... I’ve been reading Spengler in these dark days. Do you ever read it?” WFB: “I’ve managed to avoid it.” MM: “You won't avoid it for long.”

    Note:  transcript available here.

  • Three vs. William F. Buckley Jr.

    1) Pilpel, Harriet F.  - feminist, civil-libertarian; lawyer, Senior Partner at Greenbaum, Wolff & Ernst
    2) Burden, Carter.  - Democratic congressional candidate in New York; former New York City Councilman, former owner of The Village Voice
    3) Lowenstein, Allard K.  - Democratic congressional candidate in New York; former U.S. Commissioner on Human Rights

    Taped on Jul 21, 1978 (New York City, NY)
    Broadcast Date Jul 27, 1978

    Summary:  In this installment of the semi-annual turning of the tables, the guests question their host on everything from government spending, to the Equal Rights Amendment and abortion, to aid to authoritarian regimes. Two samples: HP: “I think what we can agree on in disputes of this kind is that the role of the government, in a culturally diverse, pluralistic society, is to be neutral.” WFB: “My God! You want to pass a law [ERA] forbidding me to hire a female nurse for my mother, and you’re telling me the law has to be neutral in matters of such gravity as abortion!” ... CB: “But if life is sacred, if that is a basic moral premise, then how can you in any case justify taking life [via the death penalty]?” WFB: “By reading the Bible.” CB: “An eye for an eye? You subscribe to that?” WFB: “No, I don’t subscribe to that. But there are many instances in the Bible where, given due process, and given the gravity of the crime, the taking of life is authorized.”

  • The Rising Tide of Islam

    1) Vatikiotis, P. J.  - Professor of Middle East Studies at the University of London, author of Nasser and His Generation
    2) Warburg, Gabriel.  - Professor of Middle East Studies at the University of Haifa, author of Islam, Nationalism, and Communism in a Traditional Society
    3) Ben-Dor, Gabriel.  - Professor of Political Science at Haifa University

    Taped on Mar 16, 1979 (Tel Aviv, Israel)
    Broadcast Date Apr 15, 1979

    Summary:  Mr. Buckley begins by saying, “The general ignorance in the Western world concerning Islam ... is widely deplored and generally cultivated.” This is demonstrated over and over again in this productive discussion, in which our guests-none of them Muslim, all of them deeply knowledgeable about Islam-lead us into this very different worldview. One sample: WFB: “The fundamentalist-” PJV: “Excuse me, I refuse to use the term fundamentalist for Islam. That is a very Christian, canonical, theological proposition. There's no such thing as fundamentalism in Islam. There is orthodox in Islam.” WFB: “There is such a thing as a metaphor everywhere.” PJV: “All right. Thank you. The problem is that this is the only native idiom they have.” WFB: “Cutting off hands is fundamentalist, isn’t it?” PJV: “Well, even the cutting off of hands-” GB: “You could call it puritan.” PJV: “Puritan, yes.” WFB: “Puritanical.”

  • Resolved: That the United States Should Refuse Recognition to the PLO (Part I, Part II, Both Parts)

    Moderator:  Roche, George Charles, President of Hillsdale College

    1) Buckley, William F. (William Frank), 1925-2008.  - For the Affirmative
    2) Solarz, Stephen J.  - For the Affirmative. Democratic Congressman from New York
    3) Weinstein, Allen.  - For the Affirmative. Historian, author of Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case
    4) Jackson, Jesse, 1941-  - For the Negative. The Rev.; founder and Executive Director of Operation PUSH (People United to Serve Humanity)
    5) Findley, Paul.  - For the Negative. Republican Congressman from Illinois
    6) Jabara, Abdeen.  - For the Negative. Co-chairman of the Palestinian Human Rights Campaign
    7) Cooley, John.  - Panelist. Defense correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor
    8) Johnson, Thomas.  - Panelist. Minority-affairs reporter for the New York Times
    9) Kirk, Russell.  - Panelist. Conservative critic, columnist
    10) Ledeen, Michael.  - Panelist. Executive Editor of the Washington Quarterly

    Taped on Nov 28, 1979 (Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, MI)

    Summary:  Light as well as heat on a topic of passionate interest to many Americans. WFB: “U.S. Air Force intelligence, in testimony before Congress, links terrorists from 14 countries with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Representatives of these organizations specialize in achieving their velleities by blowing people up, or kidnapping them, torturing them, shooting them in the knee –t hat sort of thing.... But what some people call terrorists other people call soldiers or freedom fighters. Isn’t that correct? It certainly is, even as it is correct that East Germany calls itself the Democratic Republic of Germany.” ... JJ: “The Apostle Paul emerged as a terrorist killing Christians, but God kept a ‘let’s talk’ policy, confronted him on the Damascus Road, and changed his mind, his heart, and his life.” ... AJ: “The Palestinians who were displaced and dispossessed in 1948,... Israel was called upon to allow their return to their homes and lands. Have they been allowed to return?” AW: “In a period, sir-” AJ: “Answer the question, yes or no?” AW: “No, you’re not a trial lawyer here, sir, you’re a debater. I will answer the question in whatever fashion I choose.”

  • The Year That Was

    1) Greenfield, Jeff.  - critic, author, frequent Firing Line examiner
    2) Pilpel, Harriet F.  - lawyer, feminist activist, frequent Firing Line examiner
    3) Lowenstein, Allard K.  - lawyer, liberal activist, sometime public servant, frequent Firing Line guest

    Taped on Dec 13, 1979 (New York City, NY)
    Broadcast Date:  Dec 30, 1979

    Summary:  This discussion with three extremely articulate liberals ranges from the crisis in Iran (it was just a month earlier that radical students had seized our embassy in Teheran, demanding that the United States hand the Shah over to them) to the foreign-policy obtuseness of Ted Kennedy to selective indignation about foreign dictators. JG: “There has been a kind of laziness ... on the part of liberals that what one assails when it comes to human rights is Chile, which certainly deserves it in my judgment, or Paraguay, which deserves it-” WFB: “Don't forget Argentina.” JG: “Argentina. Yes, these are wretched governments. But the Soviet Union, with 250-plus million people, is a government that is unbelievable.” AL: “Well, what is ‘the Left’? I’m not sure what that means. I think that there's a laziness on the part of some people, left or right, whatever those labels mean, in selective denunciations.” JG: "” was coming to that. I find the same laziness in the Reagans and Connallys of this world, that one must endorse the Somozas of this world as a way of preserving American allies.”

  • Presidential Hopeful: Ronald Reagan

    1) Reagan, Ronald.  - former Republican Governor of California

    Taped on Jan 14, 1980 (Los Angeles, CA)
    Broadcast Date Jan 20, 1980

    Summary:  The wish was father to the thought: instead of asking Mr. Reagan conventionally worded questions about his candidacy, as he had done Messrs. Dole and Anderson and Crane, WFB addressed his guest (without advance warning) as if the inauguration had already taken place: “I should like to begin by asking President Reagan: What would you do if, say, one afternoon you were advised that a race riot had broken out in Detroit?” RR: “Well, I would be inclined to say that that was a problem for the local authorities in Detroit, unless those local authorities were unable to control the situation....” A discussion full of substance-on topics ranging from Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, to the way government bonds should be issued, to the still-ongoing energy crisis, to the still-high unemployment - but also a delicious dress rehearsal: WFB: “Mr. President, the CIA has complained to you that it cannot discharge some of the recent directives that the National Security Council has given it as a result of its having been hamstrung by a number of provisions insisted on by Senator Church three or four years ago. How would you handle that dilemma?” RR: “Why, I’m surprised that they're complaining, because one of the first things I did when I took office was ask Congress to repeal those restrictions that were put on by Senator Church.”

  • Allard Lowenstein on Firing Line: A Retrospective

    1) Lowenstein, Allard K.  - lawyer, liberal activist, sometime public servant, frequent Firing Line guest

    Taped on April 22, 1980

    A memorial to, as Buckley describes him, "in our time, the original activist," shot dead at age fifty-one by a former associate. The program - the first such retrospective on Firing Line (others would be done for Clare Boothe Luce, Michael Harrington, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Barry Goldwater) - is composed of excerpts from Lowenstein's nine Firing Line appearances, framed by the eulogies given at his memorial service by Buckley and Senator Edward Kennedy. Kennedy: “He was a person of impassioned political conviction, but personally he loved so many who so often disagreed with his politics. Who but Al Lowenstein could claim among his best friends both Bill Buckley and Robert Kennedy?” Buckley: “Of all the partisans I have known, from the furthest steppes of the spectrum, his was the most undistracted concern, not for humanity - though he was conversant with big-think idiom - but for human beings.”
  • How Does One Find Faith?

    1) Muggeridge, Malcolm, 1903-1990.  - journalist, author

    Taped on Sept 6, 1980 (Mr. Muggeridge)
    Broadcast Date Oct 5, 1980

    Summary:  The edited 30-minute version, with an added introduction by William F. Buckley, that was rebroadcast annually at Christmas for the rest of the life of Firing Line. A radiant session with the former left-wing atheist, become one of the century's leading Christian apologists. Mr. Muggeridge on how he was drawn to faith: “Now why did this longing for faith assail me? Insofar as I can point to anything, it is to do with this profession which both you and I followed of observing what’s going on in the world and attempting to report and comment thereon, because that particular occupation gives one a very heightened sense of the sheer fantasy of human affairs - the sheer fantasy of power and of the structures that men construct out of power - and therefore gives one an intense, overwhelming longing to be in contact with reality. And so you look for reality, and you try this and try that, and ultimately you arrive at the conclusion - great oversimplification-that reality is a mystery. The heart of reality is a mystery.” WFB: “Even if that were so, why should that mystery lead you to Christian belief?” MM: “Because it leads you to God.”

  • Do We Need Religion or Religious Institutions?

    1) Muggeridge, Malcolm, 1903-1990.  - journalist, author

    Taped on Sept 6, 1980 (Mr. Muggeridge)
    Broadcast Date Oct 12, 1980

    Summary:  This show suffers from comparison with the one above, but by any other standard it is a wonderful exploration of modern man and his discontents-starting with the fact that Mr. Muggeridge, although a leading Christian apologist, was unchurched. MM: "I've, believe it or not, longed to be a Catholic.... I've longed for it as though it were the most marvelous thing ... The truth is, I think, that I take a very pessimistic view of the Catholic Church, despite the very brilliant Pope you've now got. It seems to me that it's dropping to pieces; and of course it had a severe blow after the Vatican Council. Therefore, I would be joining something of which I was enormously critical, and this isn't really an honorable thing to do." WFB: "That's never bothered you before." MM: "I've never contemplated anything so serious as joining a church. I mean, even if you were to turn to mundane things-joining a club-if you were to join it quite confident that you were going to challenge all its rules and have rows with all its members, it would be rather a foolish step to take...." WFB: "Well, I'm, to put it lightly, stupefied that you would make a decision whether or not to extend your loyalty to an institution based on the behavior of some of its communicants. I can't imagine any time in history when anybody would have become a Catholic if he had been so easily put off." (Malcolm Muggeridge and his wife, Kitty, eventually submitted to Rome, in 1984.)

  • Is Modern Architecture Disastrous?

    1) Wolfe, Tom.  - author most recently of From Bauhaus to Our House

    Taped on Oct 1, 1981 (New York City, NY)

    Broadcast Date Oct 18, 1981

    Summary: A rip-roaring attack on the shibboleths of modern architecture-and with a Firing Line rarity, visual aids (illustrations from Mr. Wolfe's book). TW: “The irony of this is all these forms were created for the workers in the ruins and rubble of Germany after the First World War under a Socialist government, and somehow, as if they had bounced off Telstar, landed on Sixth Avenue, Park Avenue-practically any avenue you want to name in any large American city.... Far from housing workers these structures ... are housing the corporate giants of America.... And they are all in worker-housing forms.”

  • Was Gandhi for Real?

    1) Grenier, Richard.  - foreign correspondent, script writer, critic
    2) Rudolph, Lloyd Irving.  - political scientist, co-author of Gandhi: The Traditional Roots of Charisma

    Taped on Jun 9, 1983 (New York City, NY)
    Broadcast Date:  Aug 19, 1983

    Summary: The movie Gandhi had met with wildly differing reactions - stemming largely from the reactors’ views of Gandhi himself. Was he primarily a religious and ethical figure, or was he a political figure in karma yogi’s clothing? Mr. Rudolph takes the more positive view of the Mahatma, though Mr. Grenier also acknowledges that “for the Hindus he is a holy man.” RG: “The iron law of Satyagraha, which I think we will try to translate as non-violence - civil disobedience - is the following: Its success is strictly proportional to the high moral level of the opponent.... It has to operate in a free society. It had its greatest triumph, far greater than in India, in the United States of America under the leadership of Martin Luther King.”

  • Are Liberal Vulnerabilities Now Apparent?

    1) Limbaugh, Rush H.  - talk-show host extraordinaire

    Taped on Sept 16, 1992 (WFB's apartment, New York City)
    Broadcast Date:  Oct 4, 1992

    Summary:  Mr. Limbaugh’s career was skyrocketing; the radio show had led to the launching of a television show, and his latest book was a runaway best seller. This show affords a fascinating look at two utterly different personalities that have placed themselves in service to, mostly, the same goals. One sample: WFB: “Style means a lot to me. I’m waiting for the day when people would be laughed out of the campus who use the word ‘freshperson.’ It’s an idiotic attempt at hermaphroditic excess.” RL: “It is, but if you oppose it, you’re the one laughed at.” WFB: “You oppose it.” RL: “Oh, I do. But I’m brave, I’m courageous.”

1 comment:

erano said...

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