The Week: Opinion: Sam Fragoso: How The Riveting Vidal v. Buckley Debates Paved The Way For an Era of Idiotic TV Punditry
I think people need to be careful when they compare with Bill Buckley-Gore Vidal debates with modern partisan talk TV. Where the host of some so-called news talk show has a clear political slant and simply brings on guests to back up what they are already saying. And when they do bring on an alternative point of view, they cut the person off every time the guest contradicts the host. Buckley-Vidal, is not Bill O’Reilly, or Rachel Maddow. Buckley-Vidal, is also not the old CNN Crossfire either. Where you would have 2-4 all talking at the same time and not knowing what someone else on that show said during the whole. Because they were too busy spilling hot air out of the big fat mouth.
The Buckley-Vidal debates, were between two men who hated each other and yet respected each other enough to hear what the other said and actually think about what they said. Before they tried responding to them. These debates were sort of like The Kennedy-Nixon debates of 1960. Where the two leading presidential nominees, were at the top of their game. And knew exactly what they thought and wanted to do and what their opponents knew as well. And actually listened to each other.
The only placed that would put on a Buckley-Vidal debate, or that type of talk and debating show, would be PBS, or C-SPAN. Because the rest of the country when they get home from work, are only interested in mindless entertainment, like so-called realty TV and the other tabloid shows, for the most part. And if they’re going to watch something that presents itself as news, it has to be entertaining. Because if it isn’t, they fall asleep on the couch from watching it, because getting something out of a real news show, or news magazine, or documentary, requires actual thinking. And not thinking about which jail their current favorite celebrity is currently being held at.
The Buckley-Vidal debates, weren’t supposed to be that. They were brought on by ABC News, Bill Buckley and Gore Vidal to offer opposite points of view from the other about the 1968 Republican and Democratic national conventions. I guess ABC News, was small, or cheap, that they couldn’t afford a research staff. Because if they did their homework they would’ve known that Buckley and Vidal hated each other. ABC News’s lead news anchor, was supposed to moderate their discussion, but he acted more like a U.S. Senate presiding officer, (sorry for the Congressional joke) than a moderator. Because Buckley and Vidal did all the talking. But it made for every entertaining as well as intelligent TV.