The Great TV Debates That Forever Changed How Politics Was Covered
When ABC Brought William F. Buckley, Jr., and Gore Vidal Together, the Media Became More Interested in Heat Than Light
In our defense, we were a bit desperate. It was 1968 and ABC News was starved for resources and significantly smaller than its rivals NBC and CBS. We had to do something, anything, to get noticed. I should know: I was ABC News’ director of public relations.
As the presidential nominating conventions loomed that year (Miami Beach for Republicans, Chicago for Democrats) ABC News executives came up with the novel idea of a nightly 90-minute highlight show instead of providing the standard—and endless—gavel-to-gavel coverage. To make this new show even more …