FROM Morgan Neville
'Best of Enemies' and the Rise of Punditry Political coverage on broadcast and network TV wouldn’t be what it is without liberals and conservatives pitted against each other — with the competition often getting in the way of the substance. We hear how it all began. The year 1968 was critical in American politics. Lyndon Johnson had declined to run for re-election, and Richard Nixon was striving to make a comeback. As the party conventions opened, NBC and CBS were dominating ABC in broadcast ratings. So ABC came up with a gimmick. Two intellectuals with utterly different political views were brought together during convention coverage. Best of Enemies is the title of a new documentary about Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley. The producer and director is Academy Award winner Morgan Neville.
Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley, Jr. Spar in 'Best of Enemies' By the mid-1960s, the presidential conventions had turned into full-fledged TV events, but ABC was dead last in the ratings. In order to spice up their convention coverage, ABC executives invited two towering intellectuals to a series of debates. The fireworks between liberal Gore Vidal and conservative William F. Buckley, Jr. created giant ratings for ABC, and ushered in the age of bellicose cable news commentary.
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