Tags: Stanford | William Buckley | Firing Line

Stanford to Host William Buckley's 'Firing Line'

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William F. Buckley (AP)

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Friday, 19 Aug 2016 03:03 PM Current | Bio | Archive

A half-century after it premiered on television and 17 years after its final broadcast, William F. Buckley's storied “Firing Line” series has found a new home — and a new generation of fans.

On Thursday, the Washington, D.C. office of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution hosted a reception in its continuing summer series to unveil the 1,505 “Firing Lines” that were broadcast over 33 years. The archives of "Firing Line" will now be housed at the Hoover Institution and are available to the public.

From 1966-99, in programs varying from one-hour to a half-hour (and sometimes special two-hour debates), Buckley deployed his signature clipboard and pen and eye-popping gestures to interview a generation of American politicians, musicians, authors, and other celebrities.

Guests ranged from four presidents-to-be (Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush), past and future British prime ministers (Harold MacMillan and Margaret Thatcher) to the revered (Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama) to the off-beat (drug advocate Timothy Leary, “Playboy” publisher Hugh Hefner, and “beat generation” novelist Jack Kerouac, who was drunk while interviewed).

Boxing great Muhammad Ali even dropped by for a session with Buckley as the courts considered his defiance of the draft to serve in the U.S. military.

“And what we are finding is that students who have no memory of ‘Firing Line’ when it was on the air are taking a very strong interest in the programs and in Mr. Buckley himself,” Laura Odata, senior manager of external relations for Hoover D.C., told me.

She added that this group consisted of young people of all political persuasions.

Among those in the hot seat were liberal entertainers Steve Allen and Groucho Marx, authors Norman Mailer and Christopher Hitchens, and anti-Vietnam War pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock.

Primarily known in the mid-1960s as the editor of the conservative “National Review” and author of books such as “God and Man at Yale” (criticizing his alma mater) and “McCarthy and His Enemies” (defending Sen. Joe McCarthy), Buckley caught the eye of television producers with his run for mayor of New York in 1965 on the Conservative Party ticket.

A year after losing the mayoral office, Buckley was a weekly fixture on the airwaves and soon syndicated nationwide through WOR-TV (New York).

Along with DVDs of every episode, Hoover’s Library and Archives has the administrative files, program preparation materials, photographs, and transcripts of “Firing Line.” For historians, students, and people who lived through the latter part of the 20th century, it is a true treasure as well as great fun.

 

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

 

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A half-century after it premiered on television and 17 years after its final broadcast, William F. Buckley Jr’s storied “Firing Line” series has found a new home—and a new generation of fans.
Stanford, William Buckley, Firing Line
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2016-03-19
Friday, 19 Aug 2016 03:03 PM
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