'Best of Enemies'
Relegated to be a third-place network, ABC decided to try something different for their upcoming coverage of the 1968 presidential conventions: Hire sworn ideological enemies William F. Buckley Jr. and Gore Vidal to summarize the issues in a nightly postmortem. For ten debates, the two men hurled insults at each other and attempted character assassinations instead of political punditry; it ended with Vidal calling his sparring partner a "crypto-Nazi" and Buckley threatening to punch the novelist in the face on live TV. Culling together footage and providing a complete context around the media event, documentarians Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet From Stardom) make a compelling case that modern TV news — i.e. the victory of volume and rage over civilized discourse — starts here. Media history geeks, Christmas is about to come early. DF