From Mark Ford, editor, Creating Wealth: In 1968, television network ABC was down in the ratings.
So it invited two public intellectuals to debate one another during the Democratic and Republican national conventions.
These men were William F. Buckley Jr. (the conservative) and Gore Vidal (the liberal).
Best of Enemies is a fascinating documentary that follows riveting footage of these two extremely bright and articulate foes debating each other. Within no time, the debates devolve into vicious ad hominem attacks.
At one point, Buckley even calls Vidal a “queer” and threatens to beat him up.
The film is also an engrossing account of America’s culture at the time: As you’re watching it, you keep thinking, “This would never happen now.”
It’s also interesting to watch from a marketer’s perspective. These debates were so engrossing that ABC moved up in the ratings… it went from being in third place to being in contention with its competitors.
All in all, an excellent hour and a half.