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UT’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and the School of Journalism and Electronic Media have partnered with East Tennessee PBS to present a screening of the documentary Best of Enemies at 7 p.m. Tuesday, October 25.

Free and open to the public, the screening is part of PBS’s Indie Lens Pop-Up series and will be held in the Baker Center’s Toyota Auditorium.

Best of Enemies is a documentary discussing the television event that changed news forever. In the summer of 1968, in an effort to improve its last-place rankings, ABC News hired two political intellectuals to debate during the national conventions—William F. Buckley Jr., a leader in the conservative movement, and Gore Vidal, a democrat and left-wing novelist.

The two were pitted against each other to discuss the issues raised in each convention. Neither of the men trusted the other, and each believed his counterpart’s political ideologies to be dangerous for America. Live and unscripted, their explosive exchanges kept viewers riveted, and ABC’s ratings skyrocketed. A new era in public discourse was born.

After the screening, a Q&A-style discussion will follow led by Mark Harmon, professor of journalism and electronic media, and Michael Fitzgerald, professor of political science.


Stuart N. Brotman (865-974-5139,

Nissa Dahlin-Brown (865-974-8681,