Best of Enemies

New Mexico PBS, in collaboration with The University of New Mexico Department of Communication and Journalism, present a free screening, titled Best of Enemies, on Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. in the School of Engineering Auditorium. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Directed by Robert Gordon and Academy Award-winning Sundance Film Festival alum Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet from Stardom), Best of Enemies spotlights the birth of the highbrow blood sport practiced by today’s ever-present pundit television

In the summer of 1968, television news changed forever. Dead last in the ratings, ABC News hired two towering public intellectuals to debate each other during the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

William F. Buckley Jr. was a leading light of the new conservative movement. Gore Vidal, a Democrat and cousin to Jackie Onassis, was a leftist novelist and polemicist.

Armed with deep-seated distrust and enmity, Vidal and Buckley believed each other’s political ideologies were dangerous for America. Like rounds in a heavyweight battle, they pummeled out policy and personal insult, their explosive exchanges devolving into vitriolic name-calling.

Live and unscripted, they kept viewers riveted as Nixon became the Republican nominee in Miami and violence rocked the Democratic convention in Chicago. Ratings for ABC News skyrocketed and a new era in contentious public discourse was born.

The UNM School of Engineering Auditorium is located at 300 Redondo West Dr.