Throughout the summer months of 2015, the Hoover Institution in Washington, D.C. will host a rooftop series dedicated to Firing Line, one of the most significant and lively broadcasts in television history. Consisting of 1,505 installments filmed over thirty-three years, Firing Line is the longest-running public affairs show to feature a single host: the inimitable William F. Buckley Jr. The Library & Archives at the Hoover Institution house the expansive Firing Line collection, which includes administrative files, program preparation materials, photographs, transcripts, sound recordings, and videotape copies of the programs. The collection, which is open to the public, serves as an invaluable tool for understanding the social, political, and economic changes that marked the end of the twentieth century. The Hoover Institution summer series will celebrate the lasting achievement of Firing Line by screening significant episodes, followed by speakers who will discuss the legacy of the show and the issues discussed by Buckley and his on-air guests. Attendees of the summer series are invited to enjoy dinner and drinks while watching Buckley’s ingenious interviews and discussing the diverse topics they raise.
Firing Line ended its run in 1999, at the end of the millennium, yet its content laid the groundwork for numerous global issues debated today. The episodes screened will include such notable guests as journalist Arianna Huffington, Senator Ron Wyden, former attorney general Frank Sharry, former American Civil Liberties Union director Ira Glasser, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and former senator Arlen Specter.
- In June, the rooftop summer series will focus on Internet policies—particularly the controversy surrounding the Communications Decency Act of 1996–97.
- The July series will investigate immigration issues, featuring episodes from 1981 and 1995.
- August will focus on policy related to terrorism, spanning from 1981 to the present.
Former White House speechwriter, current Hoover research fellow, and two-time Firing Line guest Peter M. Robinson has commented that “Buckley was to television what Louis Armstrong was to the trumpet—the master of sustained improvisation . . . . For 33 years, Firing Line permitted Americans to watch a great man having serious fun.” We at Hoover hope that guests to the rooftop summer series will relish the tradition of intellectual entertainment begun by Buckley nearly half a century ago. The summer series will be held from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the evenings of June 10, July 15, and August 4 on the roof of the Johnson Center, 1399 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 20005. Those interested may RSVP to hooverdc [at] stanford.edu.
More information regarding the Firing Line collection held at the Hoover Institution is available through the Library & Archives website. Additionally, more than one hundred seventy episodes of the program are now available on Amazon Instant Video,which offers instant streaming on compatible devices.