In May and June, Hoover Library & Archives joined National Review Institute in hosting three fiftieth-anniversary events in honor of William F. Buckley Jr.'s landmark television show, Firing Line. Firing Line is to date television history's longest running public affairs show with a single host, and the program’s archive is among the most popular collections at Hoover. The events in Dallas, New York, and Washington, DC, coincided with Hoover's current exhibition, Civil Discourse: William F. Buckley Jr.'s Firing Line, 1966-1999, now on display in the Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibit Pavilion.
To celebrate William F. Buckley Jr. and his show's legacy, Hoover and National Review Institute staged Firing Line–style debates that centered on the issue of immigration. Attendees to the events also enjoyed a film featuring Hoover archival footage, remarks by National Review journalists who had worked under Buckley at his magazine, and a catalog published to accompany the exhibition, Civil Discourse.
In Dallas on May 24, the Firing Line commemoration was held at the Old Parkland, a historic hospital recently renovated by Dallas businessman and philanthropist Harlan Crowe. Old Parkland features artwork and furnishings celebrating iconic events and individuals in American history. The Old Parkland campus also includes a formal debate chamber that provided the ideal setting for the commemoration event. The audience enjoyed remarks by Lindsay Craig, president of National Review Institute, as well as a welcome by Harlan Crowe and a reflection on Buckley by Jonah Goldberg, founding editor of National Review Online and a weekly columnist for the Los Angeles Times. The debate was moderated by Christopher Wolfe, professor of politics at the University of Dallas; the participants included economist and Hoover fellow Timothy Kane as well as Linda Chavez, chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity, and Rich Lowry and Reihan Salam, editor and executive editor of National Review, respectively.
Two days after the event in Dallas, the debaters reconvened at the Union League Club in New York. The New York event opened with reflections on the Buckley legacy by L. Brent Bozell III, founder and president of the Media Research Center, as well as Richard Brookhiser, senior editor at the National Review. The ensuing debate was moderated by William McGurn, a member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board and former speechwriter for George W. Bush. During the debate Kane, Lowry, and Salam were joined by Jason L. Riley, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a columnist for the Wall Street Journal.
The final event of the series was held at Hoover’s Johnson Center in Washington, DC, which hosted a popular Firing Line rooftop series last summer. The Washington golden anniversary celebration featured a discussion between Heritage Foundation senior fellow Lee Edwards, National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru, and Brent Bozell on the show's historical significance. Their conversation was followed by a discussion between CNN contributor Margaret Hoover, American Enterprise Institute senior fellow and former US senator James Talent, and Hoover director of DC Programs Michael Franc on American political discourse and Buckley's legacy.
Live video of the Washington, DC, event is available through Hoover’s website.