'Firing Line' returns to PBS

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Thursday, September 19, 2019
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Sandy Kenyon has the latest on 'Firing Line' returning to PBS

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Turn on cable TV, and there's no shortage of opinions, but long before today's talking heads turned up the volume, public television featured a more civilized exchange of views on a show called "Firing Line."

It's been revived by PBS, and I recently paid a visit to the set on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

The show may be called "Firing Line," but there's nothing belligerent about it!

The program had been off the air for almost 20 years, and in the time since, this show, with a calm and thoughtful Republican host, has become an island of civility in troubled times.

"If you can begin to listen to people that you agree with and whose perspectives you understand and those you don't understand, then perhaps we can create a template and a space for others to do the same," host Margaret Hoover said.

Her small set is conducive to good conversation "because it creates this intimate environment where you're comfortable, and you're cozy, but you're engaged with the ideas," she said.

Some of her ideas are more liberal than other Republicans.

"I have always been an advocate of individual freedom, and for me personally, this comes to a woman's right to choose, and it also comes to the freedom of all Americans including, LGBT Americans," she said.

The original "Firing Line" was hosted by a conservative icon, the late William F. Buckley, who conceived the show as a place where differing points of view could be heard, where everyone from Ronald Reagan to Jesse Jackson would be welcome.

The new version continues in that tradition. In fact, following a show last season, Stacey Abrams, the Democratic politician from Georgia, told Hoover, "you know how to push without being obnoxious, and that's a skill."

The producers are veterans of ABC News, Alyssa Litoff and Tom Yellen.

"I think the value of it is really not necessarily that we're going to change people's minds, but I hope that it will create a little more tolerance," Yellen said.

Adds Litoff, "when we are being torn apart, we need to figure out how to come back together."

Margaret Hoover is the great-granddaughter of former U.S. President Herbert Hoover. She's a conservative, political commentator who is also a gay rights advocate and concludes by saying, "we will never come together as a country to solve some of our greatest problems if we can't begin to listen to others."

"Firing Line" airs Friday evenings on PBS.


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