Buckley Speaks at IOP

William F. Buckley Jr., one of the nation's foremost conservative voices, spoke about what he said was the liberal American media's distortion of political events to a crowd of more than 500 at the ARCO Forum last night.

Buckley was the featured speaker of the Theodore H. White Lecture on Press and Politics, an annual program which explores issues of the involvement of media in politics.

Buckley organized his speech around numerous examples of the press failing to illuminate ideas which Buckley said would interest the American people.

"The press and politics are passing each other on the opposite sides of the street," Buckley said.

As one example of a "popular misconception" created by the media, Buckley cited the belief that reduced taxation during the Reagan years led to the development of a national debt.


"There was a 52 percent increase in government spending in the '80s, as opposed to only a 17 percent increase in the '70s," Buckley said. "This is an eminently knowable fact. Why hasn't the media illuminated it?"

Buckley said that the primary reason for the "media's under-performance" is its inability to separate its own convictions from the stories it publishes.

"There is a general sense of acquiescence in ideological feeling with the people on whom they are reporting," Buckley said. "It is a known fact that 70 percent of the press voted Democrat two elections ago."

Warburg Professor of Economics Emeritus John Kenneth Galbraith, a liberal, began the night with a playful introduction.

"There are many wonderful things about Bill Buckley," Galbraith said. "He is an interesting, intelligent, thoughtful man, as long as you keep him off of politics."

Galbraith said that he refused to moderate the debate, because "there is nothing moderate about William Buckley."

A lively half-hour question and answer session followed Buckley's 50 minute speech.

One student asked Buckley about the decline of the written media.

Buckley acknowledged that 70 percent of the American public now get their news from television, but he said that "the press is still responsible for setting the agenda for the American public."

Another audience member asked Buckley what he thought of the proliferation of right-wing talk show hosts in response to the problems of the liberal media.

Buckley's response was clear and succinct.

"Well, obviously I think that anything right-wing is good," he said

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