Book Review: Heather Hendershot’s “Open to Debate”

By: Abhay Rangray

As I watch contemporary political media, I find the sound-bite style of discourse and the meaningless platitudes underwhelming. I wish that a more formal, long-form style of debate were present on television today. Dr. Heather Hendershot shares this lamentation in her book Open to Debate: How William F. Buckley Put Liberal America on the Firing Line. Thoroughly researched and well written, the book provides thrilling and energetic descriptions of “Firing Line,” William F. Buckley Jr., and the conservative movement. Continue reading

On Buckley and the Modern Media Environment with MIT’s Heather Hendershot

Heather Hendershot, a Professor of Film and Media at MIT, visited the Buckley Program to discuss her recent book “Open to Debate: How William F. Buckley Put Liberal America on the Firing Line.” Prof. Hendershot is a Yale alumna, where she was in Berkeley College. The following transcript has been lightly edited from an interview just before she spoke with Buckley Fellows. 

By: Pranam Dey

Pranam: How did you decide write a book about Buckley?

Heather: I had been researching right-wing media and Evangelical media for my second book, on conservative Evangelical media. My third book was on Cold War right-wing broadcasting, and Buckley was sort of a bit player in that book because these broadcasters were a bit conspiratorial and some were quite nutty. Buckley wanted to push the nuts, people who thought the fluoridation of water was a conspiracy and so on, out of the conservative movement. Buckley wanted to forge a respectable, intellectual image for the conservative movement. Continue reading

Honorable Mention: Buckley High School Essay Contest

By: Zain Anthar

The following essay received an honorable mention at the Buckley Program’s spring semester high school essay contest. The topic was “What can we learn from William F. Buckley, Jr. today?”. 

In today’s media landscape, political discussions have swayed towards partisanship at the expense of meaningful, probing dialogue. Politicians opt to conduct interviews with their congenial news outlets in order to avoid the “toughies” – questions that penetrate through any attempt at feigning comprehension of an issue. Continue reading

Third Place: Buckley High School Essay Contest

By: Gabrielle Vozzi

The following essay was the third-place winner of the Buckley Program’s spring semester high school essay contest. The topic was “What can we learn from William F. Buckley, Jr. today?”. 

Today, the United States is a divided nation as political polarization can be seen in every corner of the country. Now, more than ever, this nation needs the wisdom of William F. Buckley, Jr. Buckley’s conservative beliefs and overall view of government can greatly influence the nation today. Continue reading

Second Place: Buckley High School Essay Contest

By: Calla Bai

The following essay was the second-place winner of the Buckley Program’s spring semester high school essay contest. The topic was “What can we learn from William F. Buckley, Jr. today?”. 

Champion of conservatism and celebrated founder of the National Review, William F. Buckley Jr. was one of the most influential figures in American politics who is remembered today. He had studied at Yale; written over 50 books on topics more imaginative than imaginable; hosted the popular television show, “The Firing Line”; and most importantly, in the predominantly liberal landscape after the World War II, he managed to make conservatism respectable and mainstream. Even apart from politics, there is a clear lesson that can be learned from Buckley’s life: to conform is to sacrifice risks, yet also greatness.

First Place: Buckley High School Essay Contest

By: Emma Weinheimer

The following essay was the winner of the Buckley Program’s spring semester high school essay contest. The topic was “What can we learn from William F. Buckley, Jr. today?”. 

William F. Buckley, Jr., certainly was a strong, conservative political mind with much to offer to the world. One could meander for hours through his commentaries and learn what he believed about many controversies of today’s world or how he could cleverly refute liberal arguments. From the same readings one can also learn that one can add wit to an argument and still make sense. However, I personally feel that we can learn a lot about gratitude from Mr. Buckley. Continue reading

Third Place: Buckley College Essay Contest

By: Sophie Dillon

The following essay was the third-place winner of the Buckley Program’s spring semester essay contest. The topic was “What can we learn from William F. Buckley, Jr. today?”. 

Last November, America experienced one of its most surprising elections to date, when Donald Trump edged out a win in a presidential race so close they couldn’t call a winner until three in the morning. Clinton supporters watched in astonished agony as the votes were tallied—what about the polls that had been promising a Hillary presidency for months? What about the reputable news sources who had denounced Trump’s comments as racist and sexist? The morning after the election, many Americans found themselves wondering—How could this have happened? Continue reading