William F Buckley Jr is one of the most important names in conservatism. He was instrumental in the creation of such conservative juggernauts at Young Americans for Freedom and National Review. However, one of his most beloved contributions to society was through his television program, Firing Line, a cable-televised debate program. With a tenure of 33 years and over 1,500 episodes, Firing Line is one of the longest running television shows of all time. The format was something hard to find on TV today. William F Buckley would sit down with a guest or a couple guests and discuss some topic of the day. However, he didn’t just have on politicians of the day and notorious pundits. He also welcomed guests from the entertainment industry, the private sector, academia, and beyond.

Many of Buckley’s debates are now preserved on that little thing called the internet, but 1,500 nearly hour-long episodes are a lot for a young person to take on. So, to ease you into the beauty that is Firing Line, check out these debates that are some of Buckley’s best with figures you should recognize!

Ronald Reagan: January 14, 1980

Who doesn’t love seeing Ronald Reagan in his natural habitat, talking about his positions and being his amazing self? Not every Buckley debate was with an adversary, and this was before Reagan became president.

Margaret Thatcher: September 14, 1975

In 1975, Margaret Thatcher went on Firing Line to discuss what Buckley calls “the British mess.” Check out what she had to say about the issues of the time and how they radiate through today’s political climate.

Clare Boothe Luce: March 31, 1975

Clare Boothe Luce was the first female ambassador to a major nation, Italy, but she’s often written out of history due to her conservatism. On this episode of Firing Line, she discusses the issues of feminism of the 1970s, which are ironic as feminists should celebrate Luce for her accomplishments but do not today.

Muhammad Ali:  December 12, 1968

Muhammad Ali was a huge figure in his day and it was no surprise that Buckley had him on to talk about the racial tensions of the 1960s, which we cannot even properly imagine today, but it is an interesting way to look at how he viewed the situation as a major leader in the sports world at the time.

John Kenneth Galbraith: June 5, 1981

John Kenneth Galbraith is one of the most important economists in recent history and advocated post-Keynesian economics. He was a huge Democratic supporter, Harvard alum, and worked in many presidential administrations. His discussion with Buckley is one fascinating experience.

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member