PBS to reboot Firing Line with Margaret Hoover

PBS announced that it will start airing new episodes of the classic political talk show Firing Line beginning in June.

The show ran from 1966 to 1999 with conservative icon William F. Buckley as host. The original Firing Line featured lively conversation with some of the biggest political and intellectual figures of the 20th century. 

The public network has tapped activist and author Margaret Hoover for the host spot.


Produced by WNET/Thirteen, the weekly series will bring together the brightest minds and freshest voices from across the political spectrum to engage in a contest of ideas about important issues confronting our nation, PBS said.  Firing Line with Margaret Hoover will launch at 10 AM Saturday, June 2, on New York's Thirteen, which will air the first three episodes before the series bows on PBS stations nationwide.

The pubcaster said the show will maintain the character of the original Buckley-fronted series, providing a platform that is diligent in its commitment to a balanced exchange of opinion.  The series, PBS notes, comes at a time when meaningful discourse in needed more than ever.

"Our mission is to renew the tradition of Firing Line for a new generation, offering a rigorous exchange of opinion with fresh voices addressing the challenges facing our democracy," said Hoover, whose political analysis is seen on CNN and ABC's The View.

PBS said that in order to frame the issues and give context to the discussion, the show will be complemented by archival footage from the original Firing Line series, which broadcast more than 1,500 episodes during its 33-year run.

Hoover is no Buckley – no one else is.  But the original show was known for its civility, which will be a pretty good trick to duplicate in this day and age.  Hoover is not a bomb-thrower, but neither is she considered a "conservative" by most of those who identify as conservatives these days.  The new host is known for her advocacy for gay rights and gay "marriage," and her persona is most definitely more "moderate" than most of those who call themselves conservatives today.

But unlike many liberals, Hoover is a staunch defender of personal liberty and individual freedom.  How that will play out when she hosts the new Firing Line remains to be seen.

PBS will begin airing the show on Saturday mornings – not a huge vote of confidence from the network.  But local affiliates will have some say in when the show is rebroadcast, which means it probably won't be too hard to find.