[CBS coverage of Democratic National Convention]

Saturday, August 25, 1956

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Seldes discusses a recent CBS coverage of the Democratic National Convention. During the opening night keynote address of the convention a documentary about the history of the Democratic party titled "The Pursuit of Happiness" was shown. CBS failed to air the film. In response, DNC Chairman Paul M. Butler "denounced the network from the platform" and sent a telegram demanding that CBS broadcast the film in full.

Seldes then reads the public exchange between CBS and Chairman Butler.
He sides with CBS in principle, stating that networks must be allowed to exercise editorial control. He goes on to discuss how the networks are "haunted" by the perception that they are a public utility and that the people are "haunted" by the prospect of networks having complete control to air whatever they feel.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 70522
Municipal archives id: LT7418

Hosted by:

Gilbert Seldes


Lowell Institute


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About Lively Arts, The

Legendary critic and author of The Seven Lively Arts Gilbert Seldes discusses big-thinking issues in art and life from his characteristically populist perspective.

Simultaneously a timely and visionary program, Gilbert Seldes's The Lively Arts (1953-1956) examines contemporary issues of 1950s television, radio, and theater, as well as current events and the intellectual arts. Seldes, who was the first Director for Television at CBS News and the founding Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, was also a renowned critic, author, playwright, and editor. As a major social critic and observer, Seldes viewed theater, television, and radio with a prescient eye to the future based on a well-informed understanding of the past. 

These programs feature commentary and discussion on a wide range of topics — from sex and censorship in the movies to progressive education to juvenile delinquency to political campaigning on television — many of which are still hotly debated today. Serving as a precursor to Seldes's television programs and providing an audio context for his seminal books, this show is key to understanding today's cultural commentary.


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