THE networks had been forewarned of the subject matter of the speech —including a line that read: "Whether what I've said to you tonight will be seen and heard at all by the nation is not my decision, it's their decision." Hence "they," the three television networks, had their cameras warm and waiting when Spiro Agnew arrived to address the Midwestern Regional Republican Conference.

For 30 minutes—carried live in the dinner-hour news slot by the networks —Agnew inveighed against the commentators and producers who control the flow of information and comment to the nation's...

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