Television: Shh!

Replacing the old-fashioned fiery public debate, TV's countless panels run a week-long talkathon on every conceivable subject. To Literary Critic Diana Trilling, it seems a bad trade. The trouble: TV's moderators. Wrote Critic Trilling last week in the New York Herald Tribune: "If there was once a time when the moderator was a referee between antagonists, today he is a ubiquitous avoider or smoother-over of differences. One of the most distinguished is Howard K. Smith of The Great Challenge (CBS). Let one of the discussants so much as intimate a fresh idea or engage another of the panelists in controversy, and...

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