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Gov. Kirk argues in maternity ward - 4-9-70 - ABC

by Matt Delmont

Kirk’s successful management of television news coverage was most clearly on display as the school showdown stretched into its fourth day, when federal marshals tried unsuccessfully to remove Kirk’s men from the school building, while Kirk answered reporters’ questions from the maternity ward of a Tallahassee hospital where his wife had recently given birth. ABC broadcast a tense exchange between Kirk and reporter Gregory Jackson. “Confrontation has been turned 180 degrees,” Kirk contended. “The Federal government is the violator and I am the man who asks for law. I am the man who asks for his day in court. I am the man who pleads for hearing of my grievance.” In response to Jackson’s question, “then why don’t you follow the federal law which ordered desegregation?” Kirk raised and voice and pointed his finger at Jackson: “Oh, You’re a fool. This is the number one compliance state in the nation…You can tell your broadcasters in New York that as soon as they comply as much as Florida has, as the number one state in the nation in compliance, that’s the whole difference.” Kirk’s contrast of Florida and New York reiterated his call for a uniform national policy on desegregation and the widespread feeling among southern politicians that New York and the North got a free pass on de facto segregation from federal officials. Less obviously, Kirk’s pointed reference to “your broadcasters in New York” echoed Spiro Agnew’s attack on television news’ geographical bias: “Of the men who produce and direct the network news, the nation knows practically nothing…We do know that to a man these commentators and producers live and work in the geographical and intellectual confines of Washington, D.C., or New York City, the latter of which James Reston terms the most unrepresentative community in the entire United States.” Here again, Kirk positioned himself as defending Florida from a barrage of unjust external powers.

Gov. Kirk argues in maternity ward - 4-9-70 - ABC

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Gov. Kirk argues in maternity ward - 4-9-70 - ABC

from ABC Evening News (1970)
Creator: ABC
Distributor: ABC
Posted by Matt Delmont