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Gov. Kirk in maternity ward - 4-9-70 - CBS

by Matt Delmont

f Kirk successfully turned this verbal exchange to his advantage, he also benefited from the less than optimal filming conditions offered by the maternity ward. The footage broadcast on both ABC and CBS is cramped and a bit chaotic. The ABC cameraperson struggles to keep track of Kirk, producing a mid-shot that floats to Kirk’s right and left and focuses for several seconds on his right arm and hand at his side. CBS’s footage, shot behind Kirk’s left shoulder, is even less clear, with Kirk in profile and the side of his face barely visible. What is clear in both clips is that media personnel surrounded Kirk in an untraditional and unfamiliar filming environment. While this footage lacked the “good” images television news producers usually preferred (e.g., clearly framed subjects, steady cameras, and appropriate lighting), Kirk had by this point established a national profile that made the scene newsworthy. The chaotic filming conditions and close proximity (off camera) of his wife and newborn daughter (off-camera) also helped Kirk, who was six feet two inches tall and weighed over 200 pounds, seem less like a physically imposing bully than like someone whose personal and familial space was being violated by the news personnel. That busing opponents frequently invoked a parent’s right defend their children could not have been lost on Kirk or television viewers. With this televised maternity ward confrontation, Kirk made visible what millions of Americans felt was at stake in the battle over busing.

Gov. Kirk in maternity ward - 4-9-70 - CBS

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Gov. Kirk in maternity ward - 4-9-70 - CBS

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