Their new unpopularity

“[NBC producer Lew Koch] was inordinately proud of what they’d produced – 1968’s version of Bull Connor’s fire hoses: glorious moral theater, naked evil being visited upon innocents. He repaired to NBC headquarters at the Merchandise Mart after that first broadcast filled with self-satisfaction. A sympathizer with the antiwar movement, he thought he had advanced their cause considerably. The assignment editor asked him to help with the phones; the switchboard was overwhelmed.

The first call: ‘I saw those cops beating the kids – right on for the cops!’

Another: ‘You fucking commies!’ He was referring to NBC – as if they had instigated the riots.

The calls kept coming, dozens. They came to all the networks, for days upon days. Some people saw noble cops innocently defending themselves. Others accused the networks of hiring cops to beat up kids to spice up the show. Lew Koch was so shaken by the experience, he left for a soul-searching six-month leave of absence.”

– Rick Perlstein, Nixonland

“Godfrey Hodgson wrote of the media about-face: ‘They had been united, as rarely before, by their anger at Mayor Daley. Now they learned that the great majority of Americans sided with Daley, and against them. It was not only the humiliation of discovering that they had been wrong; there was also alarm at the discovery of their new unpopularity. Bosses and cops, everyone knew, were hated; it seemed that newspapers and television were hated even more.'”

– Rick Perlstein, Nixonland

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