Scholar Exhibits

The Advocates: An Important & Relevant Innovation in Public Affairs Television

Before Roger Fisher founded the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, he was nationally recognized for having created an award-winning public affairs television show, The Advocates, which aired on the Public Broadcasting Service. Over the course of its five year season, beginning in 1969 (plus additional shows in 1978-79 and in 1984), The Advocates previewed some of the ideas that appeared in Roger’s many writings and, eventually, as part of the Program on Negotiation itself. The Advocates used a modified trial format to debate what Roger called an “important public trouble,” not in the abstract, but in terms of what Roger called “a decidable question” — a situation where someone, whether a public figure or an individual citizen at home, had to decide what to do. Viewers in the studio audience or at home in their living rooms were invited to weigh in by mail, and during the first season, a remote audience on location somewhere else in the country offered their opinions as well. He saw this as part of an effort to help citizens make “public affairs your affairs.” The Advocates was produced initially through a joint effort by GBH in Boston and KCET in Los Angeles, two flagship stations in the public broadcasting network. The Advocates addressed issues ranging from civil disobedience to same-sex marriage. In some cases, the shows are more than four decades old, but many of the issues are still timely. When Roger was later teaching the Negotiation Workshop at Harvard Law School, in which I was a participant, he once said that preparing for trial and preparing for negotiation were very similar, except that in negotiation, “the judge you have to persuade is sitting across the table.” With The Advocates, you begin to get a clear sense of what he meant, in that the judge was really the viewer at home, rather than an adversary or impartial jurist. On the show, Roger played multiple roles: executive editor and moderator of the show during its first season; then later, as an advocate. I saw some of his multifaceted talent in action while I worked with him on the show during that first season. I took a leave of absence from law practice from 1969-70 to appear in thirteen episodes as a Boston-based advocate on the show, arguing one side or another of the issue which was assigned to me and the producers I worked with. Over time, The Advocates changed into more of a partisan debate on public questions, often with a regular liberal and conservative advocate, or advocates who were identified with specific issues. While this perhaps made for simpler television, the show may have lost some of Roger’s original mission: to frame public choices as necessarily challenging decisions, with positives and negatives for either course of action, rather than right paths versus wrong ones. This was a preview of his later (and famous) “presently perceived choice,” the idea that something which seems sensible to you might look different to someone on the other side of a dispute.

To learn more about The Advocates, Roger Fisher’s role in it, and some of the lessons the show has for us even after over forty years, you can read my more extensive introduction to the show, The Advocates: a retrospective on an important—and still relevant—innovation in public affairs television, written for the WGBH Educational Foundation, and maintained on its Open Vault website. On this GBH Open Vault website, you can see many episodes of The Advocates in their entirety, including a newly added episode in which Roger appeared as an advocate opposite William Kunstler on the subject of civil disobedience to the Vietnam War. This episode was shown by the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School at a special presentation on February 28, 2013, in preparation for a special Harvard Negotiation Law Review Symposium on Roger’s legacy held at Harvard Law School on March 1, 2013. The article for GBH grew out of my introduction to that February 28th presentation. The article also includes references to clips from that and several other episodes, and also contains a list of some of The Advocates shows that were produced, besides those which have been made available on the GBH Open Vault. While Professor Fisher is no longer with us, we can continue to learn from his example.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction to The Advocates and its creator, Professor Roger Fisher.
2. How did The Advocates get started?
3. Translating the courtroom and the classroom into television.
4. Working as an advocate on the show.
5. Choosing topics to debate as decidable questions.
6. Involving a decision-maker.
7. Arguing as advocates, not partisans.
8. Offering the viewer neutral introductory information.
9. Simplifying - rather than complicating - the issues.
10. Using direct examination of witnesses to lay out the case.
11. Illustrating arguments visually and not just verbally.
12. Conducting cross-argument more than cross-examination with opposing witnesses.
13. Involving the audience.
14. Going on location when possible.
15. Presenting topics before they became topical and revisiting them if left unresolved.
16. Earning praise and even awards.
17. Showcasing people as well as ideas.
18. The return of The Advocates.
19. The legacy of The Advocates? Seeing the legitimacy of alternative points of view.

1. Introduction to The Advocates and its creator, Professor Roger Fisher.

In 1969, a year after graduating from Harvard Law School, I was asked to appear on a new public television show to argue one side of an important public question. I undertook this responsibility for thirteen episodes during its first season, returning to the show one more time in 1979. The show, which earned both the Peabody Award and four Emmys, was called The Advocates. It grew out of the belief by Harvard Law School Professor Roger Fisher that television could help illuminate important issues in public affairs by using the adversary format of a trial, and its capacity for individual advocacy – including witness examination and cross- examination – in the court of public opinion of viewers at home.

I have been invited by the Mellon Project at GBH, and also the Harvard Negotiation Law Review, to provide some background on the show. In that work, I have drawn on my own memories, as well as from some of the documentary history which is available from Roger Fisher’s personal files in the Historical and Special Collections at the Harvard Law School Library, and materials provided by GBH.

Thanks to technical assistance from GBH and Allison Pekel, Coordinator for the Mellon Project, I have also been able to excerpt some short clips from several Advocates episodes from 1970, 1971, and 1979. These clips help illustrate some aspects of my own experience, as well as Roger Fisher’s skill at advocacy and explanation, and some of the changes in the show that took place over the ten years it was broadcast throughout the country.

The episodes on the Open Vault date primarily from the later years of the program, but a few were recorded during the first season when I was with the show. The Open Vault episodes have an unusual feature in that a viewer can read the transcript and click on a link which, after some time for loading, will take the viewer to that portion of the video from that show.

In the article itself, as noted above, you will find excerpts from episodes of the show, which are available on the Open Vault, and these clips will help illustrate points that are made in the article. In the box below are instructions on how to view the clips and return to the article.

When The Advocates was finishing its fourth, and what then appeared to be its final season, because of funding problems for public television that were unrelated to the show itself, GBH published a retrospective about the show entitled THE CASE FOR THE ADVOCATES (1973), provided to me by GBH. Finally, in a separate file are listed these and other resources about Professor Fisher and the author.

I hope that new viewers of these episodes might find that while The Advocates is no longer telecast, many of the shows will still provide food for thought, just as they did for viewers over forty years ago. While some of the issues debated on The Advocates are now decided, others are still very much with us today.

But first, before more of the story, here is how the Vanderbilt Library, which has a collection of hard copy materials about The Advocates, describes the show:

The Advocates was a public television network presentation of KCET, Los Angeles and GBH, Boston made possible by grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Ford Foundation. The purpose of the series was to stimulate public participation, and understanding, by focusing on realistic choices that must be made in the future, by having both sides of the question presented, and by demonstrating the interest which public officials have in both reasoned arguments and the views of their constituents. Having a one hour time slot, the program topics varied depending on current news and concerns of the public. The program ran from October 5, 1969 through May 23, 1974; then again bi-weekly from January 26, 1978, through September 9, 1979.”

What follows is an attempt to fill in more of the background and details of the show.

2. How did The Advocates get started?

Roger had earlier been critical of television, particularly public television, as not doing an adequate job of helping inform the public. He was quoted as saying:

“Most media are abysmal in that they talk about all aspects of a problem such as old age or drugs, but do not organize the choice for anybody. It’s important to say ‘Here is a choice.’ ”

More specifically, Roger was quoted as saying that:

“The general effect of TV discussion shows is boring, and even worse, depressing – for the format convinces people that they can have no influence on current affairs. Viewers hear all about something when it is too late to do anything about it. I suggested that instead of looking back, we look forward – at something specific that offers an operational choice for an elected official." 1

Roger’s solution was to translate a trial format to television in order to provide that choice, framed around what he liked to call a “decidable question.” The Advocates, however, had a prequel in the spring of 1969, when Boston’s public television station, GBH, aired six programs with arguments presented for both sides of local issues, entitled It’s Up to You... with the name of the specific decision-maker involved in each episode inserted into the title, usually a government official. For example, one show involved advocates and witnesses making a case before a key legislator who was deciding about the creation of a Housing Court for the City of Boston, while another involved a debate before a Massachusetts congressman who was considering a bill to provide elderly citizens with a minimum income. 2

It is unclear how It’s Up to You... came to be, but it had the earmarks of Roger’s thinking. This was evident as GBH built on that foundation to air a five-hour program involving various members of the Harvard University community which was moderated by Roger. Notably, this conversation appeared to have brought about a change in Harvard policies and an end to a Vietnam-era student strike at the University. 3

It’s Up to You... apparently sparked the idea for a more ambitious program, ultimately named The Advocates. Who was the individual responsible for the idea of proposing a grant request to the Ford Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for The Advocates? It is not clear from Roger’s papers, but Roger noted that the Ford Foundation was looking for a replacement for the Public Broadcasting Laboratory, and when the grant was made, he wrote that he had not been involved but was drafted for the show.4 At the time, the Ford Foundation made a grant of $3.35 million to GBH and its Los Angeles counterpart, KCET, to provide funding for the new show, 5 which first aired on October 5, 1969 on National Educational Television’s (the ancestor of the Public Broadcasting System, or PBS) 180 affiliated stations. 6

The project was daunting: to produce an hour-long live show at ten o’clock on Sunday night EST, every week for a full season of television, including choosing a topic, and putting it into the particular trial type format of The Advocates. A particular challenge was that television required content that would take precisely sixty minutes to air, and at this time, before videotaping made it possible to edit a show to fit the broadcast time slot, one had to shape the show on-air in order to fill the allotted time and no more.

In a memorandum to those involved in leading GBH and KCET, Roger described the objective of The Advocates:

“The original purpose of the series was to deal with public affairs in a way which would not only inform but would also make it somewhat more likely that each viewer would be willing and able to apply his talents to the solution of public problems – that he would consider public affairs as his affair. The objective was to use public television in a way which would tend to increase involvement and participation, and in particular, to instill a way of looking at problems from the point of view of what can be done and what we can do about it." 7

How did Roger try to fulfill that objective? He chose a combination of the courtroom and the law school classroom.

3. Translating the courtroom and the classroom into television.

The courtroom format is, at least in theory, designed to allow truth to emerge through a process of advocacy, where a proposition has to be proved to the satisfaction of an impartial jury to be true “beyond a reasonable doubt” in a criminal case, and at least “more probable than not” in a civil trial. A trained attorney presents evidence through witnesses, who are then subjected to cross-examination to reveal weak points in their memory, credibility, or evidence, or sometimes to rebuttal from witnesses who present an alternative point of view. The trial is supervised by a judge to keep order and rule on whether the evidence offered is admissible or not.

The challenge for the first year of the show was how to adapt that format to television. Trials can take days or weeks—never precisely an hour. The cases and witnesses take even longer to prepare, and worst of all, they’re often unexciting to hear or observe. The idea was to illuminate issues for the viewing citizen while not complicating them, which can sometimes occur in a trial with significant expert testimony, especially when scientific issues come into play. On the other hand, appellate argument is highly focused. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court usually allows only a half hour per side for oral argument. Roger brought his experience with these types of litigation to his work on The Advocates, as he had previously served as an assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General, a role where Roger argued and won a number of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The other foundation for the Advocates was the law school classroom. Unlike a trial or appellate argument, where the issue was more about what happened rather than what should happen, the law school classroom allows time to shape and then answer the interesting questions that might not have been directly involved in the legal decisions that law students are asked to read. Roger brought his experience as a classroom teacher at Harvard Law School to bear as well.

The Advocates therefore needed good questions, as well as a good format and topics that would lend themselves to trial-like discussion, rather than a classical debate, and questions about what should happen, rather than what did happen. Instead of having debaters argue one side or another of a proposition alone, The Advocates involved using informed witnesses who could testify about an issue from their own perspectives (with some shaping of their arguments by the attorney advocate since testimony time was at a premium). The judge would not rule on issues of law or evidence, but instead would become a moderator, to provide background, keep order, and – important to television – keep time.

The first season of The Advocates hired east and west coast advocates who would present the case every two weeks, alternating between Boston and Los Angeles. Joseph Oteri (a Boston trial lawyer) and I were the Boston advocates. Howard Miller, a University of Southern California Law Professor, and Max Greenbaum, a Los Angeles trial lawyer, were the Los Angeles advocates. During the first season, each show had to be put together largely in the less than fourteen days between episodes on the respective coast, though the topics and witnesses might be chosen more in advance. The original idea was to have a four-segment format, giving each advocate time to discuss each positive and negative side of a choice. That was soon replaced with a three-segment format, involving a presentation by the proponent and the opponent, followed by rebuttal. 8 As it turned out, the format that seemed to work best was to have two witnesses per side, or at most three, with a moderator who not only acted as a referee but also as a source of background information.

The Advocates also provided a preview of some of Roger’s later career. Many who read this article may recall that Roger went on from his work on The Advocates to found the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, and to author or co-author many of the best-known and most highly regarded works in the canon of dispute resolution, beginning with Getting To Yes, with William Ury and Bruce Patton, 9 and concluding with Beyond Reason,10 with Dr. Daniel Shapiro. Many of those ideas that Roger wrote and taught about, however, had early previews in some of his thinking while shaping The Advocates. For example, he argued that in a negotiation, it was important to provide the other side with something they did not have to work for in order to achieve, but could simply agree with. Roger called this idea a “yesable proposition.” I remember his saying that trial lawyers did not expect a judge to frame a decree if they won, but often would frame it for the judge to consider – and hopefully, adopt – as his or her own. In negotiation, however, Roger used to say that the judge was on the other side of the table, instead of on the bench. Here, in The Advocates, the ultimate judge was not the moderator but the viewer at home.

4. Working as an advocate on the show.

The shape of the show was still being formed in the summer of 1969, when I was a first year associate at the Boston law firm of Hill & Barlow. I got a call from a former student of Roger’s, inviting me to come and talk about television with Roger. That conversation ultimately led to me being asked to try out as an advocate for the first season. Roger agreed to serve as the show’s first Executive Editor, taking a leave of absence from his teaching at Harvard Law School. Even though I graduated from Harvard Law School, I had not met Roger before.

Roger asked me to participate in a videotaped audition by arguing about whether building a supersonic transport was worth it. Because I was so nervous, I sat down and used a paper airplane to illustrate a point about aerodynamics. I was later told that my audition tape and those of a number of other prospective advocates were shown to guests at an Arizona ranch where the show’s Executive Producer, Greg Harney, was on vacation. They decided that I would be a good counterpart for the able and colorful Joseph Oteri, and we did a pilot show on whether to ban the pesticide DDT. I recall one moment during the taping, when Joe swatted an imaginary fly on the set to make a point, I was then able to point out that he had “used a non-chemical pesticide.”

Because I was a new lawyer without the years of experience of my three advocate counterparts, Roger asked me to work as both an advocate and a full-time member of The Advocates staff. This required me to take a leave of absence from my law firm, to which the firm agreed. I was therefore involved during much of the first season of the show when its foundation was being laid. We dealt with such issues as building the supersonic transport (this time for real), welfare reform, no-fault divorce, prepaid medical practice, and gambling on professional football, among others. Three of these shows from the first season – indeed, the only ones from 1969-70 – now appear on the Open Vault: one on our Cuba policy; another on expelling disruptive college students; and my final show for that season, on whether to provide methadone maintenance to heroin addicts. 11

It was a challenging but heady time. I was teamed with Peter McGhee, an experienced producer who ultimately succeeded Roger as Executive Editor, and Molly Teicholz, herself a young lawyer who later became an associate law school dean, though she tragically died in the prime of her career.

In working on an upcoming show, our team had to learn, prepare, and clarify the arguments about an important public issue and find witnesses who could expound them on a two-week show cycle, all before email or the internet. This process often involved initial telephone calls where we first tried to find knowledgeable people, used their introductions to meet others they knew, and then, once we had an idea of the facts, issues, and arguments, trying to persuade witnesses to come and appear, even if only for a few minutes.

We then had to decide how to present the case for or against the question involved, all in about twenty-two minutes a side, including an opening argument, direct witness examination, cross-examination, and a closing argument. This advocacy involved no rehearsal or script, though I often found it helpful to write out what I wanted to say. (This practice was helpful for clarity but not so much for spontaneity.) Typically, this framework meant four minutes for direct examination, five minutes for cross-examination, one to two minutes for an opening, and a minute or even less for closing argument.

5. Choosing topics to debate as decidable questions.

In the early days, choosing the topics was key. Roger insisted that it was not enough to debate public policy. While some choices depended primarily on questions of technical fact or administrative expertise, Roger as Executive Editor sought decisions in which the public also ought to play a role in the decision process. Roger believed the show could promote citizen involvement in public affairs by encouraging them to be participants and not just spectators.

Echoing the prior show, It’s Up to You..., Roger wanted the debate to be framed around what he called a “decidable question,” an operational choice where someone with a real decision to make might be informed and even affected by the argument while the citizen audience played the same role in their own minds. “The most difficult thing about solving a problem is to formulate the issue,” Roger is quoted as saying.12 The question he always asked was: “What shall we do? That question engages the viewer. It gives him something to do besides wringing his hands in guilt and frustration." 13

Roger also believed that the topics to be debated should include what he called “an important trouble.” He wanted the show to address major concerns faced by the United States such as poverty, crime, ineffective state and local government, war, racial conflict, etc., rather than topical issues – presumably less critical to the function of democracy – such as nudity in the theater, the use of four letter words, and sex education or prayer in public schools. (He relented on that when we did one show, now unavailable, on whether or not we should stop giving Christmas presents.)

But, like any TV show, The Advocates sought to gain viewers and present issues of interest to them. Roger felt that some important topics, like the allocation of jurisdiction among committees, or the size of a state legislature, have little emotional excitement. Others, like busing students to integrate public schools or taxation of all church property, spark immediate emotional reaction. The challenge was to find the right topics for the show and the right way to frame the questions. While brainstorming subjects, Roger wanted to create “a barrel full of excellent topics so that we skim only the few best ideas off the top of the barrel." 14 Roger and the producers would start off with a larger topic such as “allocation of resources to the military” before narrowing in on a more specific question like “should the United States Defense budget be cut to $50 billion?”

Roger also believed that topics should have a sense of immediacy and reality. In 1970, he wrote that: “issues to be decided [years later] ... are less desirable for our purposes than issues to be decided next month."15 Questions that would in fact be decided consciously by real political leaders were preferable to those that appeared hypothetical. “The key to solving problems,” Fisher said, “is to look out the front of the bus, not the back. In other words, one shouldn’t dwell on what caused the trouble, but on trying to find a solution to the existing problem."16

When thinking about what topics to cover, he offered the following summary: “Each topic we pick must have four qualifications ... Is it a major problem? Is there somebody who can make a difference—who can listen to both sides and make a decision? Is it a decidable issue? Is it good TV?" 17

Below is a clip of Roger describing that set of ideas while acting as a moderator on the show concerning our Cuba Policy. See 00:00:59 - 00:01:18.

6. Involving a decision-maker.

For the show to be truly effective, though, the issue at hand would not just be one for the citizen but, ideally, be presented to a real person “who can make a difference.” Roger believed that a bigger impact would be made if the show could identify one particular individual from among those in power who was most able to do something about the “important trouble.” He believed the show shouldn’t “spend time explaining how big the problem is or how difficult it is to solve ... Instead, identify who is in a good position to do something about it and set out a specific, detached proposal of what he ought to do next."18

For example, one of the early shows available on the GBH website, in which I was involved, invited Boston Mayor Kevin White to hear the arguments on whether or not, as Mayor, he should support a methadone maintenance program for heroin addicts.

In the clip below, you will see the advocates and moderator introduced. See 00:00:16 - 00:00:42

As the “man with a choice,” Mayor White was involved in the process, and was able to ask questions of the witnesses. Below is one example. See 00:39:37 - 00:40:51

Notwithstanding the importance of the decision-maker in the early versions of The Advocates, the idea of having a decision-maker was ultimately abandoned in the second season of the show, for reasons not clear from the record, except for references in some of Roger’s papers that good “decision-makers” were hard to find. 19

For comparison, below is a similar opening for The Advocates from the episode on trucking deregulation in 1979 without any decision-maker presiding, even though the issue was apparently pending before Congress. See 00:03:09 - 00:06:14

7. Arguing as advocates, not partisans.

In the first year of the show and for a while thereafter, the individual advocates were not identified with a point of view. We did not know which side we would be asked to argue; it was almost a flip of the coin, in that we didn’t know if we were going to be arguing in favor of this or against that. Roger saw individual advocates like British barristers who would make responsible arguments on either side, but not necessarily assert their own viewpoints. He said that he wanted the viewers to focus on the issues and not just cheer on their favorite advocate, who might be presenting a case they agreed with one week, and then another case they might not, the next.

Below is a clip from the Methadone show emphasizing that impartiality, an explanation omitted from episodes in subsequent seasons as the advocates on the show became more identified with the arguments they presented. See 00:57:51 - 00:58:19

Roger did not want to formulate an issue for discussion, which put all “right-thinking” people on one side, but rather one that offered an open choice; on which a reasonable, well- intentioned man might decide, either way. The intention was to recognize that there was often a legitimate constituency on each side, and that there are pros and cons to public policy choices. He felt that “[t]he public should be made to know that law is a process and not all trial law and criminal law; that an adversary system doesn’t always pit good guys against bad guys."20

For example, I remember that during the show on expelling student disrupters, I was asked to argue in favor of automatic expulsion. My producers and I then found one witness against student disruption, President James Hester of New York University, and one in favor of automatic penalties, Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz (who was my instructor in criminal law at Harvard). As it happened, neither of them would embrace the whole proposition; nonetheless, framing the issue this way left some daylight for an alternative point of view.21 Below is a clip showing that neither witness was testifying to support the whole proposition which I was charged to advocate. See 00:00:52 - 00:01:52

(This show is also available on the GBH Open Vault.) Here is a clip showing that neither witness was testifying to support the whole proposition which I was charged to advocate. (You may return to the article when the time-bar at the bottom of the video reaches 1.53.)

This format, at least in the first year of the show, involved each production team knowing something about their opponents’ cases in advance. As a result, we knew most of what the other advocate team was going to argue, at least in general, and could make the cases complement each other. One exception I recall was a show we did on our Cuba policy, where I was assigned to present the case for keeping Cuba isolated. After listening to the argument on the other side, Roger, who was the moderator, turned to me and said:

“Well, we’ve listened to Mr. Oteri’s case for resuming trade with Cuba, and now let’s turn to the other side of the question. Mr. Baker, will you give us the case against resuming trade with Cuba.”

While my producer and I had arguments prepared, I had not known how my opponent, Joe Oteri, would argue his case I found that I was persuaded by his argument, even though I still had to argue the opposite point of view. I did the best I could (and readers can judge how successful I was, since the show is now on the Open Vault). See 00:15:22 - 00:26:21

The Cuba show illustrated for me the personal challenge of being an advocate. I found that I was much more effective when my side of the issue was something that I could advocate for with a clear conscience. I was too new to my craft to be able to present an argument, which I did not agree with, and spent much of my energy in discussing with my able producers what we should advocate, rather than reserving that energy for the show. (I was also too green to realize that the expectation of those involved was that those who appeared on camera were asked to execute a case. I had a different mental model of a lawyer in command of his case, rather than carrying out one that his producers had prepared.)

The difficulty of making arguments, regardless of the side assigned, may have led the show’s producers to move to a format where the topics were more two-sided and had a liberal or conservative position associated with them, as well as regular advocates who were personally comfortable in those roles. In the second season, the “barrister” format was abandoned for two regular advocates, law professor Howard Miller from Los Angeles, who continued from the first season, and William Rusher, Publisher of the National Review. They argued the liberal and conservative points of view, respectively.22

8. Offering the viewer neutral introductory information.

To assist viewers at home in finding a stance on the issue at hand, The Advocates aimed to convey enough factual information so that the viewer would feel competent to hear and then decide the question presented. Roger wrote:

“The opening two minutes should present enough hard, specific facts so that the viewer feels he has his ‘feet on the ground.’"23

When the experts disagreed, Roger felt that the viewer should be armed with enough information to be persuadable, rather than just confused. Therefore, the shows often began with a statement of the issue and some background information, usually introduced by the moderator, rather than the advocates. Below is an example from a 1979 show on trucking deregulation with moderator Michael Dukakis. See 00:01:20 - 00:01:49

The moderator would also sometimes add further explanation at the start of the show to ensure that the audience was familiar with particular terms used when discussing the subject matter for debate, as again occurred with moderator Dukakis. See 00:06:18 - 00:06:58

9. Simplifying—rather than complicating—the issues.

Roger insisted that we use the medium of television to simplify, but not over-simplify, the issues and the arguments, as advocates are asked to do in court. “Fisher believe[d] that all these issues could be made comprehensible to TV viewers if information were better organized to meet the layman’s needs." 24 He wanted us to take advantage of the visual medium that television provided. In the early days, Roger challenged us to get our arguments into a few words: literally, on to a board on the show’s set, like the weatherman. The intent was to reinforce what we and our witnesses would say, and to do it in a few phrases – a practice much more disciplined than even the 140 characters that Twitter demands. Roger wrote in 1970: “The advocates are more likely to have seventeen reasons for doing something than two. The skeleton of their contentions should be simpler and more apparent." 25

Here is a clip of me using the "Word Board" from the Methadone show. See 00:06:15 - 00:06:52

Ultimately, however, the “Word Board” fell by the wayside as the show evolved. Later, the Board was replaced by a simple introductory argument and introduction of witnesses, as in this example from 1979. See 00:04:48 - 00:05:42

10. Using direct examination of witnesses to lay out the case.

After the introduction, the advocates elicited arguments and information from witnesses through direct examination. For example, below is a direct examination by then-State Representative Barney Frank and witness, Senator Edward Kennedy, on the same Trucking show in 1979. See 00:07:09 - 00:07:24

11. Illustrating arguments visually and not just verbally.

Roger also encouraged us to use film, still pictures, animation, charts, maps, and real exhibits to gain interest and promote understanding in the arguments that were being presented. Our producers often used film and – in one episode on oil imports – Roger (as an advocate) gave a witness a live lobster to make the visual point that some goods were cheaper in different parts of the country. In another episode, I produced a raft used by escaping Cuban refugees, shown below. See 00:33:35 - 00:34:48

My own view, however, is that despite these aids, the interaction between advocates and witnesses made for the most riveting and illuminating television. Roger proved this himself when he appeared as an advocate on a show involving civil disobedience to the Vietnam War, in which he presented no visual aids but only powerful arguments. Here is Roger at work in that episode. See 00:55:35 - 00:55:56

As effective as it was, this closing argument does not include everything that Roger said. Executive Producer Greg Harney (Roger then having left the show as Executive Editor to return as an advocate) made a decision to excise a particular clip of Roger’s closing argument about the Vietnam War, on the grounds of concerns about appearing to advocate for contacting a specific organization, in an apparent contravention of federal tax laws barring political advocacy by nonprofit organizations, such as GBH and its Ford Foundation sponsor.26 Roger was understandably upset, saying:

“How can we show a program on the right and wrong things to do about a war protest without telling what the right things are? My whole position has been shot out from under me." 27 Executive Producer Harney, however, responded that: “Mr. Fisher was retained to be an advocate on the program and to present the case for his side. He was not retained to take final responsibility for the program."28

12. Conducting cross-argument more than cross-examination with opposing witnesses.

During the first year I was with the show, cross-examination was not designed to discredit the witness, as often goes on in a courtroom, but was really cross-argument. Our job on cross-examination was to make sure we got at the weak points in the other side’s case, and if possible, prove our case through what they had to say. That was easier said than done. Here is an example from the methadone show in 1970, where I was questioning an opposing witness. See 00:39:02 - 00:39:37

You never knew what the witness was going to say, and that was part of the appeal (as well as the challenge) of the show. Below is Roger with Howard Zinn as an opposing witness from the show on civil disobedience to the Vietnam War. See 00:51:53 - 00:52:24 And from 00:27:12 - 00:27:57 see William Kunstler cross-examining Allard Lowenstein in the same episode.

Below is another example where I had to cross-examine Senator Ted Kennedy, who was a proponent of deregulating trucking. See 00:15:06 - 00:15:32 Also see Senator Kennedy’s response from 00:15:45 - 00:16:17. Occasionally, however, there were some lighter moments. For example, then-State Representative Barney Frank can be seen from 00:42:05 - 00:42:34. Successful cross-examination required, on occasion, some redirect examination. The follow-up to Barney Frank’s cross-examination can be seen from 00:43:25 - 00:44:24.

13. Involving the audience.

An early feature of the show was audience participation and having a studio audience was part of what gave the show immediacy. During the first season, there were also live audiences watching at remote public television stations as well, which were in effect satellite audiences for the show. These audiences were organized by the local public broadcasting station involved with the help of Advocates producer, Hoagy Carmichael, Jr. Hoagy rode circuit around the United States to one public television station after another in order to get a local audience to view and react to the show, whether it was broadcast from Boston or Los Angeles. Trying to guess what the studio audience, remote audience, and viewers at home felt about your case turned out to be as difficult as predicting how the witnesses would perform, but it lent some level of reality to the discussion. In the first year – on the methadone show, for example – the studio audience was polled both before and after the arguments.

Here is a shot of the poll at the end of the show, and a clip of the tally being taken. See 00:52:12 - 00:53:36

Hoagy Carmichael had a poll of his remote audience as well, polling members before and after the show using bulky machinery that had to be moved from station to station around the country. In later seasons, with more partisan advocates, the audience did not vote during the show, but was invited to respond by mail, although that decision came under criticism:

“The audience vote on each program is, of course, far from being scientifically accurate, with the tally being subject to the distortions of organized pressure groups and inveterate letter writers. The results over an extended period, though, have been curious. The conservative side, it seems, ‘won’ 12 programs, while the liberals were picking up only 6."29

At the same time, the show did generate mail:

“Evidence of the amazing impact it had on its viewers was the fact that it drew 22,000 letters a month – or 177,000 for the 40-week season – more than was received by CBS News and Walter Cronkite, over the same period... [t]hus it more than lived up to its role of involving the viewer in critical issues." 30

Here is the audience being invited to vote at the end of the show on deregulation of trucking in 1979. See 00:56:12 - 00:56:32

14. Going on location when possible.

In the first season, while the show mostly alternated between studios in Boston and Los Angeles, it also went to Chicago for a show on police work and to Miami for the Cuba show. In later years, many programs were videotaped, rather than broadcast live. This gave flexibility to move to Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall, as well as to locations where the problem under discussion seemed more appropriate, such as Yosemite National Park, Phoenix, Madison (WI), Washington, D.C., the state prison in Chino (CA), Paris, Cologne, and even Stockholm. 31

15. Presenting topics before they became topical and revisiting them if left unresolved.

The producers argued that The Advocates had an advantage in that it previewed issues before they became newsworthy and were still open for public input and decision, not just discussing decisions that had already been made. 32 They also pointed out that the show covered topics that were not likely to receive sufficient media attention, e.g. abolition of involuntary confinement of mental patients, prohibition of industry-wide unions, conviction of criminal defendants by non-unanimous juries, restrictions on the use of national parks, mandatory prison sentences for drunken drivers, etc. 33

Moreover, The Advocates was able to reexamine questions as long as they remained unresolved, e.g. no fault insurance (twice), changes in the abortion laws (twice), forced busing issue (three times), and debating the handgun laws (twice). 34

16. Earning praise and even awards.

Even in its first year on the air, The Advocates received lots of positive press. Here are several quotations:

The a live debate, beefed up with films, visual aids and hostile witnesses. It is designed to explore the problems of the future and to encourage citizen participation. Television notoriously finds presentations of ideas difficult or impossible....The Advocates may be a breakthrough because it is an appealing package for opposing arguments, an alternative to the endless coffee-drinking, chain-smoking, late-night discussion shows. The strength of this program is in the knowledge that what the viewer sees is live, happening at the instant. The films and visuals are important for presentation of arguments, but the cross-examination of a hostile the drama that could turn The Advocates into a compelling program...this program could evolve into an important public service and might become an informational aid in Presidential elections and great national debates." 35

“This show is a real debate with real lawyers arguing real questions of current interest. It may not have the romance and action of the lawyer series on commercial TV, but it’s a lot more palatable, and sometimes more dramatic...the show[s] were both as illuminating as any discussion I have heard on commercial network news.... Aside from the value of presenting both sides of a question competently and simultaneously, The Advocates is a good chance to see some of the best lawyers in the country at work." 36

“The Advocates uses an effective courtroom format to inform and involve viewers in political issues while there’s still time to get off a mad letter to Congress. The Advocates is the closest television has come to date to a real contribution to participatory democracy. Both attorneys were well organized, used large clear charts and film clips with some humor to make their points, and their witnesses seemed top men, well informed."37

Not everyone agreed, however. In the spirit of The Advocates, here is an alternative point of view:

“Debate went out with the ark. It persists as a fossilized relic in certain academic institutions and, as one might sadly expect, on public television....From the sample offered...the real-life lawyers...are very tiresome and unendearing fellows....And the cross-examination lacks that power in the hands of a script writer or film editor to condense time and dramatize reality. The result is an exchange as dull as that in any courtroom on a normal day....Having supposedly galvanized interest, it is daringly suggested that the greatest contribution toward solving the problem at hand is to write to the producers of the program." 38

Station mangers supported the show, with 193 stations in 1972 choosing to air it, second only to Masterpiece Theatre with 199. 39 One station manager wrote:

“On no other continuing show does the viewer have an opportunity to hear all sides of controversial issues debated at the same setting in time and with key experts and witnesses from essential areas and fields involved in the point in question." 40

The Advocates won the Peabody award (a presentation of the University of Georgia given for distinguished achievement in television) for “television education” in its first season. The Peabody Awards are considered among the most prestigious in broadcasting, and in his presentation for the award, former FCC chairman Paul Porter said that it was given for a “thirty- nine week series of bold, invigorating debates on crucial issues." 41

At the time of the award, Roger Fisher said in a press release:

“Let us hope this will encourage more programs to recognize that television’s highest challenge is not to divert people from reality, or even to tell them about it, but to help them cope with it....The true measure of success for an hour’s broadcast is not its internal elegance, its technical excellence, or the size of its audience, but the degree to which it leaves each citizen better equipped to achieve his full potential."42

Russell Morash, GBH producer for The Advocates, said:

“I’ve never been connected with a show in which mail has been such a factor. This series has received more than 70,000 letters. We’ve been given the responsibility to air two sides of the question and we’ve learned that viewers value this objectivity above all else."43

The show got impressive fan mail from high officials and ordinary citizens alike. Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote: “I continue to watch The Advocates at every opportunity and join with many of your viewers in expressing appreciation for this fine program."

44 Another viewer wrote:

“I have thoroughly enjoyed The Advocates this past year. It has been the second most thought-provoking series I have ever watched. (Second only to Star Trek.) The Advocates is the type of program that I consider to be essential in a democracy. This is because it allows the average citizen to become informed about the crucial issues of the day by having both sides of the issue. My only complaint is that it isn’t on 12 months a year." 45

The show received plaudits from either side of the political spectrum. Here is one from conservative commentator William F. Buckley:

“The thought of doing without The Advocates is terribly depressing. It has been instructive, vigorous, stimulating and witty. What else could serious viewers ask for? And where else are they supposed to go?"46

Conversely, here is one from liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith:

“I know The Advocates both as a participant and as a viewer. In both roles, and especially the second, I came to believe it to be one of the fairest, most informative, and generally most interesting programs viewable in the last ten years." 47

The show was also praised by a Vietnam veteran named John Kerry, who went on to become a U.S. Senator, as well as the current Secretary of State: “I have watched the show often and know countless others who have also watched, and feel the series should be continued. In my experience in trying to change policy in this country, this is one of the few shows which consistently reaches opinion leaders and makers, and undoubtedly has a great effect in helping to determine the issues of the day." 48 Even Mohammed Ali weighed in. A fan of The Advocates, he agreed to make a short promotional spot for free, in which he said the show was: “good training... for your mind, that is."49

The Advocates then went on to win several other awards. During its second season, the show won a Christopher Award, a presentation of the Christophers given to programs which “affirm the highest values of the human spirit...demonstrate artistic and technical proficiency...and (which) have gained a significant degree of public acceptance.” In presenting the Christopher Award for The Advocates’ debate on school vouchers, Father Richard Armstrong called the program a “frank, informative exploration of both sides of a complex issue." 50 During its fourth season, the show won four Emmys, presented by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in the “Special Classification of Outstanding Program and Individual Achievement." 1

When it was not clear whether the show would be funded for a full season in 1973-74, Bill Hart, station manager for WYES in New Orleans wrote:

The Advocates is a valuable show we would like to see preserved. It is the only format where controversy is shown through unbiased presentation....We tried to do a local show patterned after The Advocates and discovered how difficult and how expensive it was to do properly." 52

17. Showcasing people as well as ideas.

As indicated earlier, one unusual aspect of the show is that Roger was not only the show’s first Executive Editor, but on occasion he also moderated the discussion, like a judge, as he did with the Cuba show; and, as in the show about Civil Disobedience, now on the Open Vault, appeared as an advocate himself. Michael Dukakis, former Massachusetts Governor and 1988 Democratic Presidential nominee, moderated the discussion (and you can see him in other clips from 1979). Governor Dukakis, who moderated a number of shows, appeared first on The Advocates when I asked him to be a witness for me in favor of no-fault auto insurance. Ironically, that was a show where I ended up cross-examining then-Suffolk Law School Professor David Sargent, who went on to become my Dean when I joined the Suffolk Law faculty in 1973.

The Advocates was a showcase for talented advocates and knowledgeable and entertaining witnesses. A glance at the shows that are available on the Open Vault includes advocates like Margaret Marshall, who became Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and Anthony Scalia, who became an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and Senator Joe Biden who became Vice-President of the United States. Prominent witnesses included California Governor Ronald Reagan, later President of the United States, and such other witnesses as U.S. Senators and Representatives in Congress like Sam Ervin (Democrat, North Carolina), Barry Goldwater (Republican, Arizona), Philip Hart (Democrat, Michigan), Hubert Humphrey (Democrat, Minnesota), George McGovern (Democrat, South Dakota), Charles Mathias (Republican, Maryland), Frank Moss (Democrat, Utah), Edmund Muskie (Democrat, Maine), and Robert Drinan (Democrat, Massachusetts); foreign government officials, such as King Hussein (Jordan), Kenneth Kaunda (President of Zambia), Golda Meir (Prime Minister of Israel), Julius Nyrere (President of Tanzania) and Nguyen Van Thieu (President, Republic of South Vietnam); economists like Milton Friedman (University of Chicago) and John Kenneth Galbraith (Harvard University); members of the clergy, such as William Sloane Coffin (Chaplin, Yale University) and Billy Graham (Evangelist); news people like Jack Anderson (syndicated columnist), Benjamin Bradlee (Executive Editor, “Washington Post”), Walter Cronkite (CBS), Edith Efron (writer, “TV Guide”) and Chet Huntley (NBC); union leaders, such as Leonard Woodcock (President, United Auto Workers); military officers like Gen. Lyman Lemnitzer (NATO); scientists, such as James Lovell (astronaut) and Karl Menninger, M.D. (Director, Menninger Institute); sportsmen like Pete Rozelle (NFL Commissioner) and John Mackey (Baltimore Colts); authors, such as Marshall McLuhan (“Medium is the Message”); and even Bob Keeshan (aka: Captain Kangaroo). 53

Policy and public argument aside, one of the underlying strengths of the show were the skilled producers who made The Advocates possible. For example, in Boston, I saw Russ Morash oversee the sometimes off-camera rivalry between the two advocate teams with a sense of humor that lightened the load as well as kept the peace. Also, during the first season, Hoagy Carmichael managed to use his own good will to persuade station managers around the country to help assemble audiences to hear the show, and it was no easy task.54 My own first-season regular producer, Peter McGhee, our usual opponent producer, Austin Hoyt, and later Susan Mayer, who helped me on the trucking show a decade later, were all committed to helping enhance public understanding of the issues we discussed.

Despite these talented people, and its successes, The Advocates apparently became the victim of uncertain funding. It went off the air at the end of the 1974 season. At the time, those involved with the show argued that, were it to be cancelled, the viewing public would lose:

  • A discussion of important issues likely to appear only on this program.
  • The only public affairs program willing and able to reexamine questions when
  • A public forum where large numbers of thoughtful citizens can appear to air their
  • The presentation of unorthodox arguments.
  • The questioning of interested parties by other interested parties, a way of eliminating
charges of reporter “bias”. 55

In 1978, Glenn Litton of WGBH Educational Foundation wrote Roger a letter in which he said:

“We need to remind our current audience of how unique the format still is, how fresh it remains, and how useful it can be to an electorate that is just as befuddled as ever. In short, more of your enthusiasm for and faith in reasoned argument put in a dramatic form needs to be heard."56

18. The return of The Advocates.

That argument was apparently persuasive, because the show was revived in 1979, and many of those shows are now on the Open Vault. As is apparent from some of the above clips in this article, I was invited back to the show to present the case in favor of continued regulation of the interstate trucking industry. I argued against State Representative Barney Frank and cross- examined Senator Ted Kennedy, while Dukakis (again) moderated the discussion.

Here is a clip of Barney Frank, arguing against regulation with Ted Kennedy as his star witness by televised remote broadcast.57 See 00:03:10 - 00:03:45

This show is remarkable in that it involved so many people who were involved in politics. Governor Dukakis has been mentioned before, and Barney Frank went on to be elected to Congress. Even I ended up in government, getting elected to the Board of Aldermen for Newton, Massachusetts, where I have served for over thirty years.

19. The legacy of The Advocates? Seeing the legitimacy of alternative points of view.

As the show progressed over the years, the debates became more polarized. This troubled Roger, and seemed to undermine the goal of giving viewers a difficult choice in which they must weigh the pros and cons of each side. He wrote in early 1970:

“In my mind, the most significant defect of the present format is that it is
organized around the arguments which each side advances, rather than around the
two alternatives with which the guest is confronted. Ideally, the structure of the
debate should end up with a clarification of the risks and opportunities which lie down one fork in the road, compared with those which lie down the other. It
would be great if the structure of the argument would result in a clarification of
the pluses and minuses on each side of the choice—for example: ‘Would you rather face the risk of too many innocent and harmless people being locked up or the risk of too many mentally unstable and perhaps dangerous people being free?’ At present, the format presents arguments for each side, tending to cause the
viewer to believe that he should pick his favorite argument, and come out that
way." 58

Ideally, the issues would have been presented as Roger desired, but that soon yielded to the dynamics of the adversary process and the need for drama, where each side made the best case it could. Even Roger, with his framework in mind, presented his case vigorously during the civil disobedience show with no apparent willingness to concede that the choice he advocated might have some defects. Thus, an irony is that – while illuminating and clarifying issues – the adversary process pushed even Roger toward a more polar presentation.

The Advocates therefore illustrates the challenges of explaining public affairs while allowing for alternative points of view to have legitimacy. I believe that was Roger’s objective early on in the show, by assigning us roles more like barristers, before the show evolved to a point where the advocates began bringing a personal perspective to their arguments.

When the show went off the air after its revival in 1979, David Kuhn of GBH wrote a letter looking back on the show. In it he said:

“No other form has emerged on television which allows expert witnesses to give their testimony and then subject them to the rigor of tough cross-examination. No other program has The Advocates’ commitment to equal time and equal attention to both sides of a debate. No other program has so high an investment in thorough preparation and research for each broadcast. We have now ended production, and have no firm commitments for future funding....The Advocates should be part of the great debates which confront the nation. What we do on television can make a difference. I think the tone of our work can influence public policy in this country, and can raise the level of public discussion." 59

But today, when we have gridlock in Washington thanks to lawmakers’ (and perhaps their constituents’) inability to treat the other side’s arguments as legitimate, Roger’s original goal, of impassioned but objective public education – and of debate as an illuminating force, rather than a partisan, persuasive ones – is worth remembering. One of the lessons that I took away from working with Roger was summed up nicely by Roger’s former colleague and co- author of Getting to Yes,60 Bruce Patton. Bruce said that you really have to understand and perceive how the choices are viewed from the other side in order to get anywhere, let alone go forward.61

Roger always said that armed with the correct information and perspective, one person can make a difference. He was never referring to himself, but from this vantage point, forty years later, it is clear that Roger was one of those people who managed to make a difference, and we can continue to benefit from his example.


1Peggy Hudson, So You Want to Be a TV Decision-Maker? SENIOR SCHOLASTIC MAGAZINE, Jan. 5, 1970 (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 140, Folder 14).

2Letter from Michael Rice, Director of Television Programming, GBH TV, to Archibald L. Gillies (May 2, 1969) (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 142, Folder 4). My memory is that there was also another show on British television which was shown at GBH as a source of ideas.


4Carole J. Uhlaner, Fisher to Edit T.V. Show On Public Policy Affairs, HARVARD CRIMSON, Sep. 29, 1969 (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 140, Folder 14).

5The Advocates NEWSWEEK, Oct. 20, 1969 (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 140, Folder 4).

6Peggy Hudson, So You Want to Be a TV Decision-Maker?, SENIOR SCHOLASTIC MAGAZINE, Jan. 5, 1970 (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 140, Folder 14).

7Memorandum from Roger Fisher, Exec. Editor, The Advocates, to James Loper and Hartford Gunn (Jan. 18, 1970) (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 141, Folder 36).

8Memorandum from Roger Fisher, Exec. Editor, The Advocates, to James Loper and Hartford Gunn (Jan. 18, 1970) (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 141, Folder 36).



10Joyce Gabriel, Meet Roger Fisher: Out of the Ivory Tower, Into the Living Room, TV SCOUT, Jun. 16, 1970 (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 140, Folder 4).

11Clarence Petersen, The Advocates: Perry Mason with ‘Decidable Issues,’ CHICAGO TRIBUNE, Oct. 4, 1970 (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 142, Folder 1).

12Roger Fisher, “The Advocates: Reports and Papers for New York Meeting” (Jan. 20, 1970) (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 141, Folder 36).


14Fisher quoted in: Joyce Gabriel, Meet Roger Fisher: Out of the Ivory Tower, Into the Living Room, TV SCOUT, Jun. 16, 1970 (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 140, Folder 4).

15Peggy Hudson, So You Want to Be a TV Decision-Maker?, SENIOR SCHOLASTIC MAGAZINE, Jan. 5, 1970 (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 140, Folder 14).

16Instructions for viewing clips are found in the box on page 3 of this article.

17Gary Rubin, Fisher: A New Breed of TV Lawman, HARVARD LAW RECORD, February 15, 1972 (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 142, Folder 1).

18Cecil Smith, Advocates Mull Princeton Plan, LOS ANGELES TIMES, Oct. 6, 1970 (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 142, Folder 2)

19Gary Rubin, Fisher: A New Breed of TV Lawman, HARVARD LAW RECORD, February 15, 1972 (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 142, Folder 1).

20The Advocates, Episode 30: Should Colleges Adopt A Fixed Rule Expelling Any Student Who Used Obstruction, Sit-ins Or Other Illegal Physical Force As A Means Of Persuasion? (Apr. 26, 1970).

21The difference between being a lawyer in court and one on television became apparent to me when I visited the offices of the west coast Advocates at KCET in Los Angeles. In the east, those of us on camera were sometimes referred to as “the talent.” In the west, when I was introduced to the staff, the phrase sounded more like “The Talent!” This bicoastal difference illustrated the often healthy but still real tension between education and entertainment that marked the show, whichever team – Boston or Los Angeles - produced an episode.

22Cecil Smith, Advocates Mull Princeton Plan, LOS ANGELES TIMES, Oct. 6, 1970 (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 142, Folder 2). “Each man has his own pronounced ideological bent. William Rusher, publisher of National Review magazine is the conservative. Howard Miller, a lawyer and professor of law at the University of Southern California, is the liberal.” John J. O’Connor, TV: Stimulating Topical Debates on ‘Advocates,’ NEW YORK TIMES, Apr. 23, 1971 (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 142, Folder 1).

23Memorandum from Roger Fisher, Exec. Editor, The Advocates, to James Loper and Hartford Gunn (Jan. 18, 1970) (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 141, Folder 36).

24Gary Rubin, Fisher: A New Breed of TV Lawman, HARVARD LAW RECORD, February 15, 1972 (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 142, Folder 1).

25Memorandum from Roger Fisher, Exec. Editor, The Advocates, to James Loper and Hartford Gunn (Jan. 18, 1970) (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 141, Folder 36). Roger wrote that the “word board” as he called it, had become a “device with which the executive editor pressures the advocates to simplify their arguments.” Id. at 10.

26Percy Shain, Cut in ‘Advocates’ defended, BOSTON GLOBE, Apr. 21, 1971 (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 142, Folder 1).

27Percy Shain, Censor snags ‘Advocates’ show on anti-civil war civil disobedience, BOSTON GLOBE, Apr. 20, 1971 (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 142, Folder 1)

28Percy Shain, Cut in ‘Advocates’ defended, BOSTON GLOBE, Apr. 21, 1971 (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 142, Folder 1).

29TV: Stimulating Topical Debates on ‘Advocates,’ NEW YORK TIMES, Apr. 23, 1971 (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 142, Folder 1).

30 “Professor returns to class but his TV show lives on,” Boston Globe (10/2/1970). (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 142, Folder 2). Over later years, almost a million viewers responded to requests for viewer opinion. First Season (1969-70) Second Season (1970-1971) Third Season (1971-1972) Fourth Season (1972-1973) 177,881 228,455 200,125 311,977 918,438


GBH, THE CASE FOR THE ADVOCATES (1973) at 7. 10, 11.

33Id. at 12. 13.

35Norman Mark, CHICAGO DAILY NEWS Oct. 6, 1969.

36Gail Rock, DAILY NEWS RECORD (New York) Oct. 17, 1969.

37VARIETY (Los Angeles, CA) – Oct. 29, 1969.

38Alex Toogood, University of Texas, Program Reviews: The Advocates, EDUCATIONAL BROADCASTING REVIEW, Feb. 1970 (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 140, Folder 4). See also LAURIE OUELLETTE, VIEWERS LIKE YOU? HOW PUBLIC TV FAILED THE PEOPLE (2002) (“The Advocates and the discursive formation around it divorced politics from the everyday lives and emotions of ordinary people, casting democracy as an affair managed by professionals.” Id. at 129).

39GBH, THE CASE FOR THE ADVOCATES (1973) at 25. 27.

41Id. at 69.

42Memorandum regarding The Peabody Awards Recipients’ Comments from Bill Alexander and Herbert Hadad, Promotion Directors, The Advocates Recipients’ (Apr. 21, 1970) (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 142, Folder 6).



45Id. at 58.

46Id. at 64.

47Id. at 65.

48Id. at 64.

49Id. at 81.

50Id. at 69.

51Emmy Awards press release (undated) (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 142, Folder 6).


53GBH, THE CASE FOR THE ADVOCATES (1973) at 36-43.

54Hoagy Carmichael was multitalented, helping produce many shows thereafter, and at one time even made bamboo fly fishing rods by hand. An index of his good humor was that he was even willing to try to teach me how to cast with one.


56Letter from Glenn Litton to Roger Fisher (Aug. 7, 1978) (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 140, Folder 7).

57While I remember some of the argument, the part my family recalls is that my wife Sally and our two daughters, Mary Sarah and Nancy, were sitting directly under Senator Kennedy.

58Memorandum from Roger Fisher, Exec. Editor, The Advocates, to James Loper and Hartford Gunn (Jan. 18, 1970) (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 141, Folder 36).

59Letter from J. David Kuhn, GBH, to Irving Harris, The Aspen Institute (Jul. 9, 1979) (The Roger Fisher Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 140, Folder 7).


61Bruce Patton, Remarks at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School Special Screening of ‘The Advocates’ on Civil Disobedience (Feb.28, 2013).