by Zoe Pollock

"Reality" can be a precarious thing these days, but it doesn't stop us from looking for it on television, even in the darkest of settings. In an appreciated blast from the past, Lapham's Quarterly excerpts a voice in time - Edward Jurist, television writer and producer on various TV quiz shows, including Quiz Kids and $64,000 Challenge, testifying in Washington on rigged games:

Mr. Lishman: Were the contestants given the questions and answers in advance of the program?

Mr. Jurist: Not to my knowledge.

Mr. Lishman: What type of assistance was given?

Mr. Jurist: May I start from a beginning point?

Mr. Lishman: Yes sir.

Mr. Jurist: Every effort was made to control the shows.

Mr. Lishman: What do you mean by “control”?

Mr. Jurist: Everything that happened on the show happened according to the desires of the producer. That was the aim. It mostly succeeded. Sometimes it failed. Primary procedure was to find out what people knew and frame questions accordingly.

The second procedure, to “inculcate,” is a word I like to use, the people with information you thought they ought to have in such a way that they ideally were not aware you were doing it. That would be, I would say, the extent on those other shows.

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