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'No Safe Spaces' director debuts new Fox Nation documentary on Lincoln-Douglas debates, which 'saved America'

'No Safe Spaces' director debuts new Fox Nation documentary on Lincoln-Douglas debates, which 'saved America'
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Justin Folk will debut a new documentary ahead of the first presidential debate between President TrumpDonald John TrumpFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' MORE and Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' MORE examining the historic Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, with the "No Safe Spaces" director telling The Hill that "the debates saved America."

Folk noted that the debates put Republican Abraham Lincoln, then an unknown, "on the map" primarily on the issue of slavery and ultimately to the presidency shortly before onset of the Civil War.

“Right Makes Might: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates," which will be offered exclusively on Fox Nation starting Thursday, is a deep-dive on the seven Illinois senatorial debates between Lincoln and incumbent Democratic Sen. Stephen Douglas. The Lincoln-Douglas debates were scheduled over the span of one month at different venues throughout Illinois.

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The format was decidedly different from the current 90-minute format U.S. viewers will see on Tuesday when Trump and Biden face off with a moderator. In 1858, the opening speaker was allotted 60 minutes, with the second speaker allotted 90 minutes. The event concludes with the opening speaker being given a 30-minute rebuttal.

Folk says he couldn't envision such a format working in the current U.S. political and media climate.

"I can't picture it. I don't know what would happen. I can't imagine these two guys talking for three hours and what that would do to the American public. I don't imagine it would be a good thing," Folk said with amusement. "We have a different style of leadership today and that's unfortunate, because back then guys like Lincoln and Douglas, they didn't have Twitter, they didn't have television ads."

"They didn't have pundits sitting on cable news, talking about what they wanted to accomplish and what their ideas were. They had to get up there and defend them with their own words. They knew what they believed," he continued. "They provided for a nice, robust debate about real ideas and not just this lobbing bombs back and forth and using the press to attack the other person."

The Lincoln-Douglas documentary was originally slated for release in U.S. theaters, but the coronavirus pandemic has made streaming options more attractive with moviegoers still largely apprehensive about returning to indoor venues with potentially large groups of people.

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Christopher Nolan's "Tenet," for example, took in just $30 million over two weeks at the American box office. Ten years ago, Nolan's "Inception" grossed $350 million in the U.S., while 2017's "Dunkirk" delivered $200 million.

"We wanted to find the best audience. We wanted to find the biggest audience," Folk said regarding the decision to exclusively launch the documentary on Fox Nation. "You see the streaming services pulling out old movies and just throwing them back up there. So we just knew that this endless appetite for new content and right now with the pandemic, this is where our audience is. They're online. They're streaming. And they're not at the movie theaters."

Fox Nation, a paid streaming service of Fox News, debuted in November 2018.