Saturday, September 26, 2009

“I wish I could give you a lot of advice, based on my experience of winning political debates. But I don’t have that experience." - Richard Nixon

On September 24, 1960, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy took part in the first televised presidential debate. The two candidates appeared in front of an estimated audience of 60 million viewers for the first of four debates. The candidates took different approaches to their debate preparation. Kennedy rested beforehand and allowed the television crew to apply make- up to his skin before taping. This allowed him to appear relaxed and tan. Nixon, on the other hand, did not rest much before the taping. He had also been ill shortly before the debate, so he appeared underweight, pale and uncomfortable. In a storied political flub, Nixon did not wear any make up for the cameras before the debate. This made him appear pale and tired when standing beside a composed Kennedy. Those who listened to the debate on the radio believed Nixon to be the winner. Those who watched it on television thought the winner to be Kennedy. This speaks to the power of the televised image that would be cultivated by every other presidential candidate since the 1960 election. Nixon would wear make-up for the next three televised debates, but by then, fewer people were watching. Here is their first debate in two parts courtesy of

[Image via]

No comments:

Post a Comment