Political Debates: What Unforgettable Moments Reveal | Retro Report
Tell-all moments in political debates are embedded in political folklore, from knockout one-liners to astonishing gaffes. High-stakes debates put candidates in the hot seat. But are they helpful to voters?
The first presidential debate in 1960 was a creation of the television age, and it quickly entered its founding lore. We’re told those who saw the debate on TV favored the handsome, well made-up Kennedy. Radio listeners, on the other hand, thought Nixon had won. Evidence supporting this story is shoddy — a mix of anecdote, assumptions and a debunked survey – but the story continues to shape how we understand debates today.
Many historians say there is a misplaced focus on the ability of make-up – or other non-substantive aspects of performance – to deliver political victory, when debates have become one of our most important civic rituals, allowing glimpses into candidate’s character that comes from them defending their ideas in an unscripted, high-stakes environment. But what impact has the changing media landscape had on debates? And what does that mean for this election?
More Like This
Impeached: How Presidents Handled it -- Trump vs. Clinton.
How can a president continue to govern with an impeachment trial looming? President Clinton and President Trump adopted very different strategies.
"No" on Impeachment Unites Today's GOP. In the 1950s, a Renegade Dared to Break Ranks
Breaking with party unity can be costly. In the 1950's, Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine faced backlash after she condemned Joseph McCarthy, a fellow Republican.
Do Whistleblower Protections Work? Ask This One.
A case from almost a decade ago reveals the peril faced by whistleblowers seeking to expose wrongdoing.
Echoes of Nixon in Trump's War on Press
President Trump’s efforts to clamp down on White House leaks have echoes of a pattern set during the Nixon era.