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1960: TV's First Presidential Debate: Nixon vs. Kennedy
September 26, 2020  | By TV WW  | 1 comment
 
On this day in 1960, an estimated 70 million Americans tuned in to watch Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard M. Nixon take part in the first-ever televised presidential debate. It was the first of four "Great Debates" between the two candidates, and demonstrated that television had the potential to be more than a vehicle for entertainment.

"It was the TV more than anything else that turned the tide," Kennedy famously said after his election.

As hard as it is to imagine now, at the time the candidates and their campaign teams had no idea how powerful the medium would prove to be. Nixon, weary from his promise to visit all 50 states before the election and recovering from a knee infection that required hospitalization, looked weak and ill next to the tan, well-rested Kennedy. (Nixon's refusal of stage make-up didn't help.)

A political underdog when the debate began, Kennedy's on-screen confidence captured the nation's attention. The televised debates continued on Oct. 7, 13 and 21, and Nixon did a much better job the second, third and fourth time around. But television's first impressions ultimately proved fateful for both candidates.

 
 
 
 
 
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1 Comments
 
 
John
Video is marked as private. "This is a private video. Please sign in to verify that you may see it."
Sep 27, 2019   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
Hi, John. Try it again. I think we've found a better one for you.
Sep 30, 2019
 
 
 
 
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