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There is remarkably little description — less than five pages — of the debates themselves.


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This last fact is revealing. In the first televised presidential debates in , John Kennedy and Richard Nixon argued for four hours.

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Since televised debating returned in , 13 presidential and ten vice-presidential candidates have spent a further 39 and three-quarter hours standing at podiums, sitting at tables or prowling among studio audiences. Despite this, the number of moments that are deemed to have affected the outcome of the debate let alone the outcome of the election is strikingly small. One debate was decided by a man looking at his watch, another by an off-screen sigh.

It is also generally agreed that debates are not won but lost, which means that they have become essentially a defensive activity, like World Cup football. Presidential debating has become, essentially, an exercise in competitive safety play, interrupted very occasionally by a knock-out blow or, more often, by an own goal.

Although the debates have been televised since , head-to-heads between candidates have a much longer history in the US , going back to seven fabled three-hour tussles between the Illinois senatorial candidates Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln in which certainly did involve direct confrontation , all on the single subject of slavery. In the s, the League of Women Voters sponsored a ten-month series of radio debates, not between presidential candidates but between surrogates: journalists, scholars and fellow politicians.

Inside the Presidential Debates

In or any election since, that would have meant the involvement of upwards of 15 participants including the Communist Party candidate. Television viewers called it differently. Not knowing that Kennedy was wearing foundation, Nixon refused make-up. Even his suit let him down: the painted studio set had dried much lighter than expected, so that the dark-suited Kennedy stood out, while Nixon, in a light suit, seemed to blend into the background.

Kennedy had promised a barnstorming national debate tour to his friend and likely opponent in , the ultra-conservative Arizona senator Barry Goldwater. In the event, Lyndon Johnson was not inclined to risk what promised and turned out to be a landslide victory over Goldwater, and turned his debate challenge down. McCain, Inside the Presidential Debates will be welcomed in by anyone interested in where this crucial part of our democracy is headed—and how it got there.

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Newton N. Craig L. They are the authors and editors of numerous works and the coauthors of Abandoned in the Wasteland: Children, Television, and the First Amendment. This book tells that compelling story with wit, verve, and penetrating insight. The riveting first-person stories he and Craig LaMay tell of debates in one election after another take us to the heart of American political life and argue for a continued central role for debates in our electoral process.

Their book is must reading for anyone who wants to understand how to ensure that comes about. Convert currency. Add to Basket. Condition: New.

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Second Presidential Debate (C-SPAN)

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Introduction by Vartan Gregorian. New, unread copy, in new, mylar-protected dust jacket. Language: English. Brand new Book. Minow's long engagement with the world of television began nearly fifty years ago when President Kennedy appointed him chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. As its head, Minow would famously dub TV a "vast wasteland," thus inaugurating a career dedicated to reforming television to better serve the public interest. Since then, he has been chairman of PBS and on the board of CBS and other companies, but his most lasting contribution remains his leadership on televised presidential debates.

Written with longtime collaborator Craig L. Kennedy, Newton Minow. As co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, Mr. Minow has played a key role in organizing every presidential debate since We hope you will join us for a fascinating live discussion, and we hope you will participate by sending in your questions. This would also be a wonderful opportunity to join us in our shop and meet this fascinating man in person.

Abraham Lincoln Book Shop will open that day at a. Our address is W. Chicago Avenue, in Chicago. Newton N. Chicago: Newton Minow's long engagement with the world of television began nearly fifty years ago when President Kennedy appointed him chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.