Creator: Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS)
Description: This video shows excerpts from the first presidential debate in U.S. history to be aired on television, between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
Date: September 26, 1960
Context and Things to Consider
- Many Americans who watched the debate on television believed that Kennedy had won, while those who listened to the debate on the radio generally considered the debate a tie or thought that Nixon had won. Think about how the form of television changed the way that politicians appeared to voters.
- Pay attention to Nixon and Kennedy's body language and facial expressions. Who appears most confident and well-at-ease? How might Kennedy's and Nixon's physical characteristics have played a different part in a televised debate compared to a radio debate?
- Television broadcasts allowed presidential candidates to appear side-by-side and debate each other on specific policies in real time. Consider how this would have affected the people's ability to compare candidates and make decisions about who to vote for.