Fifty-seven years ago tonight, John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon met in the first-ever televised debate between major party presidential candidates.
Not everyone thought he looked awful: Nixon debating, 1960 (AP photo)
Soon enough, a hardy media myth grew up around the 1960 debate: It’s a robust trope that says radio listeners thought Nixon won while television viewers favored Kennedy.
Politico is the latest media outlet to give expression to the myth (or at least to its juiciest half).
An essay posted today declares that “most people who heard the debate on the radio, which focused on domestic issues, thought Nixon had won. But Nixon’s sickly image counted for more; most viewers focused on what they saw and not on what they heard.”
What’s remarkable about this hoary media myth is that it persists despite its thorough dismantling 30 years ago by David Vancil and Sue D. Pendell...Read all.