< Full Calendar

26-09-1960

First ever televised debate

For Fans Of Hot Air Everywhere

This may come as something of a surprise to some of you, but we are currently in the thrall of a great big American election. You probably hadn’t noticed because neither of the candidates are that noticeable or noteworthy. But on this day, back in 1960, a massive electoral event occurred as the first ever televised debate took place. In one corner was John F Kennedy and in the other, the current Vice President Richard Nixon. And the whole experience highlighted the power, and the deficiencies, of such a system. Over 60 million viewers watched the two men clash over domestic issues. The young, handsome, well-rested Kennedy came over remarkably well on television and was an instant hit with the audience. By contrast, Nixon had recently been in hospital and looked tired and still quite ill. He had refused make-up, which made him appear even more pallid. For TV viewers, JFK was the obvious victor. Though, to those listening on radio, the debate was far more evenly balanced with many thinking Nixon made more of an impact, illustrating the power of television and image.