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Presidential Debates & Public Television

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Isaac Asher

English Assignment 2


Sinai Academy

Presidential Debates & Public Television.

      Presidential debates are no longer what they used to be. Aside from the fact that it is now broadcasted on public television, the debates have a 60 second response time compared to the old fashioned 15 second answers.  Public television has helped Americans as a whole capture these responses in real time. It has had a huge impact on the deciding vote for who will become the next president for the better.

      According to Angus Campbell, the people of this country have "lost this feeling of direct contact - television has now restored it." When watching a presidential candidate speak on television, we automatically feel more connected to that person, just like when you watch the music video to a song instead of just listening to the audio. Seeing something with your eyes helps you understand it a lot more. Campbell also referred to the Nixon-Kennedy debate as well as others stating that it was making "A novel contribution to the political life of a nation." Saying that the combination of public television and presidential debates have helped us as a people and has become a key factor in the elections.

      In the second passage, Roderick P. Hart speaks about the negative factors behind public television and Presidential debates. Hart states that "because of television's celebrity system, Presidents are losing their distinctiveness as social actors and hence are often judged by standards formerly used to assess rock singers and movie stars;" The reason why this statement is false is because it's a matter of opinion. It is not actual fact. The facts are that the president still upholds his rank in society. He doesn't portray himself as a casual civilian when on public television. The way he speaks, acts, even talks is all done in a different way than most people, especially celebrities.

      Louis Menand writes in passage c (referring to Kennedy vs. Nixon) that "People who listened to the debates on the radio, scored it a draw; people who watched it thought that, except in the third debate, Kennedy had crush [Richard M.] Nixon." Source d disproves this statistic by showing the number of people who have watched the debates from 1960-1996. At the time of the debate,[1] the U.S. had a total of  approximately 183.5 million people. According to Nielsen Media Research (Source d), 28.1 million watched it at home. Out of the whole population, 53.4% were men and women between the ages of 20-65 and a majority of those people did not own a television. [2]Kennedy received 112,827 (0.17%) more votes than Nixon nationwide and although Nixon won the popular vote contest in more individual States (26 to 22), the electoral votes held by those various states, when cast, gave Kennedy an Electoral College victory of 303 to 219. Nixon was the first candidate in American presidential electoral history to lose an election despite carrying a majority of the states.  This disproves Menands statement that Kennedy was far more popular to the people because of public television.



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