Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the first televised debate between presidential candidates. The debate marked a significant change in the role of television in political campaigns. People watching the debate on television generally believed that Kennedy won while those listening on the radio believed that Nixon had prevailed. The Kennedy Presidential Library has now made the full video of debate available on YouTube. Watch the debate below.
Applications for Education
In the past I’ve used clips of the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debate in my US History classes to demonstrate how and why television became important in Presidential campaigns. One way that you could use the video in your classroom is to divide your class and have one group watch the video and another group just listen to the audio. Then bring the students back together and have them decide which candidate did a better job.
For more lesson ideas about the role of media in politics check out The Living Room Candidate.