The Nation: Re-Viewing the '60 Debates

"The revelation of any man comes through flashes of light." So said CBS President Frank Stanton before a journalism group in 1960 as he analyzed the Kennedy-Nixon TV debates of that year. It is a remark worth recalling as the Ford-Carter debates of 1976 approach. While it has become fashionable to belittle the first televised clash of major presidential candidates, the 1960 debates did illuminate important personal qualities of the two men—more so, in fact, than anyone realized at the time.

The flashes sometimes came as the cameras cut away from the candidate...

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