Presidency and the Media

The Political government and the Mass Media are two huge manifestations of our nation of America. Over the years both have needed each other to be successful. In 1960 the potential of the, then small later to become known as powerful, media was seen in the Presidential Debates betweenJohn F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. This was thefirst time, nominees of two major parties met to debate during a general election. It was also thefirst huge televised event and so Congress suspended the equal time provision of the Federal Communications Act from 1934.
What is remembered most, is the telegenic “image” of Kennedy versus the decidedly non-telegenic image of Nixon. Nixon didn’t wear make-up, was recovering from the flu and had lost weight, and also suffered from a knee injury. He wore a gray suit, which provided little contrast with the background set. Kennedy wore a dark suit, wore make-up, and was coached on how to sit and what to do when he wasn’t speaking or looking at Nixon. The major theme was the threat of global communism. One study conducted during the conclusion of the debates noted that those who heard the debate on the radio thought the contest to be a draw, while those who had watched the broadcast thought Kennedy to be the clear winner.
During the next debate Nixon learned from the mistakes and adopted a more telegenic image by trying to emulate Kennedy and worn a dark suit and make-up, and also taking more of an aggressive stance. However it was too late, the characters had already been developed, and Nixon was decided not to be the media's favored. Kennedy was portrayed to be the young new way of America, with his welcoming presence, and strong patriotism, and pro-press image, whereas Nixon was developed to be the anti-press and public opinion, paranoid, unwelcoming former Vice President.
This image was upheld by the media's coverage and/or non-coverage of major events during

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