James Fallows has a long article in the upcoming Atlantic attempting to answer this question:
The most famous story about modern presidential campaigning now has a quaint old-world tone. It’s about the showdown between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy in the first debate of their 1960 campaign, which was also the very first nationally televised general-election debate in the United States.
The story is that Kennedy looked great, which is true, and Nixon looked terrible, which is also true—and that this visual difference had an unexpected electoral effect. As Theodore H. White described it in his hugely influential book The Making of the President 1960, which has set the model for campaign coverage ever since, “sample surveys” after the debate found that people who had only heardKennedy and Nixon talking, over the radio, thought that the debate had been a tie. But those who saw the two men on television were much more likely to think that Kennedy—handsome, tanned, non-sweaty, poised—had won.
Historians who have followed up on this story haven’t found data to back up White’s sight-versus-sound discovery. But from a modern perspective, the only surprising thing about his findings is that they came as a surprise. Today’s electorate has decades of televised politics behind it, from which one assumption is that of course images, and their emotional power, usually matter more than words and whatever logic they might try to convey.
Never has the dominance of the image over the word seemed more significant than this year, as the parties and the public prepare for the three general-election debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump that are scheduled to begin September 26 (as it happens, the anniversary of that first Kennedy-Nixon debate) and the one vice-presidential debate between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence, scheduled for October 4.
The whole thing is worth a read. I'm frustrated that I'll be in a rehearsal during the first debate, but I may stay up late after watching it.
For a couple of odd timing reasons, this is my first full 5-day week at my new job...and it's already a 5½-day week. So I've barely enough time to jot these articles down for future reading:
Have fun. I'll catch up to these in a day or two.
Well, not really; but this is worth a view.
Posing as her character C.J. Cregg, who was the press secretary in the critically acclaimed show that ran from 1999 until 2006, actress Allison Janney took a surprise turn on the podium to the delight and surprise of the real White House press corps.
Janney ended the spoof by revealing the real reason she was at the White House: to talk about opioid addiction and what was being done to combat the problem. Her current show on CBS, Mom, deals with drug addiction and its struggles.
"This is a disease that can touch anybody, and all of us can help reduce drug abuse through evidence-based treatment, prevention and recovery. Research shows it works, and courageous Americans show it works every day," Janney said.
This comes on the heels of Bradley Whitford (who played opposite Janney on The West Wing) endorsing Hillary Clinton as "by far the most qualified candidate to run for president in my lifetime."