Jfk Screen Personality

1033 Words 5 Pages
By emphasizing personality and appearance, political television also forced candidates to be theatrical and artificial. Samuel Lubell argued that politicians dealt with concern over media portrayal by creating a strong “screen personality” to build positive images and win public support. Kennedy’s victory in the first debate was indicative of Lubell’s assertion. In essence, Kennedy was an actor. His campaign’s Brain Trust, consisting of Ted Sorenson and Richard Goodwin, urged him to entice voters with his intellect and charm. Kennedy did exactly that. He won by putting forth a charismatic, knowledgeable, and vigorous screen personality that transcended his youth and separated him from Nixon. One way that Kennedy flashed his intelligence was …show more content…
Judging from increased exposure in other communication mediums, Kennedy and Nixon realized the importance of influencing public perceptions through television. In the days following the debate, hundreds of newspapers discussed Kennedy and Nixon’s performances. They reflected surprise over Kennedy’s success and Nixon’s poor performance. Articles, interviews, columns and editorials went into great detail and headlined phrases that summarized the candidates’ images. For instance, one of The Boston Globe’s articles on September 28 headlined, “Personalities Show, Viewpoints Blur,” referring to Kennedy’s superior personality. On the same day, an article from the Wall Street Journal read, “Most TV Viewers Give Kennedy Edge In Debate With Nixon,” and discussed the superiority of Kennedy’s image on television. Based on this exposure, Kennedy and Nixon realized the importance of spreading positive images to the public. They used television because it was the most effective way to reach a large number of people. Not including the debates, the Kennedy and Nixon campaigns purchased three million dollars worth of radio and television advertising time combined. This unprecedented exposure on television made Kennedy and Nixon the most recognizable presidential candidates in history. Not only did this exposure influence voter perceptions, but it also helped Kennedy gain tremendous name …show more content…
The first televised debate forced viewers to consider both sides before making conclusions. Debate optimists coined the term “double exposure”, believing that the debate would at least double the exposure for both candidates. The term held true. Kennedy and Nixon preached to the mass electorate instead of audiences of convinced voters. Unfortunately for Nixon, Kennedy benefited from this the most. His able performance dissolved doubts of immaturity and inexperience among the undecided and independent vote. In Kurt Lang’s study of 295 New York viewers, 222 people changed their voting intentions after the debate, and over 80% of these switches benefited Kennedy. Kennedy’s dazzling performance made voters reconsider their voting intentions. In addition to undecided and independent voters, Kennedy’s television performance convinced some Republicans to switch. Lang’s study found several Nixon supporters that switched to Kennedy, but zero Kennedy supporters that switched to Nixon. In the Wall Street Journal, Henry Clark, a Jacksonville real estate broker, confessed, “I always thought Kennedy was a kiddie, but he really came out last night. I’d been leaning towards Nixon, but now I think Kennedy’s the boy. He has more brains, an amazing memory, and he’s a better speaker.” Add some analysis before last line. Considering that the 1960 election was one of the closest in 76 years, all of these changes in voting intentions might have been

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