Behind the scenes of the first televised presidential debates 60 years ago
Kennedy was tanned and rested. Nixon wore the wrong color suit. The dos and don’ts of on-camera debates were written during this political face-off in 1960.
It was the first time two presidential candidates had ever squared off on live television, and for the young reporter just breaking into TV news, the two men debating on the flickering screen were a case study in television dos and don’ts.
“I was working at KHOU in Houston, just starting out in my so-called career,” says Dan Rather. “I had always been told, ‘Wear a dark suit on television.’ And there was John F. Kennedy, wearing a dark suit. Richard Nixon, on the other hand, was wearing a light gray suit.”
The two men stood in stark contrast, literally: On black-and-white screens, Kennedy was dominant against a light background, while Nixon seemed to blend into his surroundings.
The 2020 presidential election marks