Drawing on his own experience as an award-winning reporter and
TV producer and through illuminating interviews with journalists
and producers who have worked on presidential debates, Alan
Schroeder sheds new light on every debate from 1960 to the present.
From the selection of questioners to the camera angles, from issues
of makeup to lighting and stage set, Schroeder shows how decisions
are made that influence every aspect of what the audience
perceives. Presidential Debates: Forty Years of High-Risk
TV takes readers on a fascinating backstage tour, approaching
the debates within the framework of the fundamental steps to which
TV producers adhere: preproduction, production, and postproduction.
Calling upon behind-the-scenes stories from seven campaign seasons,
Schroeder illustrates how the live component of the debates, far
from diminishing dramatic potential, increases our anticipation --
not least because of viewer curiosity to watch one candidate make a
grave error and go down in flames.
Presidential Debates illuminates such details as:
• the elaborate attempts to offset height discrepancies between
candidates, such as the "belt buckle compromise" between Carter and
Ford mandating the height of the candidates' respective
• the full story behind debate moderator Bernard Shaw's infamous
question to Michael Dukakis about his wife being hypothetically
raped and murdered; and
• the calculation and faux-spontaneity of Reagan's influential
quip, "There you go again," which effectively dismissed Carter's
pointed accusations about health care.
With innumerable behind-the-scenes stories about the candidates,
their advisers, the on-air correspondents, the producers, and other
backstage lore, Schroeder illustrates how, like all forms of
television, debates combine artifice with truth. An unusual blend
of civics and show biz, the presidential debates are revealed here
as both carefully scripted rituals and opportunities for the
Subjects: Political Science, Sociology, Performing Arts
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