If you are a teacher, you might be interested in using the assignment below that I just sent to my Mass Media and Society class. I have copied and pasted it into this blog. A big thank you goes to PBS for putting together a list of debate clips and interviews, in addition to a teacher’s guide.
I’d like you to see some key moments and issues in the presidential debates. This will also prepare you for the Rate the Debate 2008 event.
What did Dukakis do in 1988 that made him look like he was a cold candidate? Find out here: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/debatingourdestiny/1988.html
Watch until at least 4:50 in terms of the time. Dukakis looks like a Spock of our time during the debate; however, he explains himself in a behind-the-scenes interview with Jim Lehrer. While you watch this clip, think about the role of evaluating the personality of a candidate during a debate.
On the same video, watch from 7:26 to 9:24. Does style trump substance?
The next set of clips to watch is here: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/debatingourdestiny/1992.html
Watch until 3:40 to get some context for the debate. Then watch from 5:40 to 8:20.
This was the first town hall format for a debate. The debate we will be watching on Oct. 7 is in a town hall format. Especially pay attention to how the town hall was orchestrated from Bush’s perspective at the end of this clip.
Now, take a look at the issue of third party candidates. We’ll have a question about third party candidates at our Rate the Debate event. You can jump to 10:30 on the same video you’ve been watching. Watch until 22:11.
The clip is about the vice presidential candidates in the 1992 election: Dan Quayle (running with George H.W. Bush), Al Gore (running with Bill Clinton), and third party candidate James Stockdale (running with Ross Perot).
According to the Commission on Presidential Debates,”The CPD’s third criterion requires that the candidate have a level of support of at least 15% (fifteen percent) of the national electorate as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recent publicly-reported results at the time of the determination.”
Because Perot met the criteria, he and his running mate were included in the debates. This last clip (10:30 to 22:11) should give you an appreciation for the challenges of running for president when you are not on a major ticket.
See what George W. Bush has to say about who wins a debate: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/debatingourdestiny/2000.html
Watch from 3:53 to 5:20. Do you agree with Bush’s statement on who wins a debate? At the end of the clip, see how nonverbals hurt Gore’s performance. Karl Rove thinks it cost him the debate; of course, Karl Rove is a Republican strategist. Remember the Kennedy-Nixon debate clip we watched? Studies have shown that overall, people listening to the radio thought Nixon had won. People watching television thought Kennedy had won. Again, does style matter more than substance? Here is something you probably don’t know about the Kennedy-Nixon debate: Afterwards, a Kennedy supporter dressed up like a Nixon fan (wearing Nixon buttons) and said to Nixon after the debate, “You’ll win next time.”
By the way, I’d like you to memorize who Jim Lehrer is by his picture. He is a reporter from PBS, and he has moderated many debates. He has been the moderator and interviewer in most of the debates you just watched.
Once you finish watching the clips above, I invite you to head over to our class Facebook group for discussion. I have posed a question in the discussion section about style versus substance. This exercise is optional and encouraged: http://www.new.facebook.com/board.php?uid=37129393331