Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Synthesizing TV Coverage on Politics

In the 1960’s, political debates started being shown on TV. Throughout America there are many opinions on the topic. Some people believe that they are bad because it may make the presidential candidate look more like a celebrity rather than a serious political figure. I, on the other hand, believe that having the presidential process on TV is a good thing because it lets you get to know your candidate and makes it easier for everyone, in our extremely large country, to be more informed and involved in the presidential process.
According to Source C, showing political debates on TV is a bad thing because “Television had dumbed down the issues by forcing the candidates to respond to questions instantaneously” But when looking at this statement from my point of view, it seems that this would be a good thing. Any person in the world, you, I, or the homeless person on the street, can write something down. We could all come up with something that would sound great and make millions of people agree with us, but not everyone knows enough about what they believe to defend it on the drop of a hat. I want a president who knows what side he’s on, one that doesn’t have to have everything he is going to say written down ahead of time, one who is smart enough to speak for himself and has the ability to make America understand what he or she is trying to get across. Answering on the spot questions is not a bad thing. It makes the answer more genuine, so you know exactly what it is the candidate believes and not what some speechwriter wants him to say.
It says in Source B that on April 20, 1992 the candidate, Bill Clinton, appeared on a show on MTV. After being asked the question, boxers or briefs?, our former presidential candidate responded, briefs. The question is, is this a bad thing, showing that our presidential candidate was being asked questions worthy of that of a super star, or a rock singer? Or on the other hand were the young American voters just trying to get to know their candidate just a little better? Now I would be the first to say that this might have not been an appropriate question for a presidential candidate, but would answering this type of question really hurt his campaign? I personally don’t think so. By answering this question, Clinton’s audience just knew him a little better. It may seem to some that this is a step too far over some boundary, but I know I wouldn’t vote for a candidate I knew nothing about. I want to know my president and not feel like he is a total stranger. Later in the Source B article excerpt they state, “because of television’s sense of intimacy, the American people feel they know their presidents as persons and hence no longer feel the need for party guidance.” But still I would not vote for a person I didn’t feel I knew. I want some familiarity that makes my candidate more relatable and easier to understand. I don’t think that sharing personal things should really be considered a bad thing.
The main reason why I consider having the presidential debates and speeches shown on TV a good thing is because I feel that having more knowledge of my candidate makes them more relatable. As said in Source A “Television with it’s penetration, it’s wide geographic distribution and impact, provides a new, direct, and sensitive link between Washington and the people.” With the help of showing the presidential election process on TV more people are able to be involved. Young people who normally wouldn’t travel long distances to listen to a debate can now just sit at home and hear exactly what everyone else at the debate can hear. Because of this as said by Angus Campbell “Large segments of the public have been given a new, immediate contact with political events.” Now everyone wanting to hear what the candidates have to say can easily get him or herself involved. Because of television, the direct contact between candidates and a normal person has been restored.
As stated by source A, Frank Stanton, president of the Columbia broadcasting system once said, “Not even the sky is the limit”. In today’s world this is definitely true and having politics broadcasted on TV was just the beginning to many other beneficial things that will happen in America. Having presidential debates and speeches on TV has and will continue to be a great way for average citizens to get involved and learn about politics. I wonder if the people opposing the politics on TV would even know anything about their presidential candidates if it weren’t for all the political coverage around the country. It’s great that people from California to Maine can both watch the same thing on TV and gain the same opinions without having to leave the comfort of their own home.
(835 words)

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