Author Essays, Interviews, and Excerpts, History, Politics and Current Events

Minow and LeMay on The Biz

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Newton N. Minow and Craig L. LeMay, authors of Inside the Presidential Debates: Their Improbable Past and Promising Future were interviewed recently on The Biz, the blog of TVGuide editor Stephen Battaglio. In the interview Battaglio engages the authors in a discussion of the presidential debates as “one of the biggest TV attractions of the year” and their ever increasing ability to draw record ratings for broadcast television networks: Your book points out how both Presidents Johnson and Nixon didn’t want to debate their challengers…. Now it seems that it would be impossible for a presidential candidate to avoid it.
Minow: Young people who have grown up with presidential debates expect them. I don’t think any candidate can escape it.
Lamay: Absolutely. Remember in 1992 when President George H.W. Bush [who balked at debating Bill Clinton and Ross Perot] was followed around on the campaign trail by the guy in the chicken suit? If you avoided a debate today, you’d have millions of virtual chickens [all over the Internet]. The first 2004 debate between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry set a record with 62.5 million viewers. Will a meeting between Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama or Sen. Hillary Clinton top that?
Minow: I think it will, absolutely. It will be higher and the debates will be repeated and distributed in all kinds of new ways on the Internet. Every American will have a chance to see them.

You can read the full interview on The Biz.
Also see these memorable moments from presidential debates and read an excerpt from the book.