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On September 26, 1960, much of the American public welcomed into their living rooms the presence of two men hoping to be president. One of the men, less well known than the other, appeared tan and relaxed and spoke to them directly and with confidence. The other man, the vice-president of the United States, appeared tired and pale.

The two men debated for an hour, but by all accounts, image prevailed over substance. Approximately 115 million television viewers tuned in that September evening, and in the words of historian Theodore White, "American politics has never been the same since."

"The Great Debate and Beyond: The History of Televised Presidential Debates," is an interactive, multimedia celebration of 40 years of television and politics produced by the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago and sponsored by

As you explore this web site, you will find:

  • Video clips from each of the presidential debates since 1960

  • Behind-the-scenes photographs

  • Forty years of debate-related newspaper headlines

  • Interviews with scholars in the field of history, politics, communications, and popular culture

  • Reflections by some of the people involved in the historic "Great Debate" of 1960

  • Essays covering topics on the 1960 "Great Debates," politics and television, and history

  • Information on the television ratings of each debate, voter turnout, and polling

  • Educational resources, curriculum guides, and lesson plans for teachers and parents

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