September 12, 1960
DEBATES TO BE DISCUSSIONS
misnomer shed as Nixon-Kennedy series veers to panel
so-called "Great Debates" between Sen. Kennedy and Vice
President Nixon lost that designation last week. Representatives
of the candidates and the networks, meeting in Washington Thursday
(Sept. 8), agreed that the title was a misnomer to begin with, and
that the joint appearances would go on the air without benefit of
fact, the candidates' appearances on the four-network TV-radio simulcasts
will not be considered programs at all, but rather "interruptions
of programming" for a discussion of the issues. The agreement
apparently was motivated by the feeling that a debate must produce
a winner, something these appearances are not designed-officially-
to do, and also that they will not take classic debate form.
of the physical details also appeared to be agreed upon. CBS will
originate the first debate (Sept. 26), NBC the second (Oct. 7 or
8 exact date up to the networks) and ABC the third (Oct. 13) and
fourth (Oct. 21). Each network will furnish its own moderator.
. The form they will take, at least for the first appearance,
was worked out last week. This is how it will go:
first broadcast will originate from Chicago Sept. 26 (9:30-10:30
p.m., New York time). CBS will handle this first program (or non-program),
with Don Hewitt, producer of the Douglas Edwards newscasts, in charge
for the network. Mr. Hewitt handled the network side last week in
meeting with J. Leonard Reinsch, Guild, Bascom & Bonfigli and
Executive Producer Bill Wilson, representing Sen. Kennedy, and Ted
Rogers, representing Vice President Nixon.
party and network representatives are scheduled to meet again this
Thursday in Chicago to settle further details of the Kennedy-Nixon
Sept. 26 program will be staged in the studios of WBBM-TV the CBS
owned station in Chicago. Appearing on the air will be the two candidates,
a moderator selected by CBS (probably news commentator Howard K.
Smith), and four newsmen, one each from the four radio and TV networks
whose facilities will carry the joint appearance.
Corners . Messrs. Kennedy and Nixon will be at separate
lecterns, with the moderator between them. The four newsmen, with
their backs to the cameras, will face the candidates. Their faces
will be seen only at the start of the program when they turn around
to acknowledge their introductions. When they ask questions in the
latter part of the program they are to represent "the front
row of the audience-asking questions for the 100 million people
seated behind them at home."
in the studio, aside from the necessary technicians, will be a timekeeper
(Sig Mickelson, president of CBS News) and two assistants, Mr. Reinsch
and one aide and Mr. Rogers and one aide.
candidate will have eight minutes for an opening statement, and
then the newsmen will alternate in asking questions. The answering
candidate will have 2 ½ minutes to reply, and then the other candidate
will have 1 ½ minutes to comment on that reply. And so on for the
next 34 minutes, after which each candidate will have 3 or 4 minutes
to sum up.
A clock arrangement
controlled by the timekeeper will be installed in each candidate's
lectern, but will not be seen by the home audience. "We're
not playing Beat the Clock, Mr. Hewitt commented.
will arrive at WBBM-TV one hour before air time to familiarize themselves
with the physical arrangements and to pose for photographers. Press
arrangements will be handled by the news secretaries for the respective
candidates. Newsmen will not be permitted in the studio during the
show, but may view the proceedings from another studio.
As of last week,
neither ABC or NBC had revealed its moderators but the networks
agreed that no network executive would narrate the shows.