Carter Open Debate On Sept. 23"
Post, Sept. 2, 1976; A1; By Jules Witcover
On September 1, the League of Women Voters and representatives
from the Ford and Carter campaigns officially announced
that they would hold three televised debates before the
November election. It had been Republican President Ford
who had initiated the debate challenge earlier that summer,
and with the LWV assuming sponsorship, negotiations on
the location and format had proceeded with relative easy
(compared to the 1960 debate negotiations). Still, uncertainty
remained. The excluded third party candidates were threatening
to sue the League, and the Democratic National Committee
had asked the Supreme Court to review the FCC ruling that
exempted debates from the equal-time clause of the Communications
Act. And it would be another three weeks before all three
television networks would even agree to air the first
Joining Debate Coverage"
Post,Sept. 21; A3; By Stephen Isaacs
accompanied the first presidential debates since 1960,
and the primary controversy concerned the role of the
candidates themselves in choosing the panel of questioners
and in placing restrictions on the television format.
In fact, the television networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) protested
so strongly a prohibition on showing reaction shots from
the audience that they considered boycotting the debates
altogether. In the end, the networks did air all three
debates, but questions lingered about who should control
the debate format. Another controversy concerned third
party candidates. Former Senator Eugene McCarthy, former
Georgia Governor Lester Maddox, and Socialist candidate
Peter Camejo all protested the FCC denial of their equal-time
on Sin: Joining Bible and Blunt Talk, Candidate Outlines Beliefs"
Post, Sept. 21, 1976; A1; By Robert G. Kaiser
an interview with Playboy magazine conducted early in
his presidential campaign, Jimmy Carter frankly and graphically
discussed his beliefs about sexuality, adultery, and Christian
faith. Although his controversial comments would not cost
him the election, the interview did become an issue in
the press for much of the fall campaign. It was not until
the third debate that a question was put to Carter on
the controversy. He noted that had he to do it over, he
would chose not to conduct the interview at all.
Would Protest If Susan Had an Affair"
21, 1976; A6
Carter's comments in Playboy magazine made adultery a
campaign topic. Neither President Ford nor Jimmy Carter
was accused of committing adultery themselves, but their
views on the subject were of interest to the press. Susan
Ford, the 19-year old daughter of President and Betty
Ford, was the topic of Ford's comments featured in this
Interview Assailed, Defended"
22, 1976; A12; By Janis Johnson
on the possible political fallout from Jimmy Carter's
use of "salty" language in his interview with Playboy
Haven't Settled on A Candidate"
23, 1976; A4; Political Notebook
the supposed importance of the 1976 debates, poll information
indicated on the eve of the first that 36% percent of
voters had not decided on whom to vote for.
Wins Debate in TV Poll, 39-31;
30% Call It a Tie"
24; A1; By Haynes Johnson & Andy Wallace
commentary on the first debate characterized the first
debate as rather "dull," and below expectations. Wallace
commented on the 'instant polling' done by the Roper organization,
the results of which were announced on the air a few minutes
before the debate actually ended. An instant Roper poll
conducted after the second debate would show Jimmy Carter
the winner at 40% to Ford's 30%.
Audio Failure Brings First Debate to a Sudden Halt"
24; By Jules Witcover
intensive preparations, the first debate between Ford
and Carter was marred by technical failure. As Carter
was in mid-answer, the sound cut off, not to be resumed
for 27 minutes. Witcover noted, "It was a bizarre scene
in the [Philadelphia Walnut Street Theatre], not only
seeing the debate halted but watching the two candidates,
and particularly the President of the United States, so
completely immobilized for nearly half an hour."
Hits 'Serious Blunder' by Ford"
8, 1976; A1; By David S. Broder
policy was thought to be a strength of incumbent president
Gerald Ford; however, his remarks on Eastern Europe reinforced
the image of an out-of-touch, incompetent administration.
Carter took full advantage of Ford's "gaffe," noting,
"This claim of freedom is a cruel hoax upon millions of
Eastern Europeans who have lived under Soviet domination
for their entire lives."
Remarks Startle Europeans; Poles Among the Most Bemused"
8, 1976; A8; By Peter Osnos
media made much of the foreign policy "gaffe" President
Ford committed in his second debate with Jimmy Carter.
In his remarks, Ford stated that the Soviet Union was
not politically dominating the countries of Eastern Europe.
The media interpreted this statement as completely contrary
to the accepted view, which saw the countries of Eastern
Europe, especially Poland, as being well within the Soviet
sphere of influence.
Campaign: The Debates Are a Sham!"
22, 1976; A27; By Richard D. Heffner
everyone felt the 1976 presidential debates marked a high
point for the democratic process. Richard Heffner sharply
criticized the loosening of the equal time clause of the
Communications Act by the Federal Communications Commissions.
In Heffner's view, the FCC action circumvented the law,
and public acceptance of this action was an unhealthy
by-product of the national cynicism induced by Watergate.
Debate: Substance Over Bumbles"
23, 1976; By William Greider
first two debates between Incumbent Gerald R. Ford and
Former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter were largely thought
to be a disappointment. The third and last debate between
the two candidates was generally thought to be the most
informative for voters. The panel of journalists asked
more pointed and difficult questions, including a question
to Ford about Watergate and a question, finally, to Carter
that referenced his controversial Playboy interview. According
to Greider's commentary, Carter won the final debate through
his persistent yet measured critiques of the Ford administration's