"League of Women Voters Yanks Support of Debate: 'Manipulations' by Campaigns Blamed"

Washington Post, Oct. 4, 1988; A15; By Lloyd Grove  

Sponsors of 1976, 1980, and 1984 presidential debates, the League of Women Voters, in 1988 the League of Women Voters decided not to sponsor the second presidential debate. The LWV considered itself to be an objective third party in the negotiating of debate formats. According to the article, "the League's board of trustees voted during the weekend to pull out of the Los Angeles debate because the Bush and Dukakis camp refused to renegotiate the terms of their agreement - the result of weeks of arduous talks - with League representatives." The LWV's withdrawal opened the door for the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has sponsored the presidential debates ever since.


"Bentsen Bags a Quayle"

Washington Post, Oct. 9, 1988; By Mary McGrory  

Columnists McGrory described the memorable moment in the vice-presidential debate when Lloyd Bentsen, Michael Dukakis' running mate, and Dan Quayle, George Bush's running mate. As McGrory describes the episode, after Quayle compared himself politically with John F. Kennedy, "Bentsen rounded on him, drew and fired-right between the eyes. 'Senator,' he began in quiet, deadly tones, 'I knew Jack Kennedy. I served with him. He was my friend. Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy.'" Although vice-presidential debates usually lack the importance of presidential debates, these bit of drama boosted Bentsen and even may have helped the image of Dukakis, who in comparison was seen lacking any sort of fiery emotion.


"Dukakis: If He Only Had a Heart: His Video-Image Scorecard - Brains 10, Warmth 0

Washington Post, Oct. 9, 1988; D01; By Lloyd Grove  

This article addresses Dukakis' supposed image problem. Dukakis, a first generation ethnic American whose parents were from Greece, was very stiff in is non-verbal communication. This contributed to the perception that Dukakis lacked warmth and emotion. Although Dukakis was considered quite verbally fluent Lloyd wrote, "But the Dukakis repertoire of nonverbal behavior, the medium through which primates telegraph their emotions and signal their attitudes of dominance of submission, is better suited for poker-playing than inspiring a nation." Interestingly enough, according to a poll cited in the article, Dukakis came across to the viewers as more substantive and honest, yet, the viewers thought that Bush appeared to be the "more presidential" of the two candidates.


"Thursday Debate Reactions in Real Time"

Washington Post, Oct. 12, 1988; By Marlene Schwartz and Lloyd Grove  

This brief article describes the "Tell-Back" system, a device that enabled viewers of the 1988 debates to immediately respond to the candidates as they debated one another. A bar on the bottom of the screen represented "the average audience response that will slide back and forth between Bush and Dukakis at the bottom of home screens."


"Debate Questioners Three Women"

Washington Post, Oct. 12, 1988; A14; By Marlene Schwartz and Lloyd Grove  

This panel for the second presidential debate between Bush and Dukakis featured all women. There were Ann Compton of ABC News, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, and Margaret Warner of Newsweek. The moderator was Bernard Shaw of CNN. Dan Rather of CBS News declined to participate.


"CNN's Blunt Edge: Anchor Bernard Shaw, Asking Tough Questions and Pushing His Network Ahead"

Washington Post, Oct. 25, 1988; C01; By Tom Shales  

This profile of CNN anchorman Bernard Shaw seems to have come about as a consequence of Shaw's stint as moderator for the second presidential debate between George H. Bush and Michael Dukakis. Shaw asked this question of Dukakis, an opponent of the death penalty: Would he [Dukakis] change his mind if it were his own wife [Kitty Dukaki] who was "raped and murdered." Of George Bush, Shaw asked if he would have confidence in his vice presidential pick Dan Quayle if he were to die before the inauguration. Tough questioning became more and more commonplace in the 1980's and 1990's. Bill Clinton answered questions about what kind of underwear he wore. It would be hard to imagine a similar question being asked of John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, or even Ronald Reagan. Shaw defended his questions by telling Shales, "Many voters perceive seeing and hearing Dukakis but not feeling him. I asked that question to see if there was feeling."


"The Uselessness of Debates"

Washington Post, Sept. 11, 1988; C07; By George F. Will  

Columnist George F. Will sounded off on the benefit of presidential debates, noting that debates are "Tossed salads of brevity," more "parallel press conferences" rather than debates, and "primarily the regurgitation of market-tested paragraphs."