ERIC Number: ED284223
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Aug
Reference Count: 0
TV and the 1956 Presidential Campaign: Insights into the Evolution of Political Television.
Allen, Craig M.
Contrary to the prevailing view that 1952 was the year of the first nationally televised political conventions, only 32 states had TV stations at that time; nor did the term "TV candidate" originate in the Kennedy (1960) or Nixon (1968) campaigns. In fact, it is Dwight Eisenhower and the campaign of 1956 that deserve this recognition. Contemporary journals, memoirs, and live interviews with members of each party's presidential campaign show that Eisenhower's 1956 election committee was the first to make television the primary component in a presidential campaign, substituting live TV appeals for campaign travel because of the president's ill health. The Republican convention innovated technology and production styles such as on-the-floor interviews, split screens, on-screen vote totals, and teleprompters. Abandoning the traditional whistle stop strategy in favor of select airplane appearances in politically crucial locales, Eisenhower relied on television to achieve blanket exposure. In contrast to the Republicans, Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic candidate, viewed the medium as a necessary evil, used grass-roots campaigning, neglected television strategies, and faltered during TV appearances. Although television's effect on the election outcome cannot be assessed, post-election studies indicate that TV enhanced Eisenhower's image, particularly that of his health, while Stevenson bemoaned the impossibility of making issues during a media influenced campaign. Campaign participants in both parties used their 1956 experience with television in later elections. This and other findings suggest that the 1956 campaign had greater impact on mass media history than previously recognized. (JG)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research; Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Media Campaigns; Media History; Political Advertising; Political Communication; Political Image; Political Party Conventions; Teleprompters; Television Role
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (70th, San Antonio, TX, August 1-4, 1987).