Televised Presidential Debates and Public Policy
With this second edition, Kraus continues his examination of formal presidential debates, considering the experience of television in presidential elections, reviewing what has been learned about televised debates, and evaluating that knowledge in the context of the election process, specifically, and the political process, generally. He also examines the media and the role they occupy in presidential elections. Because critics often refer to the Lincoln-Douglas debates when reproaching presidential debates, comparisons of the two are discussed throughout the book. Much of the data and information for this accounting of televised presidential debates comes from the author's first-hand experience as one who was involved with these debates as a participant observer, on site at nearly all of the debates discussed.
Throughout these discussions, emphasis is placed on the implications for public policy. To suggest policy that will be accepted and adopted by politicians and the public is, at best, difficult. Proposals for changes in public policy based on experience -- even when scientific data support those changes -- must be subjected to an assessment of the values and predispositions of the proponent. These values and predispositions, however, may not necessarily inhibit the proponent's objectivity. As such, this review of television use in the presidential election process provides the context for examining televised debates.
Table of Contents
Contents: Dedication. Preface. Dedication (First Edition). Preface (First Edition). Introduction. Overview: Television and the Presidential Election. Debate Formats: Candidates in Charge. Debate Coverage: Who's Winning. Debate Effects: Voters Win. Debate Policy: Every Four Years by Mandate. Addendum: Participant-Observation and Retrospective Interviewing: Methods for Depicting Communication Events.
"This updated edition is a must-have item for any serious student of democratic politics. It contains several encyclopedic bodies of information, including an extensive bibliography of U.S. books, journals, and symposia. Sidney Kraus has been our most assiduous student of America's signal contribution to political theater, and it is a service to the field that he continues to update his reports on what he has learned."
—International Journal of Public Opinion Research
"This book is an important contribution to the growing literature on political debates...[It] is distinctive from others...in that it provides a historical perspective that is based on media influence as well as a thorough analysis of public policy implications from the perspectives of the public policy that is debated as well as the public policy that surrounds funding, sponsorship, broadcast, and participation in debates...Kraus' personal involvement as [a participant] observer and researcher going back to the 1960 debates adds a perspective and content that other authors simply cannot equal. His access to people at the heart of debate productions provides resource material that is unique to this book."
—Diana B. Carlin
University of Kansas
"An eminent scholar and authority on presidential debates, Professor Sidney Kraus has brought his classic book up to date. His insight and perspective focus new light on a most important part of our democratic process."
—Newton N. Minow
Board Member, Commission on Presidential Debates and Former Chairman, Federal Co