Presidential debates are just around the corner… and this round is receiving more scrutiny than ever. Trump/Clinton features two candidates who are widely distrusted by an electorate that is more than anxious to watch them square off on stage. Debates since 1960 have not been debates at all- but, rather mutual hour long press conferences with little, if any discourse.
The idealized debate of 1960 changed the format forever… Too much attention is given the first TV broadcast, while we ignore what Kennedy and Nixon actually changed. Both men requested that media “moderators” pose questions- and that responses be limited by the restraints of television broadcasting. Neither candidate was expected to defend their positions or “think on their feet.” Responses were prepared, practiced, and sanitized- the modern debate was born, at the same time the traditional format was cast aside.
The only interaction between candidates now are… memorable quips- sound bytes that make us chuckle around the water cooler, but fail to make us think. So little is actually debated, it is obvious that voters have already made their decisions- we are just enjoying the show.