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Presidential Debates


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Table of Contents

Introduction: The First Presidential Debate Part I. Anticipation 1. The Predebate Debate 2. Predebate Strategy 3. Candidate Preparation 4. Predebate News Coverage Part II. Execution 5. The Debaters 6. The Questioners 7. The Productions Part III. Reaction 8. Social Media and Real-Time Reactions 9. Postdebate News Coverage 10. Debates and Voters Conclusion: The Globalization of an American Tradition Schedule of Televised Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates, 1960-2012 Notes Selected Bibliography Index

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Second only to the Super Bowl in viewers, presidential debates are must-see TV, yet their conception and execution largely remain a mystery to the public-even to journalists. For this third edition, Schroeder analyzes the 2008 and 2012 presidential debates and the role of social media and contemporary news outlets in shaping their design and reception. New chapters focus on real-time debate responses and the extent to which post-debate news coverage influences voter decision making and candidate behavior.

About the Author

Alan Schroeder is a professor in the School of Journalism at Northeastern University and has worked as a journalist, television producer, and diplomat. He is the author of Writing and Producing Television News: From Newsroom to Air (2009) and Celebrity-in-Chief: How Show Business Took Over the White House (2004).


Schroeder reaches beyond the political junkie and occasional academic with Presidential Debates. Packed with illustrative stories and enough intrigue to be an 'insider's' view, this book not only can be read as a history of presidential debates, but, more importantly, brings alive the dynamic and evolutionary nature of political debates. -- Allan Louden, Wake Forest University Schroeder's savvy analysis and candid, behind-the-scenes tales of candidate tension and campaign brinksmanship show why presidential debates have become television's most consequential events. -- Ted Johnson, Senior editor, Variety Throughout it all -- from questions about Richard Nixon's makeup to the size of Donald Trump's appendages, from Ronald Reagan's one-liners to Marco Rubio's same-liners -- presidential debates have helped decide primaries and elections since 1960. Alan Schroeder has compiled a comprehensive and masterful overview of these encounters. Sometimes dull, sometimes comical, always informative, they are the quadrennial Super Bowls for political junkies. We can't take our eyes off them. And nobody understands them better, or can add the precise historical perspective, than Schroeder. -- Ken Rudin

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