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Episode 124: If Lillian Brown Insisted

The 1960 US Presidential election was a very close and hard-fought one. Many presidential and election historians point to the rise of television as a medium and its role in reaching voters as an important factor in the election.

In particular, the first debate between the candidates on September 26, 1960, marked not only the first Presidential debate in US history but also the first debate to be televised. Those who watched the debate on television and those who listened on radio differed to a notable degree on their assessment of the winner. One reason was the appearance of Republican nominee Richard Nixon, who chose not to wear makeup and did not fare well with the lighting and other factors of the visual medium.

What if Nixon had chosen to wear makeup and the issue of his appearance relative his challenger had not been as notable and perhaps, by that simple act, had narrowly won the presidency in 1960?

This episode is part of a series on the impacts of the Kennedy presidency and alternatives.

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