How Television has Changed Politics:

Ali C. Monroe
History of Television and Politics
Television was introduced in America in 1940 and
soon after substituted the radio as the main source
of information (Noble, 211).
The television has changed the way we see politics
and politicians and this all started in the 1950s.
In the 1950s Americans were able to be more
informed and aware of politics.
The first political campaign to place ads on
television was in 1952 for Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Television in America
The television is an
important technology in
the life of most
“Watching TV was the
leisure activity that
occupied the most time
(2.8 hours per day),
accounting for about
half of leisure time, on
average, for those age
15 and over. (Bureau of
Labor Statistics)”
Politics in America
“As the age of
progresses the
Reagans will
be the rule,
not the
exception. To
be perfect for
television is all
a President
has to be
these days,”
Gore Vidal.
Political Campaigns
Political campaigns are widely broadcasted in America.
The culture of watching debates and getting information
instantly through television has not always been around.
The politics of running for any position of office in the
United States has changed drastically throughout the
Television has changed the way we see candidates as
well as how candidates run for office, from the haircuts
they have to the clothes they wear Americans can watch
how politicians appear on a day-to-day basis.
Good Looking Presidents since the Advent of Television
“I was reminded today of the commonly held belief
that since the advent of mass media – good looks is
a critical advantage in winning the Presidency of
the United States (Harding, 3).”
Kennedy is a perfect example of this; in shaping his
legend, Kennedy’s personal charm helped. A witty
and articulate speaker, he seemed built for the age
of television. To watch him on film today is to be
struck by the power of his presence and the wit and
elegance of his oratory.
Politics According to Television
With consultants and
more viewers, politicians
are able to seem likeable
and familiar to the
American people.
From outfits to new
haircuts, the American
people expect their
candidates to look their
best at every
Advertisements capture
these ideas best.
Looking like the Perfect Candidate
Millions of dollars are spent every year, from both
parties, on makeup, ads, outfits, etc.
Not only is it the physical things, such as outfits and haircuts, it is
additionally the price of a consultant to tell the candidates
what they should wear, look like, and say.
“Politicians often wear makeup for photo and video
shoots. Federal campaigns, on at least 26 different
occasions since 2002, reported paying for haircuts and
other primping -- services totaling $7,443, according to
an analysis by The Politico of Federal Election
Commission data. (Vogel, 1)”
Politics and Primping
In the last presidential election,
“Romney spokesman Kevin
Madden confirmed that the
payments — actually two
separate $150 charges — were
for makeup, though he said the
former Massachusetts governor
had only one session with Hidden
Beauty of West Hills, Calif.
(Vogel, 1)”
This costly spending on looks and
appearance does not stop at just
makeup, it additionally includes
haircuts, “And Democratic
presidential candidate John
Edwards refunded $800 his
campaign shelled out for two
haircuts after he was criticized
for them. (Vogel, 1)”
Women in Politics as shown on TV
Whether discussing what the first
lady wore to a dinner or how a
female running mate dressed,
women are many times critiqued
on what they wear, how their hair
looks, etc; women additionally
spend costly amounts of money
during campaigns.
Sarah Palin, who was torn to
shreds in comedy sketches (such as
SNL) about her ‘costly’ looks “Since
her selection as John McCain's
running mate, the Republican
National Committee spent more
than $150,000 on clothing and
make-up for Gov. Sarah Palin.”
“Apparently, a
democracy is a
place where
elections are
held at great
cost without
issues and with
-Gore Vidal.
In conclusion, the television has not only changed the
common, everyday American culture, but has
additionally changed the way we view our political
It is amazing that in less than a century, the television
has transformed the way we not only view
candidates, but view politics on a much broader
From how we not only see candidates, receive
political name recognition, to even understanding
ideas about issues in the political world, the
television has changed the way we not only spend
out pastime but how we receive information, which is
why it is such a powerful tool to the American
political system.
Works Cited
Bazerman, Charles. “The Production of Technology and the Production of Human Meaning.” New York.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (United States Department of Labor) American Time Use Survey Summary.
Cohn, Nate (September 12, 2012). "Exploding the Reagan 1980 Comeback Myth". The New Republic.
Retrieved October 3, 2012.
Cowan, Ruth Schwartz. “The Industrial Revolution in the Home.” New York. Print.
Green, John . Demand Media. Synonym. “How Did Television Change the Politics of the 1950s?”
Harding, Lari. Huffington Post. “Palin Clothes spending has Democrats Salivating, Republicans Disgusted.”
Howard, Suzanne. Washington Post. “Mad Money: TV ads in the 2012 Presidential Campaign.” 2012.
Noble, David F. “The Religion of Technology: The Divinity of Man and the Spirit of Invention.” Penguin
Book, New York. 1999. Print.
Stanford University. Political Communication Lab. “Going Negative”
Vogel, Kenneth P. “Romney spent $300 on makeup ‘consulting.’ Politico. July 07.

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