The President and the Press

9 Ways TV Plays a Role in Modern Presidential Politics

Television has become perhaps the most effective medium for presidents to communicate directly with the American people in times of crisis, to reach prospective voters during election season, and to share with the rest of the nation the moments that bring a disparate together.

Here are some of the ways the president uses the press, particularly the medium of television.

Barack Obama Campaign Ad
President Barack Obama speaks the line "I'm Barack Obama and I approve this message ..." in a campaign ad. YouTube

Federal campaign finance rules require political candidates and special-interest groups disclose who paid for the political advertisement. The provision requires candidates to state I approve this message and is commonly referred to as "Stand By Your Ad." So where did that rule come from?  More »

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt opens the 1939 New York World's Fair. FPG/Getty Images

The first sitting president to ever appear on television was broadcast at the World's Fair of 1939. The event marked the introduction of the television set to the American public and the beginning of regular broadcasts in an era of radio. But it also was the first use of a medium that would become common in American politics over the decades. 

  More »

Republican Richard Nixon, left, and Democrat John F. Kennedy
Republican Richard Nixon, left, and Democrat John F. Kennedy took part in the first televised presidential debate, which was held during the 1960 presidential race. MPI/Getty Images

Image is everything, as Vice President Richard M. Nixon found out on Sept. 26, 1960. His pail, sickly and sweaty appearance helped to seal his demise in the presidential election against U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy that year.  More »

Jim Lehrer of PBS
Jim Lehrer of PBS has moderated more presidential debates than anyone else in modern history, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates. He is pictured here moderating a 2008 debate between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News

Presidential debates just wouldn't be the same without Jim Lehrer, who has moderated nearly a dozen presidential debates in the last quarter century, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates. But he's not the only staple of debate season.  More »

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union
President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on January 24, 2012, in Washington, D.C. Win McNamee/Getty Images Newws

The annual State of the Union gets wall-to-wall coverage on the major networks and cable TV. But how many people actually watch the speech? Which president has gotten the highest State of the Union ratings? Which president had the smallest audience? Here's a look at television ratings for Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill ClintonMore »

Ronald Reagan
Former President Ronald Reagan was a devout following of the 11th commandment of Republican Party politics. Ronald Reagan Library, courtesy of the National Archives

Comedians, movie stars, talk-show hosts and other celebrities have been known to try their hands at politics. Some have succeeded. Many have failed and embarrassed themselves. Here's a list of some of the politicians in American history who were household names, thanks to television, by the time they decided to run for office.  More »

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Murse, Tom. "The President and the Press." ThoughtCo, Jan. 31, 2018, Murse, Tom. (2018, January 31). The President and the Press. Retrieved from Murse, Tom. "The President and the Press." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 25, 2018).