You can find examples of Presidents using mass media throughout history to inform and influence the public. One example was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who used his
radio Fireside Chats to calm the public's anxiety about the economy and war, promote and gain support for the New Deal, and unite people with hope and patriotism. In addition to informing people about news and his plans for the country, he
increased his personal popularity and that of his policies.
A second example of mass communication influencing the public came in 1960, during the first
televised Presidential Debates between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon. The race was close, with the older and more experienced Nixon slightly leading in the polls. The week before the debate, Nixon injured his leg and was hospitalized
with an infection. He looked pale and weak on television, whereas Kennedy was suntanned and looked strong and healthy. In addition, Kennedy focused his attention on the camera when answering questions and Nixon directed his answers off camera to reporters,
which looked like he was avoiding eye contact to the viewers at home. Kennedy won the debate, and the election. Nearly half the voters polled said that their decision was based on the debates. Since then, presenting a warm and personable image has become
almost essential for success in politics because of TV's power to influence voters.