Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Was Esquire the originator of the first presidential debate meme?
Binders full of Big Bird: The risk & benefits of reporting on memes
Political journalists have long riffed on sound bites and candid photos to skewer candidates’ positions and personas. After the first televised debate in 1960, commentators (and lazy pollsters) pushed the narrative that John F. Kennedy’s easy screen presence gave him the edge over a gruff, stubbly Richard Nixon; eight years later, Esquire manipulated a stock photograph of Tricky Dick to show a fleet of makeup artists applying powder, lipstick, mascara, and hairspray to his head.
Simon Owens is an assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org