Way back in 1960, during the very first U.S. presidential televised debates, it was said that if you listened to them on the radio, Richard Nixon won. If you watched them on TV, the winner was John Kennedy.
I’m temped to repeat that experiment for Monday night’s first of three televised debates between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. The debate airs live from Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. starting at 9 p.m.
I’m curious to listen only, to see if one or the other sounds more intelligent or persuasive or presidential. After what seems like two years of constant hype, I no longer trust actually looking at either one for fear I’ll be pulled in one direction or the other based on a carnival of visual cues.
I make that comment at the very end of a radio interview conducted earlier Monday on Hamilton’s News Talk Leader, AM900 CHML with host Scott Thompson. You can listen to the entire conversation here.
The U.S. news channels have certainly gone bananas leading up to the debates. CNN has had a countdown clock going straight through the weekend, like some doomsday marker on screen to let everybody know exactly when the meteor is expected to hit. Shots of the empty auditorium, draped in red, white and blue bunting, have been up so long it seems like just another fish tank or log fire channel.
One significant factor not discussed with Scott: Lester Holt. The NBC News anchor will moderate Monday’s show down. NBC has a history with Trump as the broadcaster of The Apprentice. That relationship soured and it will be interesting to see (or hear) if Holt — apparently a registered Republican — tilts one way or the other throughout the 90-minute debate.
The Big Four U.S. networks will carry the debate live along with CNN and Fox News. The Canadian networks, however, not keen on that whole “commercial free” thing, will only be streaming the debates so if you tune in to CTV at 9 p.m. you’ll see Lucifer –which may also be who you’ll see if you tune in to the American networks.