“At stake was Nixon’s place as General Dwight Eisenhower’s running-mate on the Republican national ticket. The audience was the largest ever assembled.
“Viewed through the prism of Nixon’s roller-coaster career, the speech resonates today largely because of a single passage: the mention of Nixon’s family dog, Checkers. Yet, a 1999 poll of leading communication scholars ranked the address as the sixth most important American speech of the 20th century — close behind the soaring addresses of Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
“The ‘Checkers’ speech wins this high rank for one stand-out reason: It marked the beginning of the television age in American politics. It also salvaged Nixon’s career, plucking a last-second success from the jaws of abject humiliation, and profoundly shaped Nixon’s personal and professional outlook, convincing him that television was a way to do an end-run around the press and the political ‘establishment.’”
The rest of the article is here.
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