Technology of Presidential Politics

Topic Description

Televised advertising for presidential campaigns offer an evocative combination of medium, rhetoric, and history. By reading the texts, technologies and arguments of political advertisements from Eisenhower to Obama, students become aware of the theater of mass-media.


White, Theodore H. "Round 2: The Television Debates." In The Making of the President 1960. New York, NY: Atheneum, 1961.

Grossman, Larry. "Reflections on Television's Role in American Presidential Politics." In The Joan Shorenstein Barone Center: Discussion Paper D-3. January, 1990.

Buy at MIT Press McLuhan, Marshall. "Television." In Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994. ISBN: 9780262631594.

Hoff, Philip. Consumer Electronics for Engineers. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 1998. ISBN: 9780521588171.

Assignments (Student Work)

Pointing Fingers 2008 [Political Advertisements] (PDF)

Campaign Ad INF 2009 (PDF)

Campaign Ad INF 2009 (NI)


Eisenhower For President, Museum of the Moving Image, video courtesy of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library.

Erlich Aaron, Lee Stan, Myers Sid, and Schwartz Tony, Peace Little Girl (Daisy) (Johnson, 1964), Museum of the Moving Image.

Foxhole Productions, Celeb (McCain, 2008), Museum of the Moving Image, video courtesy of John McCain 2008.

Morales Lymari, Cable, Internet News Sources Growing in Popularity, Gallup, Inc.

Lee M Dana, Analog Video, Television Technical Theory: Unplugged. (Web site by broadcast engineer on technical details of broadcast technology from radio to digital media.)