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Are Presidential Debates Reality TV, Sunday Talk Show, Or Both?

The American Civic Rite Is Distinctive for Its Blend of Boisterous Theater and Genuine Substance

By Matthew Dallek
September 10, 2015

The first Republican presidential debate was a veritable blockbuster, with 24 million viewers tuning in last month. Its sequel next week at the Reagan Presidential Library in California may attract even more viewers curious about the large field of candidates and the possibility of a lively clash. But the more intriguing question is why were so many Americans in this age of digital communications willing to watch 10 men on a debate stage making mostly canned remarks, charges, and countercharges? …

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