September 23, 1952 -- Richard Nixon's "Checkers" Speech
Oddly, it was Richard Nixon who discovered the political power of the new medium. Richard Nixon, who was pilloried by the press throughout his career, nonetheless discovered the salvific influence of television. Imaginatively, aggressively, Mr. Nixon used television in a way it had never been used before to lay out his personal finances and his cultural virtues and, hence, to save his place on the Republican national team (and, ultimately, his place in the American political pantheon). That same year, 1952, also witnessed the first televised coverage of a national party convention and the first TV advertisements. But it was Nixon's famous speech that turned the tide from a party-based to a candidate-controlled political environment. By using television as he did--personally, candidly, visually (his wife Pat sat demurely next to him during the broadcast)--Mr. Nixon single-handedly created a new political style.
- One of the "Ten Dates that tell the story of the U.S. Presidency on Television" from the Museum of Broadcast Communications
Richard Nixon's infamous "Checkers" speech, delivered to the American public on September 23, 1952: