Television and the Presidency: A FOX News Special

In 1960, John F. Kennedy faced off with his opponent, Richard Nixon in the first televised U.S. presidential debate in history.

At the time, TV was just beginning to transform the way Americans got their news and entertainment, but it had yet to take off on the political front. All that was about to change.

That night Nixon, who'd recently been hospitalized for knee surgery, looked haggard and pasty. He rejected advice from aides who said that makeup would improve his appearance and cut down on his 5 o'clock shadow. Nixon also fidgeted and was sweating -- his eyes darted around nervously.

Click here for to view a clip from "Television and the Presidency."

Those listening to the debate on radio called it a draw, but on TV Nixon was no match for the confident and tanned-looking JFK.

From that point on, TV became a powerful medium in presidential politics, and politicians soon discovered that with TV, style trumps substance.

It was something Nixon later admitted when he famously said, "More important than what you say is how you look on television."

TV later would go on to shape Kennedy's presidency and help build his legacy.

America had elected its first president who not only understood the full reach of the medium but was one of TV's great political performers.

Pierre Salinger, a journalist and former press secretary to the president recalled talking Kennedy into conducting his first presidential press conference live on TV -- something that today is simply standard.

"It was clear to me that his way of handling things on television was so adept, that he did it so well, and why not seize the opportunity of going over the heads of, in other words, the press?" said Salinger.

The TV cameras also were rolling 45 years ago this weekend, in 1963, when, on a trip to Dallas, Kennedy sat waving to cheering crowds in his motorcade. Minutes later he lay mortally wounded by a gunshot, slumped in the back seat.

Stations would rebroadcast that moment again and again, until it became frozen in time. And for the first time Americans mourned their leader in their own living rooms.

"Television and the Presidency," hosted by Chris Wallace, airs Saturday at 9 p.m. EST.