Older Americans know the names Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings. They were the most famous news anchormen of the historically dominant television news broadcasters ABC, CBS and NBC. For generations they informed the American people at six o’clock in the evenings about national and world events.
Sunday morning political talkshows are also linked to household names such as Tim Russert, George Stephanopoulos, Bob Schieffer. In style and tone these news shows were tailored to those respective individuals. It was, and still is, a question of branding, with the networks seeking to establish an almost personal relationship between news moderator and the audience, with the hope that viewers would trust the moderator with supplying them with critical news in precise, objective and investigative way.
And it’s no different in American politics, where it is often less about substance and more about personality, character and values, such as marriage, family, love of country and faith. Question marks in those areas mean questionable credibility. Americans first size up the candidate as a person, then they consider his or her politics.