Nixon Checkers Speech

2164 WordsNov 23, 20119 Pages
Richard Nixon Checkers Speech On September 23, 1952 Richard Milhous Nixon sat down to address the largest television audience ever amassed by a politician this was no ordinary political speech. Nixon’s future in politics was on the line. In one speech Nixon had the daunting task of not only clearing his name of the allegation that he had received illegal campaign funds, but he also had to present himself as a viable asset to the Republican ticket. Nixon bared his heart to the American people, and in turn was applauded for his honesty and good character. Nixon’s speech was met with nearly unanimous acceptance and praise. But, audience acceptance alone is not what makes a speech unforgettable or worth writing…show more content…
The purpose of Nixon’s speech must also be examined in order to make a comprehensive analysis of the speech. In his autobiography Nixon described the three criteria his speech must meet in order to convey his purpose: “(1) [it must] answer the immediate attack by explaining and defending the fund, (2) ward off further allegations by showing that he did not accrue personal profit, and (3) launch a political counterattack” (176). Nixon used these guide-lining principles to steer his way in the short 48-hour period he had to compose his speech. The principal way these purposes were achieved was through the application of the three Aristotelian modes of proof: ethos, pathos and logos (Cathcart 45). The primary Aristotelian proof Nixon used to appeal to his audience was ethos, or credibility. In a sense, the purpose of the “Checkers Speech” was to reaffirm Nixon’s status as a reputable politician the public could put their faith in. Robert Cathcart more precisely defined ethos as “the image that receivers have of the communicator as an expert source with a capacity for leadership and decision making and as one who can be trusted”. Nixon’s credibility was gone as far as the American public was concerned until he cleared his name of the allegations he had used $16,000 of private funds given to him by outside donors. In order to prove his credibility Nixon decided to

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