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Republican Senator Richard M. Nixon's Checkers Speech, Tuesday, September 23, 1952, was one of the most problematical addresses ever delivered. The televised speech, watched by 55 million people, demonstrated the power of television to mediate political communication. Nixon was accused of maintaining an $18,000 slush fund from contributors who wanted political favors. As Republicans were running up against corruption in the Truman administration, Nixon, the party's vice-presidential candidate, felt he had to give a speech to defend the fund and to clear his name.

Nixon's speech had two sections. The first part addressed questions that he framed to his benefit, such as why the fund was necessary and whether or not he feathered his own nest. The speech takes its name from Nixon's mention of ...

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