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UT Martin professor addresses presidential debates

Americans turned their attention to their televisions last Thursday for the second and last presidential debate.

University of Tennessee at Martin associate professor of communications and co-director of the Masters' of Strategic Communications Chara Van Horn teaches Argumentation and Debate every other spring semester.

Van Horn says what her classes learn to do isn't what Americans watched on television Thursday night.

"Presidential debates are - in my humble opinion - not really debates," Van Horn says.

She believes they're a chance for candidates to address talking points. Because of that, the frustration when watching can be intense.

"As somebody who teaches debate, when I was watching [the first debate], I was just utterly appalled because debate is actually very vibrant, very cordial. I mean, you don't have to like your opponent by any stretch of the imagination, but you have to follow the rules."

Van Horn says it's also important to understand that the rules in academic debate and presidential debates are very different.

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