Much to the chagrin of the League of Women Voters — an organization of prominence that had been in existence since the 1920s — the bi-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates was established in 1987 to oversee presidential squabbling that had become a TV sensation, ever since1960’s epic debate between Richard Nixon and a young John F. Kennedy.
“We have no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public,” League President Nancy Neuman said in 1988. It was in protest of the two major parties dictating the debate formats, as former RNC and DNC officials began to run the debate commission and started calling the shots.
It was then that the League was asked to step aside, and the bi-partisan control over debate formats has been standard in every election since George H.W. Bush defeated Michael Dukakis.