By Taylor Clarke
Hofstra students, faculty members and attending guests filled the theater of the Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center to engage in an important conversation regarding media coverage of the White House.
The discussion “Breaking News or Making News?” held on Thursday, Oct. 19, included the issue of fake news, public trust in the media, Donald Trump’s presidency and how the role of the media in politics is changing drastically. The event took place as part of Hofstra’s Kalikow panel, which strives to inform and engage students in current political affairs.
The panel was sponsored by the Peter S. Kalikow School of Government, Public Policy and International Affairs, in conjunction with the Peter S. Kalikow Center for the Study of the American Presidency and the Hofstra Cultural Center. It focused on the tension between the current political administration and journalists. The panel discussion featured the well-recognized political figures Howard Dean, Edward Rollins and Tom DeFrank. Moderator Dr. Meena Bose is the director for the Kalikow Center.
“What people’s view of the press is, really, is a function of what they think. If you love President Trump, you’re going to think the media is out to get him. If you don’t like President Trump, you’ll think the media is doing God’s work,” said DeFrank, a contributing editor for the National Journal.
Rollins discussed Trump’s understanding and use of new media methods and the drastic change in political communication over time. “When I was in the White House, the president would put out a news release, the president would put out a press release. The press release was thought through, it was checked off, it was usually 99 percent accurate,” Rollins said. “Today Donald Trump gets up at 5:30 and puts out a tweet and 53 million people get it.”
Rollins has possessed managerial roles in 10 presidential campaigns and served in the administrations of four U.S. presidents. Rollins served at the highest level in the White House as assistant to the president for two presidencies.
Bose asked Dean to share some input with the audience about the complicated relationship between an elected official and the media.
“This is incredibly complicated because both journalism and politics is going through an enormous flux and nobody can know where it’s going to end up,” Dean explained. “The rules are changing dramatically and I think it’s because it’s a corporatization of the media,” he said. “I think the real problem is that news has become a profit center.”
Dean served as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was a U.S presidential candidate and six-term governor of Vermont. He currently serves as a senior strategic advisor and independent consultant for the government affairs practice at an international law firm.
Despite differing political views, the panelists discussed pressing issues that aspiring journalists are faced with each day in the classroom.
Bose turned the discussion over to the audience, allowing attending guests to ask the panel questions regarding the news, Trump’s presidency and the future of political media.
“At the end of the day, we’ll survive Trump. He may turn out to be a decent president. Who knows?” said Rollins, the lead strategist for Great America, a pro-Trump super PAC. “But don’t lose faith in the system. The system is an extraordinary system and it’s what many other countries around the world and new democracies try to evolve themselves.”