In the midst of a turbulent time for the relationship between the media and the U.S. president, ETSU’s Reece Museum played host to a panel discussion, “The U.S. Presidency and the Media,” on Wednesday afternoon.
The panel, which was moderated by WJHL News Anchor Josh Smith, featured four people from varying departments on ETSU, as well as ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland. The panel featured Dr. David Briley (Political Science), Dr. Daryl Carter (History), Dr. Andrew Dunn (Media and Communication) and Dr. Colin Glennon (Political Science).
The event comes in the middle of ETSU’s inaugural Festival of Ideas, which thus far featured a talk given by former White House Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, who spoke on Monday night. Tuesday’s event, Changing Perspectives of U.S. Presidents, was to be hosted by Stephanie Steinhorst Williams, the Chief of Interpretation and Education at the Andrew Jackson National Historic Site, but was cancelled due to inclement weather.
During the roughly hour long discussion, topics ranged from the evolution of the president-media relationship in U.S. history, addressing President Donald Trump’s attacks on media and discussing what they viewed as presidential behavior and where they would like to see the discussion go in the future.
“Presidential behavior is where you can look at your kid and say, ‘Emulate him,’” said Carter during the discussion.
When speaking on the president’s attack on the media, including everything from recent spats with Fox News personalities, media entities and referring to the media as the “enemy of the people,” reaction was much of the same from the panelists: It’s not helpful.
“It’s less troubling when he singles out a single entity, but what is troubling is when he paints with broad brush strokes,” said Glennon in his remarks about Trump criticizing individual reporters.
Noland also commented on hopefulness in the U.S.
“When Americans see a better future for themselves, it’s good for the country, but when they don’t – democracy is in peril,” he said.
At the conclusion of the event, President Noland discussed what he wanted to see with the Festival of Ideas – primarily the inclusion of different voices from varying backgrounds handling the divisive topic of “Presidents and Politics,” the theme for this year’s festival. However, he acknowledged at the event’s conclusion that there were no women on the panel.
“I just was struck today as we sat on this panel that this is a gendered perspective, and if there had been different voices at the table, would those voices have brought a different perspective?” President Noland said following the conclusion of the event.
Wednesday’s event was the only one scheduled that featured male speakers as Monday and Tuesday were scheduled with female speakers, and Thursday’s talk features renowned author Doris Kearns Goodwin.