Media and Political Campaigns in the Age of Trump: How We Got Here

Led by Sarah Isgur Flores – Tuesdays at 4:15 PM in FDR

September 20

Campaigns versus Reporters

This study group will discuss how presidential campaigns use the media to reach voters and look at the effectiveness of each candidates' strategies. What is the role of a presidential communications team and how do they build a strategy? Which campaign's theory of the media's role in politics is right--Trump's more is more or Hillary's adversarial approach? What did we learn from the primaries and how will it affect 2020?


September 27

Debating the Debates

Last night was potentially the most important presidential debate since Kennedy v Nixon and probably the last chance for each candidate fundamentally to change how the electorate sees them. How do networks put together a debate? What are the incentives to create different criteria or add different hosts? How do candidates and moderators think about their goals and prepare for a debate? Which candidate won?

Guest Speaker:
Robin Sproul – Vice President, ABC News


October 4

The SNL Narrative

Politicians can live or die by their media narrative—whether it’s Sarah Palin’s “I can see Russian from my house” or Chris Christie’s “hostage press conference” standing behind Donald Trump. How do narratives form? Who has the most influence over what sticks? How do narratives affect the internal decisions of a campaign? How much do reporters buy into the narrative?


October 11

The Role of the Party

The majority of Republicans voted for someone other than Trump and yet the RNC is taking on a bigger role in this presidential cycle than ever before. From the debates to the convention to the ground game, what is the role of the party? How does the party allocate resources?

Guest Speaker:
Katie Walsh – Chief of Staff, Republican National Committee, 2016


October 18

Never Trump and the 3rd Party Candidates

A record number of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of both major party candidates with over half finding neither trustworthy. What are the goals of a 3rd party candidate either in the media or on the ballot? Given how few people like partisan politics, why do they rarely catch on? With nearly identical negative poll numbers, why wasn't there a #NeverHillary movement and what does that say about the parties?


October 25

Life as a Pundit

Television and print media are filled with people eager to share their opinions, but like all reality TV its not as spontaneous as it looks. How do people with political opinions become pundits? How do television producers shape the news and establish common wisdom through pundits? What are some top tips for talking to reporters and being on TV?


November 1

The Other Media—Earned Media, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and Google

In 2016, 37 percent of 18-26 year olds are getting their political news from social media and only 8 percent are reading a daily newspaper. If traditional media is no longer the gate keeper, how do campaigns reach voters? In a campaign where the candidate who controlled entire new cycles from his twitter account beat the guy who spent $82 million on tv ads, are any ads effective? Is the shortened content model of social media crystalizing positions or ending nuance in politics?


November 15

Post-Election Analysis and Looking Ahead to 2020

The 2016 election was known for breaking all the rules of campaigns up to this point. How did it end? What were we most wrong about and why? What worked? What didn’t? What predictions can we make about four years from now?