With Good Reason radio takes a page from UMW Professor Steve Farnsworth’s latest book in its new episode, The Face of Fake News. The show, set to hit airwaves across the country on Saturday, Oct. 13, explores the misleading news that politicians throughout history – on both the left and the right – have penned, proffered and pushed out on social media.
During the broadcast, Farnsworth, who teaches political science at Mary Washington, discusses his book Presidential Communication and Character: White House News Management from Clinton and Cable to Twitter and Trump. Published by Routledge in March, it traces the evolution of White House news management through the last two decades and examines the media tactics of the first four presidents of the Internet age– Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
The first “to really appreciate the importance of what cable could do for a president was Bill Clinton,” Farnsworth told With Good Reason host, Sarah McConnell. As the 42nd POTUS took to TV, even late-night TV, “the conversation became less about policy and more about the person.”
Modes of communication have evolved faster and faster, from Fox News and FaceTime to Twitter and YouTube, Farnsworth said, making the personalities of U.S. presidents more and more relevant, and their communication strategies increasingly vital.
“Make no mistake about it,” said Farnsworth, who also directs UMW’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, “over the last 20 years, we have seen more change in media environments that presidents have to master than in the 50 years before that.”
It’s tough to be a journalist in the era of fake news, said Farnsworth, who worked 10 years himself in the field, since today’s reporters deal with administrations that often don’t share their predecessors’ sense of obligation to truth and credibility.
Farnsworth also has authored Spinner in Chief: How Presidents Sell Their Policies and Themselves, and co-authored The Global President: International Media and the U.S. Governmentand The Nightly News Nightmare: Media Coverage of U.S. Presidential Elections. Professor Farnsworth is a 2017 recipient of the Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the Commonwealth’s highest award for college teaching.
The Face of Fake News also features Elizabeth Losh and Jaime Settle from the College of William and Mary, and Siva Vaidhyanathan from the University of Virginia. The show will run on With Good Reason through Saturday, Oct. 20. Find a complete list of broadcast times or check out the audio files of the full program (available during the week it airs) online.