Spring 2020

Trump and the Media

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-120


Masha Gessen (Section 01)


The current United States president is testing the American media model. Where are the media failing, and where are they succeeding? We will look at the coverage of the 2016 campaign and account for the soul-searching to which the election outcome spurred journalists. We will look at fact-checking as a genre of coverage, the problem of covering the Trumpian tweet, the difficulty of reporting from/on a White House that lies and leaks, and the growing use of anonymously sourced information. We will dig much deeper, however, to examine the foundational premises of American media: objectivity, balance and fairness, market-based competition. What do these ideas mean, and how relevant and useful are they during the Trump presidency? Finally, and most important, we will imagine what journalism might look like if we thought about it differently. The reading in this course will include both media-theory and journalistic texts.

Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Gessen.

If Overenrolled: Priority will be given to political science majors, fourth-year students, then to first-to-third-year students, then to five-college students.


Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2020