T.H. White Seminar panelists explore political, media changes

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November 15, 2010, 9:04 am

Alex S. Jones, William Greider and Susan Milligan.

Alex S. Jones, William Greider and Susan Milligan.

November 15, 2010 — The 2010 Theodore H. White Seminar on Press and Politics took place the morning after Rachel Maddow‘s T.H. White Lecture. The seminar panelists were Mindy Finn, GOP online political consultant; Charles Gibson, former ABC News anchor and Reidy Fellow at the Shorenstein Center; William Greider, national affairs correspondent for The Nation and recipient of the 2010 Nyhan Prize; David King, Lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School; and Susan Milligan, former Boston Globe reporter and current IOP Fellow. The discussion was moderated by Alex S. Jones, director of the Shorenstein Center.

To begin the discussion, Jones asked panelists to reflect on some of the issues raised by Maddow in her T.H. White Lecture. King focused on the rise of the Tea Party, which he felt wasn’t strictly an Internet-driven phenomenon. “New media alone doesn’t do anything,” he said. “Mobilization still takes place person to person.” Greider agreed, but saw promise in the current tumult in media and politics: “We are literally in a time when Americans are re-inventing how they communicate with each other.”

David King and Charles Gibson.

David King and Charles Gibson.

While Greider’s view was optimistic to a certain extent, Milligan was less hopeful: The dysfunction in Washington is “bad for democracy,” she said, something that is “made worse by the media, which just focuses on the constant campaign.” For Gibson, the current media landscape was new, but it wasn’t eternal: “The half-life of cable news is very short,” he said, envisioning a coming world “where there are effectively an infinite number of voices.”

This article was written by Leighton Walter Kille of the Shorenstein Center and the photos taken by Martha Stewart.