Character Assassination in the 2020 Presidential Race: A New Low?

By Andrew Douglas The race for the White House between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden gets uglier by the day. Join the Washington Examiner and CARP Lab for the 3rd and final webinar on character assassination and the 2020 presidential race. Hear from leading academics and journalists about how the topsy-turvy Trump-Biden …

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Webinar #6: Fallen Idols: Toppling Statues throughout the Ages

Across the world, statues of historical figures have recently become the focus of fierce discussion. However, this is hardly a new phenomenon. From Egyptian pharaohs to American presidents, monuments celebrating the high and mighty have always been contested, defaced and removed. In a webinar hosted by CARP Lab, historian Martijn Icks and political psychologist Eric …

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Impeachment Hearings, Credibility, and Character Assassination

By: Jennifer Keohane Character assassination infuses the impeachment inquiry unfolding in Washington, DC, the past few weeks. While there are any number of examples to investigate, I’ll call attention to one figure: Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman, a Ukraine expert for the U.S. Army. Lt. Col. Vindman has now testified twice before hearings convened to …

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Traitors to Turkey

By Martijn Icks Ethnic minorities are particularly vulnerable to character attacks. Last March, Dutch parliament passed a motion urging the political party DENK to stop publishing intimidating video clips about MPs with Turkish roots. Signatories expressed their concern that MPs were attacked “primarily on the basis of their descent” rather than because of their political …

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Character Assassination in the Court of Law

Or: Why Don’t More Character Assassins get Sued? One of the things that our extensive research into character assassination has uncovered is the staying power of this communication strategy through the ages. As Martijn Icks’s work demonstrates, character attacks can be traced back to our democratic forefathers in ancient Athens. We’ve also seen character assassination …

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The Growing Character Assassination of Ralph Northam

by Rod Carveth OK, a couple of items to start with. First, should I ever lose my mind and run for elective office, here’s some “oppo” research that I am just handing to you. My mother, who was not what you would call racially sensitive, taught me the following nursery rhyme when I was about …

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“I Just Don’t Like Her”

Or: We Can dance if we want to. I’ve written before about the double-bind facing female political candidates, which is well-established in the rhetorical and political science scholarship. In the United States, leaders are expected to be decisive, rational, and independent, traits stereotypically associated with men. When women would-be leaders enact these traits, they are …

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Assassinating Survivors of Sexual Assault

By: Jennifer Keohane A rancorous, partisan battle over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court has rocked Washington, DC this week. Kavanaugh is defending himself against accusations of sexual assault, brought by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who argues that he assaulted her while they were students in high school. A charge of sexual assault is …

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Remembering John McCain

The passing of long-serving senator and two-time presidential candidate John McCain on August 25, 2018, spurred discussion in Washington this week. It also illustrates active attempts to shape a legacy and defend it from character assassination. Politicians and pundits use verbal and visual rhetorical strategies to create meaning from McCain’s long career The news media …

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CARP 2019 Conference “Character Assassination and Populism”

Fairfax, VA – George Mason University’s Character Assassination and Reputation Politics (CARP) Research Lab hosts its second international conference “Character Assassination and Populism: Challenges and Responses” on March 15-17, 2019. One primary characteristic of today’s global society is the growing public distrust in traditional authorities. In the context of institutional legitimacy crisis, there is a great demand for …

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