Webinar #5: Political Humor, Caricature, and Saturday Night Live

If you missed our webinar on June 12 with political humor expert Christopher Gilbert of Assumption University, it's available here on YouTube. In this webinar, Jennifer Keohane hosted a conversation with Gilbert about the power of political humor, its role in democratic politics, and of course, Alec Baldwin's portrayal of Donald Trump on Saturday Night …

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May 1, 2020 Webinar Posted on YouTube

As the mastermind behind the 1950s Communist witch hunt, US Senator Joseph McCarthy was one of the most notorious political figures of his time. His credibility received a severe blow when TV journalist Joseph Murrow issued a highly critical report about him in his show See It Now, hailed by many commenters as “television’s finest …

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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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Can Civil Debate Save Us?

As a former competitive debater and current professor of argumentation theories, I get a lot of questions about what civil debate entails. Moreover, as a scholar of character assassination, I continually confront people who say things like “well if we all just practiced civil debate, our country [government/university] would run smoothly.” One of the things …

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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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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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Selfish Teachers

By: Jennifer Keohane Can you undertake a character assassination campaign against a profession? We at CARP Lab have had rousing debates about whether groups of people can be targets of character assassination. After all, we tend to think of character as traits stemming from individuals. Things like honesty and humility are individual characteristics. Of course, …

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How is Character Communicated?

By Jennifer Keohane In this post, I introduce a rhetorical approach to character. This understanding may not square with other academic disciplines that may be interested in other aspects, but I hope this explanation will help explain my approach to studying character assassination. I start from the assumption that character assassination occurs in communication. That …

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