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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“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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The Character of Thomas Jefferson: Then and Now [Part 2]

Today, the most notable character attacks of Thomas Jefferson derive from widely-circulated newspapers, campus protests, or national figureheads. But Jefferson’s character is also questioned in students' history texts. This has not always been so. In the mid-nineteenth century, instruction books devoted considerable space to Jefferson, casting him in a favorable light. Publications from 1835, 1842 …

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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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Highlights from Perspectives on Character Assassination

By Sergei Samoilenko This past Friday, Jennifer Keohane, Eric Shiraev and I participated in a panel on the topic of “Perspectives on Character Assassination at the Institute of World Politics in the historic red brick Marlatt Mansion just a few blocks from the White House. Our event was apparently “sold out” online, and we had …

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Femmes Fatales in Ancient Rome: Messalina and Agrippina

By Martijn Icks Women don’t have it easy in politics. They are held to high, often conflicting, standards by men, but perhaps by other women too. If they happen to be attractive, they run the risk of being shelved in the “bimbo” or “dumb blonde” category: all beauty, no brains. Others may be criticized for …

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Gun Control Debate Fails to Rage On

Because the National Communication Association conference is coming up later this week, pulling many of us away from classes and research, I’m not going to jump into a new topic for this month’s blog post. Instead, I want to provide more evidence for the claims that I made about a month ago in my post about hypocrisy related to gun violence.