Jennifer Rubin discusses democracy in the era of 'fake news'

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In the wake of a change election in Virginia, Jennifer Rubin is feeling bullish on the future of the media and democracy.

Rubin visited Penn State Nov. 8 to talk about defending democratic norms and a free press in the Trump era. She was the final speaker in the McCourtney Institute for Democracy’s fall series organized around the theme of democratic dissent.

She is the author of the Washington Post’s Right Turn blog, where she writes prolifically about the impact Donald Trump and his administration are having on the Republican party and the country at large.

Rubin’s full talk is available on the McCourtney Institute's Facebook page. Here are a few highlights and insights from her remarks:

  • Fragmented media equals echo chambers and polarization. Support for mainstream media is declining, in part, because everyone has the ability to control the information they receive and does not have to be exposed to viewpoints with which they disagree.
  • If you want the full picture of what Trump’s supporters are seeing … watch a few hours of Fox News. About 35 percent of the electorate supports Trump and appears to take many of its viewpoints from Fox News. In their view, academia and other news outlets are out to get them.
  • The rest of the story is more positive. Outside of that 35 percent, support for the press and investigative reporting that holds the government accountable is thriving. Many outlets are even going as far as to say how many sources they spoke to for a story.
  • Virginia, Virginia, Virginia. The Republicans lost more state house seats in the 2017 election than any party has in 100 years, and a Democratic gubernatorial candidate surpassed expectations to win.
  • Voters are waking up. Virginia’s election showed that voters are showing up to defend democratic norms and institutions. How long that momentum continues remains to be seen.
  • Dialogue is key. Face-to-face conversations and dialogue are essential to restoring communal ties and reducing polarization.
  • The solution to bad democracy? More democracy. The ultimate test is whether people are involved enough and care enough to hold their government accountable.

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy welcomes suggestions for future speakers who can speak broadly on topics related to democracy. Submit ideas using this form.

Last Updated November 13, 2017