Constitution Day brings Fake News Lecture, patriotic snow cones

Political Science Association creates multi-department panel

By Christian Hunick
On September 28, 2018

Photo by Axel Marcenaro: Students line up for a free red, white and blue snow cone in the University Center. Handed out, along with the cold treats, was an informational pamphlet and flyer for the constitutional panel.

The Political Science Association engaged students and faculty on Constitution Day with a panel discussing constitutional and political challenges in the internet age, fake news and how social media is changing politics.

Deanna Watts analyzed freedom of speech from a legal perspective. Watts explained that the current definition of unlawful speech is inciting someone to imminent lawless action, meaning that most speech is protected by the first amendment.

Anthony Bartl freedom of speech and the duties that come along with it.

"One must be both able to think and willing to give one’s time and effort in order to seriously engage with the great public affairs of the day," Bartl said.

Bartl argued that television and social media make people mentally lazy and undermine their motivation to think.

A government by the people, Bartl said, cannot be sustained if its citizens cannot think critically about complex issues.

Brenda Norton discussed the different definitions of the term "fake news." Three categories of fake news she described were satire, news that is purposely false with the intent of deceiving people or confirming preexisting notions and an insult used to discredit news one disagrees with. Norton also mentioned how Americans’ trust in the media has fallen over time.

"In 1976, 72 percent of the public polled had a trust in the press. In 2016, that was down to 32 percent," Norton said.

Kenneth Heinemen explained that the state of current-day politics and news media may seem to point to a devolution of the two systems, but they have actually been filled with scandals through all of American history.

For example, Andrew Jackson married his wife before her previous marriage had ended, and the media relentlessly dug into the matter.

"They hounded her at every campaign stop, and she died before her husband could take the White House," Heinemen said. "Jackson spent the next eight years of his presidency convinced that the Whig party journalists had killed his wife."

Jeffrey Boone spoke about how the drive to make a profit affects how the media operates.

Political Science Association President Carson Jones, who helped advertise and organize the event, said she learned new things from the lecture.

"A lot of the historical overview on the media was new to me," Jones said. "I’m a political science major and we don’t get a lot of historical perspective."

Bruce Hunt, Manny Campos and Matthew Gritter moderated the event.

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