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Author: TheConversation

The example of Watergate: How “gate” became a symbolic substitution for political scandal

By Roger J. Kreuz, Associate Dean and Professor of Psychology, University of Memphis On June 17, 1972, Washington DC, police arrested five men for breaking into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. Although the administration’s press secretary, Ron Ziegler, dismissed the crime as a “third-rate burglary,” its scope would grow to consume Richard Nixon’s presidency and then bring it to an end 26 months later. As with other infamous episodes, such as the Teapot Dome scandal or the Chappaquiddick tragedy, the event would come to be known by the place where it occurred. But unlike those two precedents,...

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Myths in Journalism: Woodward and Bernstein exposed Nixon’s crimes but did not bring down a president

By W. Joseph Campbell, Professor of Communication Studies, American University School of Communication In their dogged reporting of the Watergate scandal, Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncovered the crimes that forced Richard Nixon to resign the presidency in August 1974. That version of Watergate has long dominated popular understanding of the scandal, which unfolded over 26 months beginning in June 1972. It is, however, a simplistic trope that not even Watergate-era principals at the Post embraced. For example, the newspaper’s publisher during Watergate, Katharine Graham, pointedly rejected that interpretation during a program 25 years ago at...

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Period Poverty: How the shortage of tampons is exacerbating the plight of low-income women

By Marni Sommer, Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University Tampons have become the latest household product to fall foul of supply chain issues. Reports of a scarcity of the menstrual product, used by millions of women in the U.S., have combined with general inflationary pressure on the price of goods to create cost and access barriers. Marni Sommer, an expert on public health and menstruation at Columbia University, was asked about what was causing the current shortage and how it has affected the plight of low-income women and adolescent girls who may already face barriers to sufficient, high-quality...

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Markets work, governments don’t: Why neoliberalism is a deeply flawed and contradictory ideology

By Anthony Kammas, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Southern California Neoliberalism is a complex concept that many people use, and overuse, in different and often conflicting ways. So, what is it, really? When discussing neoliberalism with my students at the University of Southern California, I explain the phenomenon’s origins in political thought, its ambitious claims of promoting liberty and its problematic global track record. Markets work, governments don’t Neoliberalism contends that markets allocate scarce resources, promote efficient growth and secure individual liberty better than governments. According to the progressive journalist Robert Kuttner, the “basic argument of neoliberalism...

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Poisonous Opinions: The lasting social influence of political crowdfunding campaigns

By Sanorita Dey, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, University of Maryland, Baltimore County The success of politicians in the U.S. largely depends on the amount of funding they receive from various sources. Although political action committees contribute considerably to elections, a recent survey showed that grassroots contributions, gifts under US$200, are equally crucial and contribute a sizable amount. Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign raised 69% of its funding from small donors. Traditionally, volunteers went door to door to solicit donations from individuals. Today, politicians use social media to encourage their supporters to donate and eventually vote...

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Guns as a symbol of Whiteness: How GOP ads use militant identity politics to promote culture wars

By Ryan Neville-Shepard, Associate Professor of Communication, University of Arkansas; and Casey Ryan Kelly, Professor of Communication Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Republican Eric Greitens, a candidate for Missouri’s open U.S. Senate seat, shocked viewers with a new online political ad in June 2022 that encouraged his supporters to go “RINO hunting.” Appearing with a shotgun and a smirk, Greitens leads the hunt for RINOs, shorthand for the derisive “Republicans In Name Only.” Along with armed soldiers, Greitens is storming a house under the cover of a smoke grenade. “Join the MAGA crew,” Greitens says in the...

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