On Friday, Oct. 28 the Newseum and the Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication at Franklin Pierce University hosted a panel discussion about civility in presidential election discourse. Acknowledging that it’s too late to reintroduce civility into the 2016 election, the panelists discussed the impact on future elections and political discourse in general, debating whether the mud-slinging and below-the-belt rhetoric of this campaign is becoming normalized. They also talked about the role played by the media, the public and the presidential candidates themselves in coarsening the national dialogue, and hailed a new arrival to the stage: social media. As the platforms on which some of the most influential communication about the election is taking place, these tech companies — and their Millennial devotees — must play a leading role in promoting respectful discourse in future political seasons.
The panelists included Hadas Gold, reporter at Politico, Callum Borchers, columnist at The Washington Post, Bill Miller, senior vice president at Business Roundtable, Alexander Heffner, host of the PBS show “Open Mind” and Jed Donelan, program coordinator for the New England Center for Civic Life at Franklin Pierce University. John Maynard, director of programming at the Newseum, moderated the discussion.