THE PRESS AND THE PRESIDENCY: The Risk to Truth Telling in the Age of Twitter & Trump.

Todd Brewster is a longtime print and television journalist who has worked for Time and ABC News. He is the co-author with the late Peter Jennings, of the #1 New York Times bestseller, The Century, on the history of the twentieth century, and, the author, more recently, of Lincoln’s Gamble: The Tumultuous Six Months That Gave America The Emancipation Proclamation and Changed the Course of the Civil War, a critically-acclaimed psychological study of our 16th president which George Stephanopoulos described as "a masterful psychological portrait."  Brewster is the director of the National Constitution Center’s “Peter Jennings Project for Journalists and the Constitution” and a Senior Lecturer in Journalism at Mount Holyoke College.

What better time to examine the ambivalent relationship between "The Press and the Presidency" than now, with the presidency of Donald Trump, whose attacks on the "mainstream media" have introduced a level of hostility never before seen in American politics? In this engaging lecture, best-selling author Todd Brewster looks at how the Fourth Estate has historically functioned as both myth-maker and critic, salesman and watchdog, promoter and truth-teller, and how, in our new digital age, exemplified by our Twitter-obsessed president, this uneasy yet longstanding bond may well be at a breaking point.

Brewster speaks to many relevant issues critical to our public conversation now…

1. At a time when traditional news media operations are in decline and low-standard self-appointed “journalism” sites have emerged to replace them, what are the implications for our current president? Will the lack of an effective check on the executive lead to corruption and the abuse of power?

2. For most of our nation’s history, both the public and president relied upon the press to convey, interpret, and critique messages of political leadership. But with Twitter, the president has his own media operation, one that communicates directly to the public without the filter of the news media. When the president no longer needs this go-between are the people more susceptible to demagoguery and propaganda?

3. Why do so many of us – particularly our young – distrust the media? Is this distrust earned?

4. What are the consequences when, as in the controversy over the safety of vaccines or the even more disturbing denials of the Sandy Hook school shooting, truth gets so distorted? In such an environment, can a president, facing obstacles to his leadership, distort the truth to the point where complete falsehoods are purveyed and allowed to proliferate?

5. Just as radio shaped the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and television shaped the presidencies of John Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, demanding that we understand the office anew, Brewster asks if we now must now achieve a new “literacy” focused on the subconscious messages communicated through the digital media of our own age.

Lincoln's Gamble

On July 12, 1862, Abraham Lincoln spoke for the first time of his intention to free the slaves. On January 1, 1863, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, doing precisely that. In between, however, was a tumultuous six months, an episode during which the sixteenth president fought bitterly with his generals, disappointed his cabinet, and sank into painful bouts of clinical depression. Todd Brewster focuses on this crucial time period to ask: was it through will or by accident, intention or coincidence, personal achievement or historical determinism that he freed the slaves?

The Century

What was it like to watch the Wright Brothers soar into the sky, hear the first crackling voice aired on radio, cower in the ghastly trenches of Europe during World War I, lose everything in the stock-market crash, or experience the birth of rock and roll?  For the past seven years, researchers, reporters, and producers for ABC News have searched the world's archives for the rarest and most stunning photographs and images, consulted eminent twentieth-century historians, and discovered and interviewed hundreds of eyewitnesses and participants in the significant moments of the most eventful one hundred years in human history.  The result is this spectacular book, co-written by ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings and Senior Editorial Producer Todd Brewster.  The Century presents history as it was lived, and as it will be remembered for the next hundred years.  Here is a keepsake volume destined to be an essential part of every family's library: an epic journey through the last hundred years, whose heroes are our grandparents, our parents, ourselves.

Todd Brewster's Lecture on Lincoln's Gamble (April 16, 2015)

The Tumultuous Six Months that Gave America the Emancipation Proclamation and Changed the Course of the Civil War

The Century editorial reviews

“ can almost imagine Jennings reciting from these pages as he hosts the ABC/History Channel documentaries to which this book is a companion piece." Review

“...will make a splendid addition to anyone's bookshelf."

Publishers Weekly

"A hefty, profusely illustrated and easy-to-read survey of the 20th century...It will add much to the growing literature of the past century brought on by the millennium, and will provide ideas for many a research paper."

Susan H. Woodcock, School Library Journal

"Bound to be a big hit. In 12 chapters, the entire century is spanned in a very readable prose style. While several similar books have appeared recently...libraries will probably want this one."

From Library Journal

"Lavishly illustrated survey of the twentieth century--coauthored by ABC News anchor and senior editor Jennings ... it should have broad appeal."

Mary Carroll, Booklist

"A particularly handsome and visually provocative work...The best available visual summary of the century."

From Kirkus Reviews

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