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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Truth and Lies in a Polarized Time

17th annual prophetic voices lecture

capitol building at night


E.J. Dionne
Brookings Institution, The Washington Post, Georgetown University 

Date: Thursday, April 5, 2018
Time: 6:30 - 8pm
Location: Cushing Hall 001 *NOTE: new time and location*

Abstract: E.J. Dionne’s Prophetic Voices Lecture is a journalistic, political, and ethical take on the polarized landscape of the contemporary United States. As a journalist, Dionne examines these debates within the context of news media. He investigates how print, digital, and broadcast news platforms can work either to counter or perpetuate disinformation, propaganda, and falsehood during a time of “post-truth,” “fake news,” and “alternative facts.” He will discuss how recent upsurges of populism should push journalists to report on and understand the sources of discontent and the hurt that are producing such populist sentiment. He will also speak about how journalists should disentangle genuine bigotry from frustrations rooted in injustice.

As a student of government, he will explore matters of civic nationalism, exclusionary populism, liberal democracy, and ethnocultural identity politics under the Trump administration.

As a Christian, he will draw a distinction between faith as a social marker used to exclude or aggrandize a particular social group and faith as the invocation of principles advocating for human dignity, belonging, and fellowship.


E.J. Dionne is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a columnist for the Washington Post, and university professor in the Foundations of Democracy and Culture at Georgetown University. He appears weekly on National Public Radio and regularly on MSNBC. He began his career with New York Times, where he spent fourteen years reporting on state and local government, national politics, and from around the world, including stints in Paris, Rome, and Beirut. 

He is the author and editor or co-editor of several books and volumes, including Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism––From Goldwater to Trump and Beyond (Simon & Schuster, 2016). His latest book is One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet-Deported with Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein (St. Martin's Press, 2017).

Dionne has received numerous awards, including the American Political Science Association’s Carey McWilliams Award to honor a major journalistic contribution to the understanding of politics. He has also been named among the 25 most influential Washington journalists by the National Journal. Raised in Fall River, Massachusetts, Dionne graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. from Harvard University in 1973 and received his doctorate from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. 

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In 2016, the Brookings Institution organized a roundtable discussion about the role and prospects of journalism under the Trump administration. Panelists included James Glassman (George W. Bush Public Policy Institute), Shani Hilton (Buzzfeed News), and Susan Glasser (Politico). They discussed how print, digital, and broadcast news platforms can work to counter disinformation, propaganda, and falsehood through “fact-checking” and other journalistic practices. On April 5, E.J. Dionne will deliver the Boisi Center's 17th Annual Prophetic Voices Lecture on truth and lies in a polarized time.