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Campus event honoring Constitution Day focuses on media’s role in elections
By Gail Fagan, Public Affairs Representative
381-2741
Posted: 09/19/2008
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More than 125 students, faculty and staff members at The University of Texas-Pan American commemorated national Constitution Day, officially on Sept. 17, by attending “The Great Election Debate: How the Media Can Sway Votes and Win Elections” held Sept. 15 in the UTPA Student Union Theater.

Moderated by Dr. Jerry Polinard, UTPA professor of political science, the debate featured two of the country’s leading media critics – one on the left, one on the right – who offered a lively, cutting-edge debate on the media’s crucial role in the 2008 presidential campaign.


UTPA Image
Participating in the Great Election Debate event at UTPA Sept. 15 were Cliff Kincaid (left), editor for the Accuracy in Media Report, and Peter Hart (right), director for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, The debate was moderated by Dr. Jerry Polinard (center), UTPA professor of political science.
Representing the left was Peter Hart, activism director at FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), who also writes for FAIR’s magazine “Extra.” He also co-hosts and produces FAIR’s syndicated radio show “CounterSpin.” Hart is the author of “The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly.” In addition, he has been interviewed on NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel’s O’Reilly Factor, Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press and has appeared on Showtime and in the movie “Outfoxed.”

Representing the right was Cliff Kincaid, staff member of Accuracy in Media (AIM), a conservative media watchdog organization, and editor of the “AIM Report.” Kincaid was highlighted in an NBC Nightly News report by reporter Campbell Brown as a national conservative spokesman on the subject of liberal bias in public broadcasting. He has co-hosted CNN’s Crossfire, worked for Oliver North, and appeared frequently on national TV with recent appearances on PBS, CNN and Fox News. His forthcoming book, “The Death of Talk Radio?” centers on the likely return of the Fairness Doctrine under a Democratic president.

Rebecca Gadson, assistant dean of students and director of Student Involvement, said the sponsors of the event felt this topic would be a great way to encourage students to become more civically engaged and think more critically about the information they receive.

“Students in attendance asked well thought out questions, many of which concerned the impact of technology on the flow of information. In particular, students mentioned the impact of the blogosphere and online radio talk shows as having a great impact on attitudes and perceptions,” Gadson said.

Event sponsors included the Office of Student Development, Student Union, Student Life and Transition Services, University Program Board and the Student Leadership Academy.