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National Agenda 2020

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Logo for University of Delaware's National Agenda 2020 program, "We Are the People," hosted by the Center for Political Communication.

We Are the People

The 2020 edition of the University of Delaware's National Agenda program called attention to the power of us—the citizens of the United States—as well as the liberties granted to Americans by the Constitution. Even in this tumultuous time, the right to vote in elections remains one of the most important acts we can perform as Americans. 

Presidential election years are always uncertain, let alone one during a pandemic and social unrest. This fall, the tenth annual National Agenda speaker series tackled such questions as: How will we vote on November 3? How will exit polls be conducted, or will they? How long until we will know the results of the election?  The program welcomed insight from prominent political insiders, journalists, humorists, and media figures. In light of COVID-19 restrictions, National Agenda 2020 was presented as a free series of webinars on Zoom, open to the public. 

To learn more about the National Agenda student experience, read "Keeping the Conversation Going" by CPC intern and National Agenda student Sean O'Connor.

Lindsay Hoffman, Ph.D., associate professor of communication and political science, directs the annual National Agenda speaker series and teaches the accompanying class. To learn more about National Agenda, please visit our YouTube playlistNational Agenda podcast, and the National Agenda events archive at National Agenda is made possible by generous support from the University of Delaware's Office of the Provost and College of Arts and Sciences.

September 16―Satire or Fake News?

Thirty years of the First Humor Website, The Onion

Watch a video of the complete program. Read the news story. Read the transcript.

The University of Delaware welcomed humorist Scott Dikkers to a live Zoom event on September 16. He compared satire and fake news as the first guest speaker of the “We Are the People” series. The cofounder of the satirical news site the Onion addressed almost 600 viewers from nineteen states and four countries including National Agenda students, alumni, and the UD community. Dikkers also discussed how to succeed in comedy and how politics intertwines with humor. 

As the longest-serving editor-in-chief of The Onion, Dikkers created the original “fake news” platform and grew it into one of today’s most recognized comedy brands. As a child, Dikkers found solace and inspiration from Mad, the groundbreaking satirical magazine, which fed his passion for comedy and later helped inspire him to create The Onion. His 2018 book, Outrageous Marketing, Dikkers detailed how The Onion broke through the noise in a media-saturated landscape and overcame doubters and legal obstacles. 

September 30―Fact vs. Fiction

Presidents in Hollywood

Read the news story. Watch a video of the complete program. Read the transcript.

On September 30, the University of Delaware welcomed political minds from Washington D.C. to Hollywood to examine portrayals of the White House and the real thing for the National Agenda 2020 series, "We Are the People," hosted by the Center for Political Communication. Homeland co-creator Howard Gordon, House of Cards co-executive producer John Mankiewicz, NPR TV critic Eric Deggans, and political strategist and UD alumnus Steve Schmidt convened for "Fact vs. Fiction: Presidents in Hollywood."

Howard Gordon, a critically acclaimed television writer and producer, co-created the award-winning breakout series Homeland. Gordon was also the executive producer of the television series 2424: Live Another DayTyrant, and 24: Legacy. A twenty-five-year industry veteran, Gordon first gained national attention for his award-winning work on the groundbreaking series The X-Files, for which he won multiple Golden Globes.

John Mankiewicz is an Emmy-nominated television and film executive producer and screenwriter. He was co-executive producer of the popular series House of Cards. Recently, he co-created the 2020 true-crime drama series Interrogation. He was also co-executive producer for Bosch, and he co-created the television series The Street. He wrote and produced on the first two seasons of the medical drama, House. A former journalist, he has contributed to Esquire, Rolling Stone, and most recently, the New Yorker

Steve Schmidt, a University of Delaware alumnus and CPC founding senior fellow, is one of the premier public affairs and campaign strategists in the country. In December 2019, he co-founded The Lincoln Project, a political action committee, after formally leaving the GOP. He regularly appears on national news programs including those on MSNBC. Schmidt has worked on numerous Republican campaigns, most notably managing daily operations of John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2006 re-election campaign. He also served as an adviser for President George W. Bush.

Eric Deggans is National Public Radio's first full-time TV critic, crafting stories and commentaries for the network’s shows, such as Morning Edition, Here & Now and All Things Considered, along with writing material for He also appears on NPR podcasts such as Life Kit, Code Switch, It’s Been a Minute, and Pop Culture Happy Hour. Deggans is a contributor and media analyst for MSNBC/NBC News and an adjunct instructor in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. In 2020, he was given the Distinguished Alumni Service Award by Indiana University, four years after Indiana University’s Media School of journalism and communications named him a distinguished alumnus. 

October 13 to 14―Delaware Debates

Delaware Debates 2020 Logo

​Delaware's candidates for the gubernatorial and U.S. House of Representativesraces met for Delaware Debates 2020 on Tuesday, October 13, and Wednesday, October 14. The event marked the sixth biennial Delaware Debates since 2010, a joint initiative of the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication (CPC) and Delaware Public Media (WDDE 91.1, WMPH 91.7 and WMHS 88.1). Learn more at

October 28―"The Room Where It Happened"

​Covering the Trump White House

Read the news story. Watch a video of the complete program. Read the transcript.

On October 28, the University of Delaware welcomed National Public Radio's Mary Louise Kelly to National Agenda. The co-host of All Things Considered, NPR’s award-winning evening newsmagazine, shared her experience with covering the Trump administration, including a headline-grabbing dispute last January between Kelly and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Pompeo, angry about Kelly's questions about the Trump administration's Ukraine policy, challenged Kelly to locate Ukraine on an unmarked map (she did). Other recent interviews span from Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to Jane Fonda and Matt Damon. Previously, Kelly served as national security correspondent for NPR News, reporting on the CIA and the NSA, as well as terrorism, wars, and rising nuclear powers. Her assignments have included North Korea, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and beyond. Kelly’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, POLITICO, Newsweek, and other publications. She is also the author of two novels, Anonymous Sources and The Bullet.

November 11―Interference

The Role of Russia in U.S. Politics

Read the news story. Watch a video of the complete programRead the transcript

On November 11, the University of Delaware welcomed Julia Ioffe and special guest Domenico Montanaro to National Agenda.

Ioffe is a correspondent at GQ Magazine, former staff writer at The Atlantic, and former Russian correspondent for The New Yorker. A leading authority on Russian-US relations, Ioffe’s expertise is built on years of in-depth reporting in Russia. Born in Moscow, Ioffe’s family moved to the United States when she was seven years old. A graduate of Princeton University and a participant in Columbia Journalism School's Knight Foundation Case Studies Initiative, Ioffe won a Fulbright Scholarship to return to Russia in 2009, where she was the Moscow correspondent for The New Yorker Magazine as well as Foreign Policy. In 2012, she became a senior editor for The New Republic in Washington, DC, before moving to The Atlantic to cover politics and world affairs.

Montanaro, a UD alumnus (AS01) and CPC senior fellow, gave a post-election update. As National Public Radio's senior political editor and correspondent, he appears on air and online for NPR, delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.

November 18―Election Aftermath

We Are the Voters

Read the news story. Watch a video of the complete program. Read the transcript

On November 18, the University of Delaware welcomed Yamiche Alcindor to National Agenda. Alcindor, the White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour since January 2018, often examines the intersection of race and politics as well as fatal police encounters. As a contributor for NBC News and MSNBC, Alcindor appears on Morning Joe, Andrea Mitchell Reports, The Rachel Maddow Show, and Meet the Press with Chuck Todd. Before joining PBS NewsHour, Alcindor was a national political reporter for the New York Times and a national breaking news reporter for USA Today. In 2020, the White House Correspondents’ Association named Alcindor the recipient of the Aldo Beckman Award for "Overall Excellence in White House Coverage." She also received the Gwen Ifill Next Generation Award by Simmons University and the NextGen Leader Award by the Georgetown Entertainment & Media Alliance. She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and was named the organization’s "Emerging Journalist of the Year" in 2013.

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  • Department of Communication
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