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By Character Assassination and Reputation Politics Lab

The official podcast of George Mason University's Character Assassination and Reputation Politics Research Lab. Every month, we bring on new guests to explore the science of scandal and how individuals and organizations can protect themselves against attack. Learn more about our mission at carpresearchlab.org.
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Talking Character Assassination and Political Campaigns with Jason Jay Smart

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The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Reputation, with Martin Gurri
The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Reputation, with Martin Gurri
In 1962, media theorist Marshall McLuhan predicted that new communication technologies would transform the world into a “global village” in which the movement of ideas would no longer be constrained by geography. More pessimistically, McLuhan also said that the global village would “absolutely [ensure] maximal disagreement on all points.” 60 years later, the global village has become a reality- and the public is more divided and distrustful than ever. In this episode, CARP media outreach director Deirdre Jane Prigge speaks with former CIA media analyst Martin Gurri, whose 2014 book The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium details how a “tsunami of information” has stripped institutions of the authority they once took for granted. He joins us on the podcast to explain who the public and the elite are, why the public is so receptive to character assassination attempts, and how "old-fashioned virtues" like humility and courage can help individuals and organizations protect their reputations in a media environment hungry for scandal. Martin and Deirdre also discuss why prophecy is useless, the greatness of Leonard Bernstein, and how Martin became a hero in France. If you liked this episode, comment, subscribe, leave us a 5-star rating, and share it with your friends and family. We really appreciate it. Show Notes Martin Gurri is an author specializing in the relationship of politics and global media who has been praised for foreshadowing the political shocks of Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump. Mr. Gurri has published numerous articles, studies, and opinion pieces on geopolitical- and media-related topics. His blog, The Fifth Wave, pursues the themes first elaborated in The Revolt of the Public. He is also a George Mason alum and visiting research fellow at the Mercatus Center. For more updates about the CARP Lab's work, check out our website. We're also on Twitter @CARP_Lab.
01:01:49
January 05, 2022
The Power (and Pain) of Silence, with Dr. Kipling D. Williams
The Power (and Pain) of Silence, with Dr. Kipling D. Williams
This year, the CARP Lab’s annual conference was dedicated to cancel culture, which we define as the practice of expelling people from their social or professional circles due to real or alleged offensive behavior. Those who are “canceled” may be scapegoated, stigmatized, and publicly shamed. Whether rightly or wrongly, canceled people often feel that they have been silenced and are unable to speak up for themselves.  Although cancel culture is often associated with the rise of social media, social exclusion and ostracism are much older phenomena. That's why we were so lucky to speak with Dr. Kipling D. Williams, a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Purdue University who is widely recognized as the world’s leading authority on ostracism and social rejection. In this episode, Deirdre Jane Prigge and Dr. Williams discuss ostracism’s evolutionary roots, how it works, and why no one is immune to its effects. He also explains how a chance encounter with two Frisbee players led to the development of his ball toss and Cyberball experiments, innovative methods to study how ostracism works in the lab. Finally, Dr. Williams shares why some people recover from ostracism more quickly than others, what we can learn from the stories of amazing people who survived and thrived after experiencing ostracism and exclusion, and how you can help others cope with its effects.  We truly hope that this episode can be of help to anyone who feels isolated, ignored, or excluded. Ostracism is incredibly painful, but it can be overcome. Finally, if someone you know is dealing with ostracism, don’t be afraid to reach out and form a connection. Even one smile or kind word can make a huge difference.  If you liked this episode, comment, subscribe, leave us a 5-star rating, and share it with your friends and family. We really appreciate it. Show Notes Dr. Williams is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Purdue University. His work primarily addresses social influence, which he calls the heart of social psychology. Dr. Williams has conducted research into many areas of social psychology, including ostracism, social loafing and social compensation, internet research, stealing thunder, and psychology and law. You can read more of his work here. For more updates about the CARP Lab's work, check out our website. We're also on Twitter @CARP_Lab.
01:08:53
October 13, 2021
Political Communications 101 with Sarah Isgur
Political Communications 101 with Sarah Isgur
On shows like Scandal and House of Cards, political consultants are all-powerful masterminds able to spin any scandal, hide any indiscretion, and transform small-time politicians into big-name front-runners. However, this “spin doctor” image owes more to media myth-making than real-life political communications. In this episode, CARP media outreach director Deirdre Jane Prigge speaks with Sarah Isgur, former Justice Department spokeswoman and legal podcaster par excellence. Sarah draws from her experience on three presidential campaigns and in all three branches of government to explain what political communications professionals really do, why some character attacks work and others fail, and why Olympic curling is the best metaphor for political communications. She also shares what it was like to prepare Carly Fiorina for the 2016 Republican primary debates, her experiences as a target of character assassination, and her tips for aspiring communications professionals.  Finally, Sarah reveals a few things you won’t hear anywhere else, like which Republican primary candidate was always lonely in the greenroom, the difficulties of finding a woman’s bathroom in the Ronald Reagan Building, and what it's like to get a voicemail from the National Enquirer.  If you liked this episode, comment, subscribe, leave us a 5-star rating, and share it with your friends and family. We really appreciate it. Show Notes Sarah Isgur is a staff writer for the Dispatch. She writes about political campaigns for her weekly newsletter, the Sweep, and discusses the courts with her co-host David French on the Advisory Opinions podcast. You can also find her on Twitter @Whignewtons. For more updates about the CARP Lab's work, check out our website. We're also on Twitter @CARP_Lab.
01:02:40
September 01, 2021
The Art and Science of Psychological Profiling, with Dr. Ekaterina Egorova
The Art and Science of Psychological Profiling, with Dr. Ekaterina Egorova
With packs of reporters following the campaign trail and an endless stream of media dedicated to Beltway gossip, it's tempting to think we know everything about modern political campaigns work. However, political consultants still have a few tricks up their sleeves.  In this interview, Dr. Sergei Samoilenko talks to Ekaterina Egorova. Dr Egorova is the founder and president of Niccolo M Strategic Communications Agency, Russia's leading political consulting and public relations firm. She's also the founder of Political Profiler, an American company specializing in psychological profiles of political leaders. Dr. Egorova goes all the way back to the Russian Empire to discuss the history of psychological profiling, how her firm develops profiles of political leaders, and who benefits from this method of understanding and forecasting leaders' behavior in wartime and peacetime alike. She also shares what we can learn from studying politicians’ posture, tone of voice, and even their childhood drawings.  If you liked this podcast, comment, subscribe, leave us a 5-star rating, and share it with your friends and family. Show Notes The original interview (with photos!) is on Youtube (and check out our other videos while you're there.) Check out the CARP Research Lab website here. We're also on Twitter @CARP_Lab. Follow Dr. Sergei on Twitter @sergeitheprguy.
54:11
July 06, 2021
The Savage Mirror: Political Humor, Caricature, and Saturday Night Live, with Dr. Chris Gilbert
The Savage Mirror: Political Humor, Caricature, and Saturday Night Live, with Dr. Chris Gilbert
Saturday Night Live has been lampooning politicians since its debut in 1975. In recent years, Tina Fey as vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Larry David as presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders were SNL performances par excellence. What can those interested in character assassination learn from studying Saturday Night Live? In this interview, recorded before the 2020 presidential campaign, Jennifer Keohane talks with rhetorician and political humor expert Christopher J. Gilbert about what made Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump such a comedic tour de force. They also discuss the relationship between democracy and comedy, what caricatures say about character, and whether politicians should go on late-night TV. If you liked this podcast, comment, subscribe, leave us a 5-star rating, and share it with your friends and family. Show Notes The original interview (with photos!) is on Youtube (and check out our other videos while you're there.) Check out the CARP Research Lab website here. We're also on Twitter @CARP_Lab. Follow Dr. Keohane on Twitter @KeohaneJA. 
50:13
June 27, 2021
Toppling Statues and the Damnation of Memory, with Martijn Icks and Eric Shiraev
Toppling Statues and the Damnation of Memory, with Martijn Icks and Eric Shiraev
In recent years, statues of historical figures across the world have become the focus of fierce discussion. However, this debate is hardly a new phenomenon. From ancient Rome to downtown Prague, monuments to the high and mighty have always been contested, defaced and removed. In this episode originally recorded in June of 2020, historian Martijn Icks and political psychologist Eric Shiraev travel to ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, and Eastern Europe to put the toppling of statues in historical perspective. They explore the history of what the Romans called "the damnation of memory," the many reasons why people destroy, deface, and remove monumental art, and how this form of iconoclasm has changed over time. Finally, they offer their own modest suggestions on how we might reconcile the past and present.  If you liked this podcast, comment, subscribe, leave us a 5-star rating, and share it with your friends and family. Show Notes To see the photos that Eric and Martijn discuss in the episode, watch the interview on Youtube (and check out our other videos while you're there.) Check out the CARP Research Lab website here. We're also on Twitter @CARP_Lab. Follow Dr. Shiraev on Twitter @EricShiraev and Dr. Icks @Martijn_Icks.
51:55
June 19, 2021
Talking Character Assassination and Political Campaigns with Jason Jay Smart
Talking Character Assassination and Political Campaigns with Jason Jay Smart
In this throwback episode from the 2020 presidential campaign, Dr. Eric Shiraev interviews Jason Jay Smart, an international political strategist and campaign manager who has worked in Ukraine, Moldova, and Kyrgyzstan. Smart is also a graduate of George Mason University. Here, Eric and Jason discuss the reasons why some character attacks work and others don't (hint- it's all about culture), the real difference between the United States and Kyrgyzstan, and why dictators should tolerate a little protest.  If you liked this podcast, comment, subscribe, leave us a 5-star rating, and share it with your friends and family. Show Notes Watch the interview on Youtube, and check out our other videos while you're there. Check out the CARP Research Lab website here. We're also on Twitter @CARP_Lab. Follow Dr. Shiraev on Twitter @EricShiraev and Dr. Keohane @keohaneja.
53:31
June 17, 2021
Villains or Minions? An Interview with Author and Sociologist James Jasper
Villains or Minions? An Interview with Author and Sociologist James Jasper
In this episode, Dr. Sergei Samoilenko interviews James M. Jasper, professor of sociology at the City University of New York. Jasper is the author of multiple books, including "Public Characters: the Politics of Reputation and Blame" and "The Emotions of Protest." Here, James and Serge discuss the difference between character and characters, how character assassins transform minions into villains, and why sociologists should study rhetoric. If you liked this podcast, comment, subscribe, leave us a 5-star rating, and share it with your friends and family. Show Notes Watch the interview on Youtube, and check out our other videos while you're there. Check out the CARP Research Lab website here. We're also on Twitter @CARP_Lab. Follow Dr. Sergei on Twitter @sergeitheprguy and Dr. Keohane @keohaneja.
57:23
June 14, 2021
An Interview with Eric Dezenhall, Author and Crisis Management Guru
An Interview with Eric Dezenhall, Author and Crisis Management Guru
In this episode originally posted on the CARP Lab Youtube channel, Dr. Sergei Samoilenko interviews Eric Dezenhall, CEO of Washington, D.C.-based PR firm Dezenhall Resources. Dezenhall is also a prolific author. His books include Glass Jaw: A Manifesto for Defending Fragile Reputations in an Age of Instant Scandal and False Light, a novel based on his experiences in crisis communications. Here, Serge and Eric discuss the many myths of crisis management, why crises are definitely not opportunities, and why entertainers don't make good clients.  If you liked this podcast, comment, subscribe, leave us a 5-star rating, and share it with your friends and family. Show Notes Watch the interview on Youtube, and check out our other videos while you're there.  Check out the CARP Research Lab website here. We're also on Twitter @CARP_Lab. Follow Dr. Sergei on Twitter @sergeitheprguy and Dr. Keohane @keohaneja.
51:01
June 07, 2021