Events

Wallace House partners with Ford School for Speaker Series “Democracy in Crisis: Views from the Press”

February 25, 2022

Featured speakers from left to right include Molly Ball, Barton Gellman and Anne Applebaum

About the Series

U.S. democratic institutions are under attack. While law enforcement agencies and a Congressional committee still work to investigate the January 6, 2021, attacks on the Capitol – political violence aimed at blocking or overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election – a wave of subsequent efforts have continued to seek to undermine the norms and structures that have given Americans basic confidence in elections and in the peaceful transfer of power. Meanwhile, from statehouses to the Supreme Court, bitter debates rage over voting rights, access, and security. The University of Michigan will host four award-winning journalists who will share their insights into the forces threatening and protecting American democratic structures and systems.

The series will also explore the current state of journalism and the role of the press in upholding democratic institutions–at a time of demagogic attacks on the media and dramatic shifts in media ownership and independence. The series begins with three events in March featuring Molly Ball, Barton Gellman, and Sarah Kendzior, and will culminate in a keynote lecture at the Michigan League by Pulitzer Prize winning author, journalist, and historian, Anne Applebaum, on April 4.

This speaker series is hosted by the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Co-sponsored by Democracy & Debate, Wallace House, Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum, and Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation.


Molly Ball, “Democracy: What It Takes”

4:30 p.m. ET | Wednesday, March 9

Weill Hall, Betty Ford Classroom (1110)

735 S. State Street Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Watch the event

Join us for a discussion with two Knight-Wallace alumni. Hear from TIME National Political Correspondent and Molly Ball in conversation with longtime political writer Craig Gilbert to kick off the Spring 2022 Democracy in Crisis series.

This is an in-person event limited to current University of Michigan students, faculty, and staff. All attendees will be required to complete the ResponsiBlue screening before entering the building, and masks are required. Registration is required to attend.

The event will also be live-streamed for those outside of the university, or university members who choose not to attend in person. The live stream will appear on this page on the day of the event. Registration for the live stream is optional.

About the Event

The 2020 election, conducted in the shadow of an unprecedented pandemic and a president determined to sabotage the vote, laid bare how fragile America’s democratic institutions are. What did we learn from the weaknesses 2020 exposed? What efforts are underway to sabotage—and protect—the next national election? And how can we strengthen democracy going forward?

About the Speaker

A prominent voice on U.S. politics, Molly Ball serves as national political correspondent for Time and is a frequent television and radio commentator. She is the author of Pelosi, the first biography written with the House Speaker’s cooperation. Prior to joining Time, Ball was a staff writer covering U.S. politics for The Atlantic. She previously reported for Politico, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and the Las Vegas Sun. She has worked for newspapers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Cambodia, as well as The New York Times and The Washington Post. Ball is the recipient of the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting, the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency, the Sandy Hume Memorial Award for Excellence in Political Journalism, and the Lee Walczak Award for Political Analysis for her coverage of political campaigns. A graduate of Yale University, she was a Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan in 2009-2010 and serves on the Livingston Award judging panel.

About the Moderator

Craig Gilbert is the recently retired Washington Bureau Chief and national political reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He has covered every presidential campaign since 1988 and chronicled Wisconsin’s role as the nation’s most enduring political battleground. Gilbert has written extensively about the battle for the swing states of the industrial Midwest, the region’s shifting political map, its increasingly polarized political culture and the deepening urban-rural divide. His work has been recognized by Editor & Publisher, the National Press Foundation, the National Headliner Awards, the Milwaukee Press Club, and the Columbia Journalism Review, which called him the “most political science friendly reporter in America.” Gilbert was a Knight-Wallace fellow at the University of Michigan; a writer in residence at the University of Wisconsin, and is currently a Lubar Fellow at the Marquette Law School. Gilbert previously worked for the Miami Herald, the Kingston (NY) Daily Freeman and was a speechwriter for New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. He has a B.A. in History from Yale University.


Barton Gellman, “Democracy in Crisis”

4:00 p.m. ET | Wednesday, March 23

Register now

Watch here

Join us for Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author Barton Gellman in conversation with Michigan Law Professor from Practice Barbara McQuade, as part of the spring 2022 Democracy in Crisis series.

This is a virtual event.

About the Speaker

Barton Gellman, a staff writer at The Atlantic, is the author most recently of Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State and the bestselling Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency. He has held positions as senior fellow at The Century Foundation, Lecturer at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School and visiting research collaborator at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy. Before joining The Atlantic, Gellman spent 21 years at The Washington Post, where he served tours as legal, diplomatic, military and Middle East correspondent. Gellman anchored the team that won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for coverage of the National Security Agency and Edward Snowden. He was previously awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for a series on Vice President Dick Cheney. In 2002, he was a member of the team that won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for coverage of the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath. Other professional honors include two George Polk Awards, two Overseas Press Club awards, two Emmy awards for a PBS Frontline documentary, Harvard’s Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

About the Moderator

Barbara L. McQuade, BA ’87, JD ’91, is a professor from practice. Her interests include criminal law, criminal procedure, national security, data privacy, and civil rights. From 2010 to 2017, Professor McQuade served as the U.S attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. Appointed by President Barack Obama, she was the first woman to serve in her position. Professor McQuade also served as vice-chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee and co-chaired its Terrorism and National Security Subcommittee. As U.S. attorney, she oversaw cases involving public corruption, terrorism, corporate fraud, theft of trade secrets, civil rights, and health care fraud, among others. Professor McQuade also serves as a legal analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Lawfare, Just Security, Slate, and National Public Radio, and she has been quoted in The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, Politico, and other publications. Before becoming U.S. attorney, Professor McQuade served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Detroit for 12 years, serving as deputy chief of the National Security Unit, where she handled cases involving terrorism financing, export violations, threats, and foreign agents. Professor McQuade began her career practicing law at the firm of Butzel Long in Detroit. Professor McQuade previously taught at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. Professor McQuade has been recognized by the Detroit Free Press with the Neal Shine Award for Exemplary Regional Leadership, The Detroit News with the Michiganian of the Year Award, Crain’s Detroit Business as a Newsmaker of the Year and one of Detroit’s Most Influential Women, the Detroit Branch NAACP and Arab American Civil Rights League with their Tribute to Justice Award, and the Council on Legal Education Opportunity with their Diversity Award.


Sarah Kendzior, “Hiding in Plain Sight”

4:30 p.m. ET | Thursday, March 31

Register Now

Sarah Kendzior, author of Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America, will be in conversation with Jonathan Hanson, political scientist and lecturer in statistics at the Ford School as part of the spring 2022 Democracy in Crisis series.

This is a virtual event. The event will have a live watch party in Weill Hall, Room 1110. A free copy of Sarah Kendzior’s book, Hiding in Plain Sight, will be provided for attendees at the viewing party on a first-come first-serve basis. Attendance at this watch party is limited to current University of Michigan students, faculty, and staff. All attendees will be required to complete the ResponsiBlue screening before entering the building, and masks are required. Registration is required to attend.

About the Speaker

Sarah Kendzior is a journalist who lectures on politics, the economy, and the media. Since 2006, she has regularly given talks and keynotes at universities and policy forums around the world. She is the author of the best-selling book The View From Flyover Country, which was re-released in 2018 after originally being published as an eBook in 2015 and becoming a bestseller the following year, and her new book Hiding in Plain Sight

Sarah Kendzior received her Ph.D. studying the authoritarian states of the former Soviet Union and has since put that expertise to use in explaining what is happening to the United States. Today she writes regularly for the Globe and Mail, NBC News, and Fast Company. She has over 350,000 followers on Twitter and is regularly interviewed by the media both in the US and abroad. In summer 2018, she launched the Gaslit Nation podcast with Andrea Chalupa. She is a recurring guest on the MSNBC show AM Joy, where she discusses corruption in the Trump administration as well as the Russian interference scandal.

Sarah Kendzior’s Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America pulls back the veil on a history spanning decades, a history of an American autocrat in the making. In doing so, she reveals the inherent fragility of American democracy – how our continual loss of freedom, the rise of consolidated corruption, and the secrets behind a burgeoning autocratic United States have been hiding in plain sight for decades.


Anne Applebaum, “Democracy in Crisis: The Twilight of Democracy”

4:00 p.m. ET | Monday, April 4

Michigan League Ballroom

911 N University Ave. Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Register Now

Pulitzer Prize winning historian, journalist and commentator Anne Applebaum delivers the keynote lecture of the Spring 2022 Democracy in Crisis series, in conversation with Ford School Dean Michael S. Barr.

This is an in-person event. All in-person attendees will be required to complete the ResponsiBlue screening before entering the building. Registration is required to attend.

The event will also be livestreamed for those who choose not to attend in-person. The livestream will appear on this page the day of the event. Registration is optional.

About the Speaker

Pulitzer Prize winning historian, journalist and commentator on geopolitics, Anne Applebaum, examines the challenges and opportunities of global political and economic change through the lenses of world history and the contemporary political landscape. Informed by her expertise in Europe and her years of international reporting, Applebaum shares perspectives on, and the far-reaching implications of, today’s volatile world events. In July 2020, Penguin published Anne’s book ‘Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism’. Anne was later named one of “The Top 50 Thinkers of the Covid-19 Age” by Prospect magazine. She is a Senior Fellow of International Affairs and Agora Fellow in Residence at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. For many years, Applebaum wrote a biweekly foreign affairs column for The Washington Post which is syndicated internationally. She is now a staff writer at The Atlantic.

Read Anne Applebaum’s current piece in The Atlantic on Russia’s war in Ukraine and why the world’s democratic powers must help Ukraine win.


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