"World War I was a railway war of centralism and encirclement.
World War II was a radio war of decentralism.
World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation."
- Marshall McLuhan, Culture is our Business (1970), p. 66.

Political Media, Disinformation & Activism in the Age of COVID
School of Media Studies
The New School
Fall 2020

Instructor: Peter Asaro asarop AT newschool.edu
Time: Monday, 6:00 - 7:50 pm
Location: Synchronous Online (ZOOM)

Course webpage is here: http://peterasaro.org/courses/2020Disinfo.html

Course blog is here: http://disinfo2020.wordpress.com/

Course Description

We face simultaneous global health and economic crises of epic proportions, amid growing signs of the failure of government accountability and democratic processes. At the same time, we are preparing for the most divisive United States Presidential election in history. Because of social distancing and quarantines, this will also be an election that will be discussed and debated almost entirely on-line. The role of the mass media and social media platforms, and their power to shape public opinion, will be greater than ever before. Meanwhile, the US response to the COVID pandemic has been politicized at every turn, from the role of the World Health Organization and China, to immigration policies. Misinformation about the virus, from scams to unproven cures, and an array of conspiracy theories about its origins have been shared widely on social and mass media. Corporations and the government are seizing new powers of digital surveillance and social control in the name of public safety. How the political messaging around the pandemic plays out, and plays into the upcoming election will be the focus of this seminar, along with the ways in which activists and social movements are creatively deploying media technologies to organize, create solidarity and preserve democracy under enforced social isolation.

While the course will focus on US politics, international students are encouraged to bring a global perspective to these issues, and we will compare the US situation to those in other countries. We will examine the traditional roles of political rhetoric in presidential politics, as well as the unique strategies employed by President Trump. We will examine how audiences are created and shaped by internet and broadcast media platforms, how political campaigns, public health agencies, and activists are using social media platforms, and how audiences are responding to these messages. As we follow the political conventions, speeches, debates, presidential tweets and press briefings, public health warnings, protests and demonstrations, we will consider the ways in which the current crises facing the nation and the world are framed politically, and in turn used as political tools. Students will be required to keep political media journals with regular entries and commentary, complete readings as assigned, participate in online class discussions via Zoom, and write two 6-10 page papers, or create short multi-media presentations, during the course of the semester.


Class Attendance & Participation 30%
Media Journal Blog Entries & Comments: 30%
First Paper or Media Project 20%
Second Paper or Media Project: 20%

Class Attendance and Participation: 30%

You are expected to have thoroughly and thoughtfully read the assigned texts, viewed the assigned videos, and to have prepared yourself to contribute meaningfully to the class discussions. For some people, that preparation requires taking copious notes on the assigned readings; for others, it entails supplementing the assigned readings with explanatory texts found in survey textbooks or in online sources; and for others still, it involves reading the texts, ruminating on them afterwards, then discussing those readings with classmates before the class meeting. Whatever method best suits you, I hope you will arrive at class with copies of the assigned reading, ready and willing to make yourself a valued contributor to the discussion, and eager to share your own relevant media experiences and interests. Your participation will be evaluated in terms of both quantity and quality.

As this is a seminar, regular attendance is essential. You will be permitted two excused absences (you must notify me of your inability to attend before class, via email). Any subsequent absences and any un-excused absences will adversely affect your grade.

If you must take the class "asynchronously" due to scheduling or time-zone conflicts, you must make arrangements with me for your class participation at the beginning of the semester. In most cases this will consist of watching the posted videos of the weekly discussion, and posting an additional weekly blog entry with your reflections on the week's topic and readings (approx. 1 page or 500 words).

Media Journal Blog Entries & Comments: 30%

You will be required to keep a daily "Media Journal" and make weekly blog entries commenting on the political media that you consume each week.

You will be required to create an account on WordPress (if you do not already have one), and send me an email with your LoginID and the EMAIL ADDRESS used to create the account, so that you can be added as an author for the collective course blog. Everyone will be posting to a common blog page, and this will be readable by your classmates, but not by people outside of the class. When writing and making comments, you are expected to treat other students with the same respect and courtesy as you should in the classroom, and to cite the sources of any text or quots you use.

The idea of a "Media Journal" is for you to keep a private written record of the various political media (broadly construed) that you consume each day. You should start by tracking your media "diet": what types of media are you consuming each day (TV, websites, social media, radio, etc.)?; how much time do you spend consuming various types of media?; which specific platforms and sites do you spend the most time on?; and how much of that contains political media?

Beyond your own media diet and consumption, your journal should evolve to contain your reactions to the specific media objects you encounter. As you find specific ads, memes, stories or topics particulary interesting, you should develop a written analysis of these: what is the political message?; who is the purported speaker?; who is the intended audience?; what is the proximate aim?; what political interests lie behind the message?; what is its ultimate aim or effect?; what psychological and semiotic tactics does it use? As this journal is for you, you can keep this as a digital file or handwritten journal as you choose. It can take any form you like. But make an effort to save bookmarks and links to the specific political media objects that impress you each week.

Once a week, you will review and reflect on this journal and write a short (1-page or so) blog entry on the course blog analyzing any specific media objects, events, stories, memes, images, video clips, etc. which you found particularly interesting, or reflections on your own media consumption behaviors and/or reactions, or political activism.

You are also expected to read the posts of your classmates, and encouraged to comment on other people's posts each week. Posts will not be graded but I, and other students, will read them and occasionally comment on them. There will be 12 posts worth 2 Points (on-time) or 1 point (late) required through the semester (not required on days when papers/projects are due), thus 24 points, plus 6 points for comments on the posts of other students, totalling 30% of your grade.

Blog posts will be due before the start of each class. They are time stamped when you post them, and late posts will only receive half credit (1 point). There is no specific topic for each post, but they should express your reactions to and reflections on your media journal for that week.

First Paper or Media Project 20%
Second Paper or Media Project: 20%
There will be no final exam.

There are two research projects, required for the semester. There are 2 options: Research/Analysis Paper Option, and Media Project Option.

First Paper or Media Project Due: November 2
Paper Length: 3000-5000 words (approx. 6-10 pages), Media Projects of equivalent effort

Second Paper or Media Project Due: December 18
Paper Length: 3000-5000 words (approx. 6-10 pages), Media Projects of equivalent effort

Project topics can address any aspect of the topics and materials discussed in class. Projects should include materials beyond what is directly covered in class, as appropriate for your topic. In other words, they should require research. You media journal and blog entires will provide many ideas for projects, as will class discussion. You should develop one of these into a more in depth analysis through additional research to try to answer a question, or argue a position, you feel is important.

Research Paper Option
This will take the form of a 3000-5000 word (Times New Roman, 12pt font, double spaced) term paper. You should draw upon sources from the course readings as well as beyond the course readings. You should cite your sources properly.

Media Project Option
Media Projects can take the form of film and video pieces, audio documentaries, websites, interactive media, performance pieces, infographics, a social media campaign strategy, or other ideas. In addition to the actual media product, you will need to submit a short written piece explaining your project, its motivations, methods and what you did to realize it.

Papers should be submitted to me in electronic form by email (Word Perfect, MS Word, PDF, HTML and plain TXT are all fine). All assignments are due at 6pm at the start of class on the day they are due. Late final papers will not be accepted, as I must turn in grades shortly thereafter.


All readings will be available electronically, via the web, in PDF, MS Word, HTML, or similar format. You are welcome and encouraged to buy any of the books used.


All of the Zoom lecture/discussion sessions will be recorded. Recordings will only be made available to members of the class through a Google Drive. By attending this class you consent to being recorded.

Weekly Topics & Readings

Week 1: August 31
Course Introduction

Course Syllabus Overview

Student Introductions

How to keep a media journal, create a WordPress Account, and make a Blog Entry

Discuss in Class:
Watch BEFORE Class: "Secrets of Silicon Valley: The Persuasion Machine" BBC, 59 min., 2017. (Access via your New School email/GDrive account only). If you have trouble viewing the .mkv file, try VLC Player.

Alternatively watch on Netflix: Watch: Karim Amer, Jehane Noujaim, The Great Hack, 2019, Netflix, 113 min.

Week of September 7
NO CLASS due to Labor Day
Post 1st Media Journal Entry to Blog

Week 2: September 14
From Propaganda 1.0 to Propaganda 2.0


Edward Bernays, Propaganda, Horace Liveright Inc., 1928, pp. 1-61 and 135-153.

Watch: " Frontline, "The Persuaders", Clip featuring Frank Luntz & Narrowcasting PBS, 12 min., 2004. (Access via your New School email/GDrive account only).

Joseph Goebbels, "The Führer as a Speaker," German Propaganda Archive, Calvin College, 1936.

David Vaughn, "The Master's Voice," The Guardian, October 8, 2008.

Cornelia Epping-Jäger "Hitler’s Voice : The Loudspeaker under National Socialism." Intermédialités, 17 (2011): 83–104.

Joseph Goebbels, "Knowledge and Propaganda," German Propaganda Archive, Calvin College, 1934.

Watch: Joachim Fest and Christian Herrendoerfer, Hitler: A Career, 1977, 160 min.

Tim Alberta, "James O'Keefe Can't Get No Respect, Politico, May/June, 2018.

Wikipedia, "James O'Keefe".

Nikolas Rose & Thomas Osborne, "Do the Social Sciences Create Phenomena: The Case of Public Opinion Research," British Journal of Sociology, 50, 3 (1999): 367-396.

"Propaganda", Wikipedia.

"Newspeak", Wikipedia.


Nikolas Rose, "Governing by Numbers: Figuring Out Democracy," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Volume 16, Issue 7, 1991, Pages 673-692.

Edward Herman & Noam Chomsky "A Propaganda Model," in Meenakshi Gigi Durham & Douglas M. Kellner, Eds., Media and Cultural Studies: KeyWorks, Rev. Ed., Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001: 280-317.

Stuart Hall "Encoding/Decoding," in Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Douglas M. Kellner, Eds., Media and Cultural Studies: KeyWorks, Rev. Ed., Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001: 166-176.

Watch: Charlie Rose Interview with Steve Bannon, CBS 60 Minutes, September 2017, Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Watch: Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick, Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, 1992, 167 min.

Watch: Adam Curtis, The Century of the Self, 2002, 235 min.

Watch: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver , "The Sinclair Group," HBO, July 2, 2017, 19 minutes.

Watch: Sidney Lumet, Network, MGM, 1976, 121 min.

Week 3: September 21
Propaganda 3.0: Fake News & Social Media Manipulation


Ryan Holiday, Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, "Book Two: The Monster Attacks, What Blogs Mean," Portfolio/Penguin, 2012, pp. 95-198.

Watch: Amanda Hess, "Internetting with Amanda Hess: Episode 1: The Dark Art of Political Memes," New York Times, October 31, 2017, 4 min.

Massimo Calabresi, Inside Russia's Social Media War on America, Time, May 18, 2017.

Ryan Broderick, "A Step-By-Step Guide For How Russian Bots Trick Far-Right Trolls Into Spreading Fake News," BuzzFeed, September 24, 2017.

Keith Collins, and Kevin Roose, "Tracing a Meme From the Internet's Fringe to a Republican Slogan," New York Times, November 4, 2018.

Phillip Seargeant, "Fake News, Filter Bubbles & Facebook." Open University, January 2017.

Scott Shane, "The Fake Americans Russia Created to Influence the Election," The New York Times, September 7, 2017.

Hunt Allcott and Matthew Gentzkow, "Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election," Journal of Economic Perspectives, 31(2), Spring 2017, pp. 211-236.

Regina Marchi, "With Facebook, Blogs, and Fake News, Teens Reject Journalistic "Objectivity"," Journal of Communication Inquiry, 36(3) pp. 246-262.

"Filter Bubble", Wikipedia.

Explore: Alliance for Securing Democracy, Tracking Russian Influence Operations on Twitter, Website.

Zachary Cohen and Marshall Cohen, "Trump retweets Russian propaganda about Biden that US intel agencies say is intended to influence 2020 election," CNN, August 17, 2020.


Watch: Arthur Jones, Feels Good Man, 2020, 92 minutes.

Watch: Eli Parser, "Beware Online 'Filter Bubbles'," Ted Talk, March 2011, 9 minutes.

Will Oremus, "The Filter Bubble Revisted," Slate, April 5, 2017.

Peter W.Singer and Emerson T. Brooking, LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2018.

Thursday, September 24, 12pm Noon ET
Deepfakery Online Event #5

Witness.org & MIT present, "Manipulating Memories: Archives, History and Deepfakes."

Week of September 28
NO CLASS due to Yom Kippur

Tuesday, September 29
First U.S. Presidential Debate
Watch on CSPAN, 8pm ET

Week 4: October 5
U.S. Politics & Media


Soumitra Dutta and Matthew Fraser, "Barack Obama and the Facebook Election," USA Today, Nov. 19, 2008.

Aaron Smith, "The Internet's Role in Campaign 2008," Pew Research Center, April 15, 2009.

Matthew Rosenberg and Kevin Roose, "Trump Campaign Floods Web With Ads, Raking In Cash as Democrats Struggle," New York Times, October 20, 2019.

Ben Smith, "Jeff Zucker Helped Create Donald Trump. That Show May Be Ending," New York Times, September 20, 2020.

Watch: Political Ads that Shaped the Battle for the White House, RetroReport.org, 2016,
Ep1 "Willie Horton," 5 min., Original Ad.
Ep2 "It's 3:00am," 4 min., Original Ad.
Ep3 "Morning in America," 4 min., Original Ad.
Ep4 "Daisy," 4 min., Original Ad.

"Swiftboating", Wikipedia.

Watch: Swiftboat Veterans for Truth Attack ads, 3 min, 2004. Ad 1, Ad 2, Ad 3,

Watch: 60 Years of Presidential Attack Ads in One Video, The Atlantic 2017, 8 min.

Watch: How Kennedy's TV Strategies Helped Him Win the Election, 3 min.

Watch: Allan Lichtman on Keys to Presidential Election, New York Times Op-Doc, August 5, 2020, 7 min.

Watch: Presidential Debates: Why the Little Things Matter, 11 min.


Watch: Frank Luntz breaks down Biden's DNC Speech, CNBC, 5 min.

Watch: Frontline, "America's Great Divide: From Obama to Trump, Parts 1 & 2" January 13, 2020, 4 hours 50 min.

Wednesday, October 7
U.S. Vice-Presidential Debate
Watch on CSPAN, 9pm ET

Week 5: October 12
Political Rhetoric


Jennifer Mercieca (2020) Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump, Texas A&M University Press, College Station, TX.

Paul Rosenberg, "The secret of his success: Donald Trump's six weird tricks for authoritarian rule," Salon, July 4, 2020.

Nina Khrushcheva, "Propaganda Wars, in Russia and Elsewhere, Do Not Win a COVID-19 Battle," May 31, 2020, India-China Institute, The New School, New York.

Nikki McCain Ramirez, "Tucker Carlson's racist and extreme descriptions of the Black Lives Matter movement," Media Matters, July, 13, 2020.

Geoffrey Skelley "Trump's Law And Order Message Isn't Resonating With Most Americans," FiveThirtyEight, September 4, 2020.

Jean Guerrero, "Stephen Miller's Dystopian America," New York Times, August, 28, 2020.

Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers "Trump's Tactic: Sowing Distrust in Whatever Gets in His Way," New York Times, September 3, 2020.

James Fallows "The Media Learned Nothing From 2016," The Atlantic, September 15, 2020.

Dan Brooks, "How President Trump Ruined Political Comedy," New York Times, October 7, 2020.

Paul Matzko, "Talk Radio Is Turning Millions of Americans Into Conservatives," New York Times, October 9, 2020.


Jacob S. Hacker & Paul Pierson (2020) Let Them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality," Liveright Publishing Corporation, New York.

Thursday, October 15
Second U.S. Presidential Debate CANCELLED
Watch Biden Town Hall event on ABC, 8pm ET
Watch Trump Town Hall event on NBC, 8pm ET

Week 6: October 19
Truth & Deception: Norms & Institutions


Ava Kofman, "Bruno Latour, the Post-Truth Philosopher, Mounts a Defense of Science," New York Times, October 25, 2018.

Jeff Hancock, "Trump's Bullsh*t: Why His Supporters Don't Care that He is Lying," CNN, October 17, 2016.

Editorial, "Yes, I'd Lie to You," The Economist, September 10, 2016.

Cody Fenwick, "Federal judge rules that Fox News host Tucker Carlson's viewers don't expect him to tell facts," Salon, September 25, 2020.

Watch: WSJ Video, "Election 2020: Misinformation Has Never Been More of a Threat," Wall Street Journal, October 2, 2020, 5 minutes.

George M. Eberhart, "Media Literacy in an Age of Fake News," American Libraries Magazine, November 1, 2019.

Arjun Appadurai, "Miscommunication," The Idea of Media, August 17, 2020.

Farah Stockman, "What I Learned From a List of Trump Accomplishments," New York Times, September 11, 2020.

Maggie Astor, "Project Veritas Video Was a 'Coordinated Disinformation Campaign,' Researchers Say," New York Times, September 29, 2020.

Edward-Isaac Dovere, "Why Americans Might Not Trust the Election Results," The Atlantic, May 28, 2020.

RJ Reinhart, "Faith in Elections in Relatively Short Supply in U.S.," Gallup, February 13, 2020.

Justin McCarthy, "Confidence in Accuracy of U.S. Election Matches Record Low," Gallup, Octobr 8, 2020.

"Epistemological Problems of Testimony," Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

"Definition of Lying and Deception," Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Trump War Room, "BREAKING: Twitter has locked the personal account of White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany for sharing news Democrats don’t like," Twitter, October 14, 2020.

Emma-Jo Morris and Gabrielle Fonrogue, "Hunter Biden emails show leveraging connections with his father to boost Burisma pay," New York Post, October 14, 2020.

Rep. Jim Jordan, "Smoking-gun email reveals how Hunter Biden introduced Ukrainian businessman to VP dad," House Republicans Website, October 14, 2020.

Katie Glueck, Michael S. Schmidt and Mike Isaac, "Allegation on Biden Prompts Pushback From Social Media Companies," New York Times, October 14, 2020.

Kate Conger, "Twitter Will Turn Off Some Features to Fight Election Misinformation," New York Times, October 9, 2020.

Nicole Perlroth and Matthew Rosenberg, "Russians Hacked Ukrainian Gas Company at Center of Impeachment," New York Times, October 14, 2020.

Kate Conger and Mike Isaac, "In Reversal, Twitter Is No Longer Blocking New York Post Article," New York Times, October 16, 2020.

Katie Robinson, "New York Post Published Hunter Biden Report Amid Newsroom Doubts," New York Times, October 18, 2020.


Watch: Jeff Hancock, "Truth, Trustworthiness and Technology in Political Campaigns," ACM, November 6, 2016, 70 minutes.

"Truth," Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

"Belief," Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

"Value of Knowledge," Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Jeffrey A Harvey et al, "Internet Blogs, Polar Bears, and Climate-Change Denial by Proxy," BioScience,Volume 68, Issue 4, April 2018.

Watch: Jeff Hancock, "Affect Affordances and the Psychological Effects of Using Social Media," Stanford University, January 15, 2016, 61 minutes.

Watch: Jeff Hancock, "The Future of Lying," Ted Talk, September 2012, 18 minutes.

Thursday, October 22
Third U.S. Presidential Debate
Watch on CSPAN, 9pm ET

Week 7: October 26
Disinformation & Active Measures


Thomas Rid (2020) "Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare," Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York.

Watch: United States Information Agency (1984) Soviet Active Measures, 23 min.

Watch: Operation InfeKtion, New York Times, 2018:
"Meet the KGB Spies who Invented Fake News," 15 min.
"The Seven Commandments of Fake News," 15 min.
"The Worldwide War on Truth," 17 min.

Suzanne Spaulding, Kaleigh Rogers and Jaime Longoria, "Why A Gamer Started A Web Of Disinformation Sites Aimed At Latino Americans," FiveThirtyEight, October 20, 2020.

Herbert Lin, and Jaclyn Kerr, "On Cyber-Enabled Information/Influence Warfare and Manipulation," Oxford Handbook of Cybersecurity, 2018.

Alice Marwick, and Rebecca Lewis, "Media Manipulaiton and Disinformation Onine," Data & Society, 2017.

Suzanne Spaulding, Harvey Rishikof, "How Putin Works to Weaken Faith in the Rule of Law and Our Justice System," Lawfare, September 17, 2018.

Jane Mayer, "How Russia Helped Swing the Election for Trump," The New Yorker, September 24, 2018.

Sheera Frenkel, "Russians Again Targeting Americans With Disinformation, Facebook Says," New York Times, September 1, 2020.

Sheera Frenkel, "A Freelance Writer Learns He Was Working for the Russians," The New York Times, September 2, 2020.

Matthew Rosenberg and Julian E. Barnes, "A Bible Burning, a Russian News Agency and a Story Too Good to Check Out," New York Times, August 12, 2020.

Julian E. Barnes, Nicole Perlroth and David E. Sanger, "Russia Poses Greater Election Threat Than Iran, Many U.S. Officials Say," New York Times, October 22, 2020.

Tom Burt and Eric Horvitz, "New Steps to Combat Disinformation," Microsoft Blog, September 1, 2020.

Watch: Machines + Media Ep 5: The Disinformation Industrial Complex, NYC Media Lab, July 28, 2020, 66 min.

Watch: Isabelle Niu, Kassie Bracken, Alexandra Eaton, Will Lloyd, Yousur Al-Hlou and Aaron Byrd, "How Homegrown Disinformation Could Disrupt This U.S. Election," New York Times, October 25, 2020, 16 min.

Ben Smith, "Trump Had One Last Story to Sell. The Wall Street Journal Wouldn’t Buy It." New York Times, October 25, 2020.

Lizzie Widdicombe, "What Can You Do If Trump Stages a Coup?," New Yorker, October 24, 2020.


Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti, "The Plot to Subvert an Election: Unraveling the Russia Story So Far," New York Times, September 20, 2018.

Explore: Alliance for Securing Democracy, Tracking Russian Influence Operations on Twitter, Website.

Alice Marwick, and Rebecca Lewis, "Media Manipulaiton and Disinformation Onine: Case Studies," Data & Society, 2017.

John Brockmiller, "PSYWAR in Intelligence Operations," CIA Report (SECRET), Declassified September 18, 1995.

Peter Pomerantsev, "Brave New War," The Atlantic, December 29, 2015.

Peter Pomerantsev, "Russia and the Menace of Unreality: How Vladimir Putin is revolutionizing information warfare," The Atlantic, September 9, 2014.

Jill Dougherty, "How the Media Became One of Putin’s Most Powerful Weapons," The Atlantic, April 21, 2015.

Peter Pomerantsev, "Inside the Kremlin's Hall of Mirrors," The Guardian, 9 April 2015.

Emerson T. Brooking, and P. W. Singer, War Goes Viral: How Social Media is being Weaponized Across the World, The Atlantic, October, 2016.

Samatha Power, "Why Foriegn Propaganda is More Dangerous Now," New York Times, September 19, 2017.

Niraj Chokshi, "How to Fight 'Fake News' (Warning: It Isn't Easy)", New York Times, September 18, 2017.

Massimo Calabresi, Inside Russia's Social Media War on America, Time, May 18, 2017.

Ryan Broderick, "A Step-By-Step Guide For How Russian Bots Trick Far-Right Trolls Into Spreading Fake News," BuzzFeed, September 24, 2017.

Watch: "Peter Pomerantsev: The Mechanics of Russia's Information War," YouTube, September 1, 2016, 10 minutes.

Watch: "Peter Pomerantsev: From Information to Disinformation Age - Russia and the Future of Propaganda Wars," YouTube, February 16, 2016, 72 minutes.

Christopher Paul, "Assessing and Evaluating Department of Defense Efforts to Inform, Influence, and Persuade: Worked Example," RAND Report, 2017

Nina Jankowicz, "The Only Way to Defend Against Russia's Information War," New York Times, September 25, 2017.

Daisuke Wakabayashi, and Nicolas Confessore, "Russia's Favored Outlet is an Online News Giant. YouTube Helped." The New York Times, October 23, 2017.

Jim Rutenberg, "RT, Sputnick and Russia's New Theory of War," New York Times Magazine, September 13, 2017.

Sabrina Tavernise and Aidan Gardiner, "'No One Believes Anything': Voters Worn Out by a Fog of Political News," New York Times , November 18, 2019.

Cade Metz, "Internet Companies Prepare to Fight the 'Deepfake' Future," New York Times, November 24, 2019.

Watch: NYTimes The Weekly, Episode 2: "Fake Believe", 2 min. trailer, Full episode on Hulu, 27 mins. (2019)

Paul Ryan, "Cybernetics Guerrila Warfare," Radical Software, 1970.

Week 8: November 2
First Paper/Project Due (no blog post)
Conspiracy Theories & QAnon


Suzy Weiss and Steven Greenstreet, "Coronavirus conspiracy theories don't stop at Bill Gates and 5G," New York Post, April 24, 2020.

Mark Lynas, "5G: What's behind the latest COVID conspiracy theory?," Alliance for Science, Cornell University, April 6, 2020.

Jaron Harambam, "Why we should not treat all conspiracy theories the same," The Conversation, June 11, 2020.

Stephan Lewandowsky and John Cook, The Conspiracy Theory Handbook, March, 2020.

Watch: John Oliver, "COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories," Last Week Tonight, July 19, 2020, 22 min.

Watch: "The Psychology of Why People Believe Conspiracy Theories - Explained by Experts," Channel 4 News, May 31, 2020, 12 min.

Watch: "QAnon: The conspiracy theory spreading fake news," BBC News Night, July 23, 2020, 9 min.

Watch: "What is QAnon? How the conspiracy theory gained traction in 2020 campaign," PBS News Hour, August 12, 2020, 7 min.

"QAnon," Wikipedia.

Adrinne LaFrance, "The Prophecies of Q: American conspiracy theories are entering a dangerous new phase," The Atlantic, June, 2020.

Robert Guffey, "The deep, twisted roots of QAnon: From 1940s sci-fi to 19th-century anti-Masonic agitprop: The QAnon delusions aren't even original: Fantasies about demon-cannibal conspiracies go back at least 150 years," Salon, August 23, 2020.

April Glaser, "YouTube Is Struggling to Deal With the Conspiracy Theory Videos That Flood the Site," Slate, February 26, 2018.

Alexis C. Madrigal, "How YouTube's Algorithm Really Works," The Atlantic, November 8, 2018.

Judd Legum, "Steve Bannon's unhinged version of the Hunter Biden conspiracy reaches millions on YouTube," Popular Information, October 21, 2020.

Max Fisher and Amanda Taub, "How YouTube Radicalized Brazil," The New York Times, August 11, 2019.

Watch: "How YouTube's Algorithm Could Prioritize Conspiracy Theories," Vice News, March 5, 2018, 3 min.

Watch: Frontline, "United States of Conspiracy," PBS, July 28, 2020, 54 min.

Watch: Kirby Ferguson, "What Do We Do About Q?" New York Times, October 26, 2020, 11 min.


Gregory Stanton, "QAnon is a Nazi Cult, Rebranded," Just Security, September 9, 2020.

Watch: Neil DeGrasse Tyson, "Coronavirus & Conspiracy Theories, with Michael Shermer," StarTalk Podcast, July 16, 2020, 48 min.

Keith Collins, and Kevin Roose, "Tracing a Meme From the Internet's Fringe to a Republican Slogan," New York Times, November 4, 2018.

Watch: Jeff Hancock, "Truth, Trustworthiness and Technology in Political Campaigns," ACM, November 6, 2016, 70 minutes.

Tuesday, November 3
U.S. Election Day

Week 9: November 9
Politicizing COVID


Watch: Frontline, "Coronavirus Pandemic," PBS, April 21, 2020, 55 min.

Watch: Frontline, "The Virus: What Went Wrong?," PBS, June 16, 2020, 85 min.

Watch: Sanya Dosani and Chai Dingari, "The Three Rules of Coronavirus Communication," New York Times, September 2, 2020, 8 min.

Meredith Conroy, "Some Americans Are Misinformed About The Coronavirus. How Responsible Is The Media?" FiveThirtyEight, April 20, 2020.

James Ross Gardner, "How the Coronavirus Exacerbated Oregon's Bitter Political Divide," New Yorker, May 28, 2020.

Edward Wong, Matthew Rosenberg and Julian E. Barnes, "Chinese Agents Helped Spread Messages That Sowed Virus Panic in U.S., Officials Say," New York Times, August 23, 2020.

Jennifer Nilsen, "Distributed Amplification: The Plandemic Documentary," MediaManipulation.org, May, 2020.

Katie Rogers and Annie Karni, "Home Alone at the White House: A Sour President, With TV His Constant Companion," New York Times, April 23, 2020.

Jeremy W. Peters, Elaina Plott and Maggie Haberman, "260,000 Words, Full of Self-Praise, From Trump on the Virus," New York Times, April 27, 2020.

Ryan Goodman and Danielle Schulkin, "How Trump and His Team Covered Up the Coronavirus in Five Days," New York Times, April 28, 2020.

Kate Starbird, "How to Cope with an Infodemic," Brookings Institute, April 27, 2020.

Watch: New China TV, "Once Upon a Virus...", April 29, 2020, 2 min.

Charles Duhigg, "Seattle's Leaders Let Scientists Take the Lead. New York's Did Not," The New Yorker, April 26, 2020.

Listen: Joan Donovan and Jeanette Sutton, "COVIDCALLS Communication + Misinformation", May 8, 2020, 66 min.

Listen: Ryan Ellis and Megan Finn, "COVIDCALLS Information Infrastructures in Disaster", May 18, 2020, 66 min.

R. Drew Smith, "The Hidden Structural Racism in the American Response to Public Health Emergencies: Facing a disproportionate death rate among Black people from COVID-19, President Trump shrugs: 'What, me, worry?'" Public Seminar, July 23, 2020.

Jeffrey Wasserstrom and Mark Frazier, "Life and Protest in Hong Kong Amid COVID-19: An Interview with Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Author of Vigil: Hong Kong On The Brink." Public Seminar, March 17, 2020.

Phyllis Dietrichson, "Behind Bars in the Age of Coronavirus: A letter from prison." Public Seminar, June 18, 2020.

Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, Nicole Hemmer, and Neil Young, "COVID-19 and Protective Face Masks: Past Present Podcast, Episode 217." Public Seminar, February 25, 2020.

Alissa G. Karl, "Wages Against Essential Work: Our undervaluation of traditionally female work is coming home to roost." Public Seminar, July 9, 2020.

Tarun Jose Kattumana, "Understanding the Fear of Vaccines: How to talk about public health in the age of COVID." Public Seminar, July 21, 2020.

German Lopez, "Trump usd the RNC to Gaslight America on COVID-19," Vox, August 27, 2020.

Michael Finnegan, "At the RNC, the claims about COVID-19 pandemic do not match reality," Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2020.


Rick Perlstein, "Gerald Ford Rushed Out a Vaccine. It Was a Fiasco.," New York Times, September 2, 2020.

COVID Scholarship and Resources:

Week 10: November 16
Black Lives Matter


Christopher J. Lebron, "The Making of Black Lives Matter: A Brief History of An Idea," book excerpt, Public Seminar, February 8, 2019.

Natasha Lennard, "The Anti-Racist Uprising in Brooklyn: A report from the streets," Public Seminar, June 3, 2020.

Deva Woodly, "Black Lives Matter: The Politics of Race and Movement in the 21st Century: Understanding the movement and what it represents," Public Seminar, January 18, 2016.

Todd Gitlin, "What Will It Take for Black Lives to Matter? Nonviolent, cross-racial coalitions are the way back to a decent America," Public Seminar, July 9, 2020.

Tracy Ma, with Natalie Shutler, written by Jonah Engel Bromwich, video by Shane O'Neill, "Why Protest Tactics Spread Like Memes," New York Times, July 31, 2020.

Isaac Chotiner, "A Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Explains Why This Time Is Different," The New Yorker, June 3, 2020.

Robin Wright, "The Secret Project That Led to Black Lives Matter Murals Coast to Coast," The New Yorker, June 9, 2020.

Jill Lepore, "The Invention of the Police: Why did American policing get so big, so fast? The answer, mainly, is slavery," The New Yorker, July 13, 2020.

William Finnegan, "How Police Unions Fight Reform," The New Yorker, July 7, 2020.

Deva Woodly, "An American Reckoning: The fire this time," Public Seminar, June 4, 2020.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, "Black Insurgency, Anti-Racism, and the Student Mobilization Against Guns: The similarities and differences of these social movements," Public Seminar, March 2, 2019.

Adam Quinn, "How 'Blue Lives Matter' Perpetuates Police Violence: The movement fosters an environment of fear, hatred, and racism," Public Seminar, June 9, 2020.

James Traub, "On Our Revolutionary Moment: Putting today's revolt against institutional racism into historical context," Public Seminar, July 22, 2020.

Watch: Frontline, "Policing the Police," PBS, September 15, 2020, 55 min.

Watch: Ava DuVernay, "13th," Netflix, 2016, 100 min.

Watch: Ava DuVernay, "13th: A Conversation with Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay," Netflix, 2017, 36 min.

Sabrina Tavernise and John Eligon, "Voters Say Black Lives Matter Protests Were Important. They Disagree On Why," New York Times, November 7, 2020.


Watch: Stella Cooper, Evan Hill, Dmitriy Khavin, Arielle Ray and Drew Jordan, "'I Am On Your Side': How the Police Gave Armed Groups a Pass in 2020," New York Times, November 2, 2020, 8 min.

Watch: Aaron Sorkin, "The Trial of the Chicago 7," 2020, 129 min.

Watch: Haskell Wexler, "Medium Cool," 1969, 111 min.

Watch: Errol Morris, "The Thin Blue Line," 1988, 101 min.

Week 11: November 23
The Alt-Right: Charlottesville to Boogaloo


Watch: Deeyah Khan, White Right: Meeting the Enemy, 2017, 55 min.

Watch: Frontline, "Documenting Hate: Charlottesville," PBS, August 7, 2018, 55 min.

Watch: Frontline, "Documenting Hate: The New American Nazis," PBS, November 20, 2018, 55 min.

Whitney Phillips, "The Oxygen of Amplification: Better Practices for Reporting on Extremists, Antagonists, and Manipulators," Data & Society, May 22, 2018.

David Streitfeld, "Where the Trolls Reigned Free: A New History of Reddit," New York Times, October 30, 2018.

Listen: Podcast, "Samantha's Journey Into the Alt-Right, and Back," The New Yorker, November 25, 2019, 39 min.

Jacqui Shine, "Not with a Bang, but a Retweet: The Rise of the Alt-Right,"Los Angeles Review of Books, July 30, 2017.

Jennifer Szalai, "In 'Antisocial', How the Alt-Right Went Viral,"New York Times Book Reviews, October 7, 2019.

Anonymous, "What Happened After My 13-Year-Old Son Joined the Alt-Right: A Washington family's nightmare year,"Washingtonian, May 5, 2019.

Seth Cohen, "Civil War 2.0? The “Boogaloo” Movement Is A Wake-Up Call For America,"Forbes, June 16, 2020.

Lois Beckett, "‘Boogaloo Boi’ charged in fire of Minneapolis police precinct during George Floyd protest,"The Guardian, October 23, 2020.


Kevin Roose, "Cesar Sayoc's Path on Social Media: From Food Photos to Partisan Fury," New York Times, October 27, 2018.

Julia Angwin, Madeleine Varner, and Ariana Tobin, "Facebook Enabled Advertisers to Reach 'Jew Haters'," ProPublica, September 14, 2017.

Week 12: November 30
The Role of Facebook & Twitter


Shoshana Zuboff, "The Big Other: Surveillance Capitalism and the Prospects of an Information Civilization," Journal of Information Technology, 30(1), 2015, pp. 75-89.

Listen: VPRO Documentary, "Shoshana Zuboff on surveillance capitalism," You Tube, December 20, 2019, 50 min.

Watch: Jeff Orlowski, The Social Dilemma NetFlix, 2020, 94 min.

John Lanchester, "You Are the Product," London Review of Books, August 17, 2017.

Antonio Garcia Martinez, "I Helped Create Facebook's Ad Machine. Here's How I'd Fix It," Wired, September 22, 2017.

Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein, "Inside the Two Years that Shook Facebook--And the World," Wired, February 12, 2018.

Evan Osnos, "Can Mark Zuckerberg Fix Facebook Before It Breaks Democracy?," The New Yorker, September 17, 2018.

Craig Silverman, Ryan Mac and Pranav Dixit, "Facebook Is Turning A Blind Eye To Global Political Manipulation, According To This Explosive Secret Memo," BuzzFeed News, September 14, 2020.

Del Harvey, "Help us shape our approach to synthetic and manipulated media," Twitter, November 11, 2019.

James Bridle, "Something is Wrong with the Internet," Medium, November 6, 2017.

K. G. Orphanides, "Children's YouTube is Still Churning Out Blood, Suicide and Cannibalism," Wired, March 23, 2018.

Alex Hern, "Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify Ban Infowars' Alex Jones," The Guardian, August 6, 2018.

Ben Collins, Kevin Poulsen and Spencer Ackerman, "Russia's Facebook Fake News Could Have Reached 70 Million Americans," DailyBeast, September 8, 2017.

Matthew Rosenberg, Jim Rutenberg and Nick Corasaniti, "The Disinformation Is Coming From Inside the White House," New York Times, November 5, 2020.

Sheera Frenkel, "How Misinformation ‘Superspreaders’ Seed False Election Theories," New York Times, November 23, 2020.

Watch: Frontline, "The Facebook Dilemma, Parts 1 & 2," PBS, October, 2018, 55 & 54 min.

Watch: Independent Lens, "The Cleaners," PBS, November 12, 2018, 86 min.

Watch: Sacha Baron Cohen, International Leadership Award Speech to the ADL, November 21, 2019, 25 min.

Watch: Jeff Orlowski, "The Social Dilemma," Netflix, 2020, 94 min.


Watch: Mark Zuckerberg Testimony to House Finance Committee, C-SPAN, October 23, 2019, 5 hours.

Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, Public Affairs, 2018.

Watch: David Fincher, The Social Network, 2010, 120 min.

Week 13: December 7
Fears of Chinese Media: 5G, WeChat and TikTok


Julian E. Barnes and Adam Satariano, "U.S. Campaign to Ban Huawei Overseas Stumbles as Allies Resist," New York Times, March 17, 2019

Herb Lin, "Huawei and Managing 5G Risk," Lawfare, April 3, 2019

Elsa B. Kania, "Securing Our 5G Future: The Competitive Challenge and Considerations for U.S. Policy," Center for New American Security Report, November 07, 2019

Megan DiTrolio, "The Reigning Queen of TikTok," Marie Claire, August 11, 2020

Mike Isaac and Taylor Lorenz, "The Woman Taking Over TikTok at the Toughest Time," New York Times, September 11, 2020

Ryan Holmes, "Is TikTok a Time Bomb?," Fast Company, August 28, 2019

Laurence Dodds, "Inside TikTok Owner's Dystopian Chinese Censorship Machine," The Telegraph, July 12, 2020

Tali Arbel, "Why TikTok, WeChat could be banned from US app stores," Christian Science Monitor, August 7, 2020

Jay Greene, "TikTok's Videos Could Fuel Microsoft's Artificial-Intelligence Ambitions," Seattle Times/Washington Post, August 5, 2020

Louise Matsakis, "Does TikTok Really Pose a Risk to US National Security?," Wired, July 17, 2020

Ann Scott Tyson, "App wars: TikTok Aside, Trump WeChat Ban could be Bigger Deal," Christian Science Monitor, September 2, 2020

Georgia Wells, Jeff Horwitz and Aruna Viswanatha, "Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Stoked Washington's Fears About TikTok," Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2020


Center for New American Security, "Securing our 5G Future". Center for New American Security, "5G Reading List".

Week 14: December 14
No Blog Entry, Work on Final Projects

Hacktivism 2.0


Zeynep Tufecki, Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest, Yale University Press, 2017.

Scott Shane and Daisuke Wakabayashi, "'The Business of War': Google Employees Protest Work for the Pentagon," New York Times, April 4, 2018.

Google Employees, "Letter in Protest of Project Maven," 2018.

Letter From Academic Researchers in Support of Google Employees, "Google should withdraw from Project Maven and commit to not weaponizing its technology," ICRAC, May, 2018.

Lucy Suchman, Lilly Irani and Peter Asaro, "Google's March to the Business of War Must Be Stopped: We stand with thousands of Google employees, demanding an end to its contract with the US Department of Defense," Jacobin, May 16, 2018.

Kate Conger, "Google Employees Resign in Protest Against Pentagon Contract," Gizmodo, May 14, 2018.

Kate Conger, "Google Plans Not to Renew Its Contract for Project Maven, a Controversial Pentagon Drone AI Imaging Program," Gizmodo, June 1, 2018.

Polina Godz, "Tech Workers Versus the Pentagon: An Interview with Kim," Jacobin, June 6, 2018.

Tim Berners-Lee, "I Invented the World Wide Web. This is How We Can Fix It," New York Times, November 25, 2019.

David Golumbia, "Please Consider Supporting Our Legal Challenge to Cambridge Analytica's Role in the Trump Election," Uncomputing.org, October 16, 2017.

David Carroll, "Take Back our Voter Data," CrowdJustice.com

Bellingcat.com, The Home of Online Investigations.

Aric Toler, "Advanced Guide on Verifying Video Content," Bellingcat, June 30, 2017.

Watch: Raha Bahreini,"What Iran Did Not Want You to See," Video Op-ed, New York Times, December 2, 2019, 5 min.

Aric Toler, "Florida Trump Flash Mobs Organized by the Russian "Troll Factory," Bellingcat, September 20, 2017.


Yasmin Gagne, "How we fought our landlord's secretive plan for facial recognition-and won," Fast Comany, November 22, 2019.

Annalee Newitz, "A Better Social Media World Is Waiting for Us," New York Times, December 1, 2019.


Watch: Frontline (2011) Revolution in Cairo, PBS, 60 min.

Philip N. Howard (2011) "Digital media and the Arab spring," Reuters, February 16, 2011.

Philip N. Howard (2010) "#IranElection: Inside the cyberwar for Iran's future." Miller-McCune Magazine. January-February 2010. pp. 28-33.

Jennifer Preston and Brian Stelter (2011) "Cellphones Become the World's Eyes and Ears on Protests," New York Times, February 18, 2011.

December 18
Final Paper/Projects Due by 8pm ET, Friday December 18. (no blog post this week)