Media, Politics and Democracy: From the US Colonial Days, to the 2020 Elections and the January 6, 2021 Insurrection

Wednesday, Jul 28, 2021
From 11:50am to 1:15pm Eastern Time

Virtual Event

Contact: AARP Virginia

Media, Politics and Democracy -- From the US Colonial Days, to the 2020 Elections and the January 6, 2021 Insurrection

When the 13 US Colonies decided they would form a new, united government, they did not want to imitate Britain’s monarchial policy of Prior Restraint. Under that concept, the King alone decides what will be published. It is a form of censorship. To prevent that, the new country gave the citizens protections for free speech, including the Declaration of Independence, the US Bill of Rights and the First Amendment to protect a free press and free speech.  But from 1786 on, these two issues challenged politicians and the public.  This lecture explores the expanding contemporary context of free speech beyond newspapers, magazines, radio and TV, into the realm of social media, websites and digital platforms. The Courts and Congress have also jumped into the fray, along with politicians, lobbyists, White Supremacists. QAnon supporters, and media purveyors of deliberate misinformation and disinformation.  This is not a new problem, but the massive megaphone of blogs, bytes and a lack of verification of some of the data are---and it creates confusion, distortion, mayhem, and, as we saw firsthand on Jan.6, riots, destruction, deaths and injuries. The lecture is to put the concepts of Media, Politics and Democracy into context, and to show them not as contradictory forces, but as dynamic and changing forces.

Kathleen Burns has been an OLLI lecturer and contributor since 2009. Among the topics she presented for courses are: Diplomacy at Risk; South Africa, from Apartheid to Democracy; Using Drones to Cover the News; the Changing Face of the Arctic; and New Mexico---Past, Present and Future. She is a past president of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and a mediator in Virginia Courts.

Join AARP Virginia for a complimentary class offered by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at George Mason University (OLLI-Mason). OLLI-Mason provides intellectual and cultural experiences in a welcoming atmosphere to Northern Virginia residents in their retirement years. AARP Virginia is excited to collaborate with them to provide a sampling of their Summer semester!

Sign up for one, two, or all complimentary classes at To learn more about OLLI-Mason, visit


Please note that AARP will email you the link to the OLLI Mason Zoom platform on which the event will be hosted. You will receive a Zoom link to attend this class 24 hours prior to the class beginning. Do not opt-out of receiving emails as you will not get the Zoom link. Any information you share on that online platform will be governed by the privacy policy of OLLI Mason.

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