Course Offering:

Todd S. Purdum

Spring 2022 Fellow, Center for the Political Future

Todd S. Purdum recently wrote for The Atlantic as a staff writer and California correspondent covering politics and culture. He has also been senior writer at POLITICO and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. He was formerly with The New York Times, where he worked for 23 years, covering politics from city hall to the White House. He also served as diplomatic correspondent and Los Angeles bureau chief. During the 2016 presidential election, Purdum wrote extensively about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and the legacy of Barack Obama. He has also written several books. His most recent work is Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution (2018), a revelatory portrait of the creative partnership of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II that transformed musical theater and provided the soundtrack to the American Century.

Purdum is a native of Macomb, Illinois, and a graduate of Princeton University. He is the author of the book An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and he is currently writing a biography of Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Dee Dee Myers, the former Clinton White House Press Secretary and former Executive Vice President and Director of Worldwide Corporate Communications and Public Affairs at Warner Bros, and their two children.

Course Offering: Media and Message: Great Races from the Senate to the White House
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2 p.m. - 3:20 p.m. PT

This course was designed and taught by Robert Shrum, the veteran Democratic political strategist and speechwriter. This semester, it will be taught from the perspective of a veteran political journalist and author. The course covers the modern era of American political campaigns, focusing on the interrelationship of media coverage, paid advertising and candidate strategy and messaging.

Through lectures, class discussion and extensive video clips, the course seeks to give students a genuine sense of what happened in each of the campaigns we examine, aiming to be analytic while also conveying a human feel for events as they unfolded -- and for the candidates as they were perceived, wished to project themselves, and were characterized by their opponents. We will focus on presidential campaigns from 1960 to 2016, along with a series of statewide contests – for example, the politics of cultural connection that enabled Barbara Mikulski to be the first Democratic woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate on her own; the striking 1994 battle for the Senate between Ted Kennedy and Mitt Romney; and the instant political stardom of the trial lawyer John Edwards when he defeated an incumbent Senator in North Carolina in 1998.

We will draw on a rich trove of film, ads, debates and polling data since 1960 – and consider whether and how “old” media is being supplemented and even supplanted by social media. From time to time, we may have guest lecturers -- from the media and politics -- who were involved in the campaigns under consideration.