News and Analysis



Speaker Paul Ryan spoke at the Jack Morton Auditorium as part of a CNN town hall Thursday evening. Madeline Cook | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Speaker Paul Ryan spoke at the Jack Morton Auditorium as part of a CNN town hall Thursday evening. Madeleine Cook | Hatchet Staff Photographer

House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke about topics like health care, immigration and trade deals to a full audience at Jack Morton Auditorium and to viewers across the country during a CNN town hall Thursday evening.

Ryan, who was targeted throughout the past election cycle by President-elect Donald Trump, talked at the event about Trump’s priorities and how he and other Republican leaders were already working with the incoming presidential administration to get projects rolling before inauguration.

Jake Tapper, the chief Washington correspondent at CNN, led the discussion with Ryan who answered questions from the audience.

Missed the broadcast? Here are some of the biggest takeaways:

1. Health care, health care, health care

The first third of the town hall featured questions about health care, which were particularly relevant as the House of Representatives had voted to begin dismantling the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, the night before.

Jeff Jeans, a cancer survivor from Sedona, Az. who said he would have died without assistance from the health care law, asked Ryan why he and other Republicans wanted to repeal the law without offering a replacement.

Ryan said the process of repealing the law would happen at the same time that lawmakers introduced a new health care law that would provide citizens with tax credits to purchase plans.

“The law is collapsing and so we’ve got to rescue people,” he said, citing rising premiums in states like Jean’s home state of Arizona and Texas.

Shannon Doe, a GW student, asked Ryan about the impact of defunding Planned Parenthood, which Republicans have threatened to do over the years, and how they would replace the services that women use at the centers.

Ryan said he would instead support instituting federal community health centers because Planned Parenthood is too controversial for performing abortions, even after Tapper pointed out that tax dollars don’t fund abortions.

“We don’t want to effectively give taxpayer money to an organization providing abortions,” Ryan said, claiming that even though the dollars wouldn’t go directly to abortions, the funds could impact the services indirectly.

2. Two sides of immigration

Mary Anne Mendoza, who lost her son in a head-on collision with an undocumented man who was found to be using drugs at the time, asked Ryan how he would work to deport undocumented criminals and build the wall between the U.S. and Mexico that Trump famously campaigned on.

Ryan said he and others are already working with Trump’s team on those projects and condemned sanctuary cities, cities where leaders have promised to assist and protect undocumented residents. D.C. is a sanctuary city.

“Sanctuary cities are a violation of the rule of law, and they are not to be tolerated,” he said. “That means if you want federal assistance, you’re not going to get it. You’ve got to enforce the law.”

Angelic Villalobos, an undocumented immigrant who moved to the U.S. as a child and is currently protected from deportation by a law designed to protect undocumented residents who came to the U.S. as children, asked Ryan if he wanted to deport immigrants like her.

Ryan said that as he and others worked on immigration laws, they would protect those currently shielded by the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, but did not provide specifics on how they would do so.

“What we have to do is figure out how to have a humane solution to this very legitimate, sincere problem and respect the rule of law,” he said.

3. Tweeter-in-chief

The final question from the audience came from Christine Ford, a GW student who asked how Trump’s tweeting habits could impact his policies and the U.S.’s reputation internationally.

Ryan said that Trump’s use of Twitter was “extremely effective for getting elected president” and that while he does expect Trump to continue to use the platform, he thinks the president will become more restrained.

“I am just marveled and amazed how well he connected with so many people,” Ryan said. “I think he has a very special, personal relationship with individuals and he connects directly with them.”

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., spoke about the future of the Democratic party at a CNN town hall in Jack Morton Auditorium Monday. Lisa Blitstein | Hatchet Photographer

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., spoke about the future of the Democratic party at a CNN town hall in Jack Morton Auditorium Monday. Lisa Blitstein | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by reporter Joshua Porter.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., participated in a CNN town hall with reporter Chris Cuomo at the Jack Morton Auditorium Monday night. The town hall, which was broadcast live, focused on congressional priorities in light of an impending Donald Trump presidency.

Sanders offered broad strategies for the Democratic Party during the new administration and addressed audience members’ concerns for the future.

Here are the big takeaways:

Compromising with Trump

Sanders urged fellow Democrats against unilateral obstruction during the Trump administration, while still acknowledging characteristics of Trump’s campaign which Democrats should guard against.

“I will tell you this: He ran a campaign whose cornerstone was bigotry,” he said. “It was based on sexism, on racism, on xenophobia, and on that issue, I will not compromise.”

After criticizing Republicans for blocking President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme court, Sanders suggested some Democrats may use a similar strategy toward the GOP. Still, he urged bipartisan cooperation when possible.

“Where Trump has ideas that make sense that we can work with him on, I think we should,” he said.

The future of Obamacare

Sanders, who ran his 2016 presidential campaign on free education and free healthcare, noted that the U.S. is one of the only major countries not guarantee health care as a right. Saying that it was time the U.S. government provide free health care, Sanders said that initial efforts like the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, would need to be tweaked over time in order to be successful.

Jessica Karabian, an audience member who relies on Obamacare to cover treatments for breast cancer, asked Sanders how he will make sure that the life-saving components of the Affordable Care Act remain.

“We are going to do everything we can to improve the Affordable Care Act. It has problems, but we damn well are not going to repeal it and not have anything there at all,” Sanders said.

The influence of trade

Sanders said that trade policy is one area of potential compromise between progressives and the Trump administration. Both Sanders and Trump have criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement and said they opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the 2016 campaign.

Ed Mash, a former Ohio corrections officer, asked Sanders how he will work with Trump to promote growth in areas like Ohio. Sanders pointed to international trade agreements.

“The issue is that for the last 30 years, under Democratic and Republican administrations, we have had trade policies like NAFTA and CAFTA and permanent relationships with China,” Sanders said.

Sanders voted against NAFTA and CAFTA in the past, saying that such agreements benefit multinational corporations rather than the American working class by outsourcing jobs to nations with low or nonexistent labor regulations and cheap manufacturing costs. Sanders said he believes in fair trade, not unfettered free trade.

“I believe we need a new trade policy. I believe we tell corporate America they’ve got to control their greed,” Sanders said. “Mr. Trump is prepared to sit down and work on a new trade policy which is based on fairness, not just on corporate greed, yes, I will be happy to work with him.”

Plans for immigration reform

Sanders highlighted his hopes for immigration reform that would give undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship and access to health care under the Affordable Care Act.

Jenny Gutierrez, a high school teacher from Maryland, and Osama Alsaleh, a GW student, asked Sanders about the future of immigrants and their children under the upcoming Trump administration and Republican-controlled Congress.

In response, Sanders noted Democrats’ commitment to protecting immigrants as well as undocumented immigrants during the next administration.

“To see a man elected president who campaigned on dividing us up, turning us against each other. Your beautiful students should not be afraid. Young Muslim kids should not be afraid to walk the streets,” he said. “That is not what this country is about.”

Sanders added that diversity is what makes the country thrive.

“We must judge people on who they are, not where their grandfather came from or their religion,” Sanders said. “This is a principle we have to fight for.”

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Nancy Pelosi spoke at the Jack Morton Auditorium Tuesday morning. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Nancy Pelosi spoke at the Jack Morton Auditorium Tuesday morning. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Pim Anukularmphai.

House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi discussed her experience in governing Tuesday afternoon in the Jack Morton Auditorium.

Just hours before the discussion, congressional leaders reached a tentative budget deal for the next year. Pelosi said the first word that came to mind was “hurray!” because the budget maintains current allocations for disabilities and Medicare spending, and equally divides defense and domestic expenditures.

“Our strength is measured in the education and innovation of our people,” she said.

School of Media and Public Affairs Director Frank Sesno, a former White House and CNN correspondent, moderated the conversation.

Couldn’t skip class for the event? Here’s what you missed:

1. What’s in it for me?

In a discussion about the polls for the 2016 presidential election, Pelosi said Americans will vote for who they believe can “end the inequality in our system.”

“At the end of the day, it’s all personal. We’re asking ourselves, ‘what does this mean for me?'” she said, in regard to choosing whether or not to support a candidate’s politics.

Pelosi gave a nod to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when Senso asked what the elections mean for Pelosi.

“I will be happy to relinquish my title as the highest ranking woman in America,” Pelosi said.

2. Climate change is everyone’s responsibility

Pelosi said every nation should “do what they can” to be proactive about environmental issues.

She said the responsibility has fallen on third-world countries, which are disproportionately impacted by global warming, to prepare for higher tides, temperatures and volatile weather, but Pelosi said she wants to change that.

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will be held later this month in Paris, Pelosi said she would advocate for environmental legislation that would not be “just pretty words” but have the “force of law” behind it.

3. Social media increases transparency

Pelosi said social media has given the public greater access to politics, which she said has increased transparency within the political process.

Referring to the fact that the public was informed of the budget’s passing within minutes Monday night, Sesno asked Pelosi how the role of social media has impacted politics.

“People knew what was going on because they were paying attention,” she said.

Sesno also asked if Pelosi supports Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who she said has been a transparent political figure in his bid for Speaker of the House.

“I have the institution’s back,” she said.

Pelosi commended Ryan’s support of the latest budget proposal and his criticism of the House Freedom Caucus, a conservative group of congressmen, which she said would give Ryan “running room” with the Democrats in his campaign for Speaker of the House.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Monday, Aug. 17, 2015 1:32 p.m.

Alumna named CNN chief political correspondent

Dana Bash

Dana Bash spoke to students and parents during Colonials Weekend in 2009. Hatchet file photo.

One of the School of Media and Public Affairs’ most prominent alumni has risen to become CNN’s chief political correspondent, Variety reported Monday.

Dana Bash, a 1993 alumna, will fill the position that has been open at CNN since December, when Candy Crowley left the network after 27 years. Bash had previously served as CNN’s chief congressional correspondent, covering news in the U.S. House and Senate, according to her CNN biography page.

Bash has visited campus a few times since receiving her bachelor’s degree in political communication, most recently in October 2011 when she was part of a panel discussion about covering politics. She also spoke at Colonials Weekend in 2009 to talk about her career in journalism.

Bash has won awards including the Dirksen Award from the National Press Foundation in 2010 for her work at CNN, her CNN biography page reads. She has covered the U.S. Congress since 2006 with the network and also helped to produce “Late Edition with Frank Sesno,” the weekend show hosted by the SMPA director.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Chuck Todd is one of five new members added to the National Council for Media and Public Affairs. He and other members will help advise SMPA director Frank Sesno, pictured here at a 2011 event with Todd. Hatchet File Photo

Chuck Todd is one of five new members to join the School of Media and Public Affairs’ advisory council. He will help advise SMPA Director Frank Sesno, pictured here at a 2011 event with Todd. Hatchet File Photo

Updated: Oct. 27, 2014 at 2:45 p.m.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Aishvarya Kavi.

Chuck Todd’s latest addition to his résumé is no longer hosting “Meet the Press.”

Todd is one of five leaders in media and communications who will serve a three-year term on the School of Media and Public Affairs’ advisory council, officials announced this week.

“National Council members are integral to our school,” Frank Sesno, the school’s director, said in a release. “These new members reflect an effort to bring dynamic, accomplished professionals who are experts in media and politics and dedicated to SMPA’s mission of providing relevant and innovative experiences for our students.”

CNN D.C. Bureau Chief Sam Feist, alumna Susan Smirnoff, political pollster Cornell Belcher and SMPA parent and New Jersey community leader Charles Minton will also join the board.

Todd attended GW starting in 1990, but left in 1994 without completing his degree. He joins the now 20-member board that advises Sesno on strategic decisions for the University’s media school.

Smirnoff previously served on the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences’ advisory council for 15 years, in addition to her work as a public relations consultant.

The newest members are added as SMPA looks to change its curriculum and implement those changes next year.

This post was updated to reflect the following corrections:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported Sam Feist’s first name. It is Sam, not Dan. The Hatchet also incorrectly reported that Todd and Feist are the only journalists on the council. Reena Ninan, an alumna and correspondent at ABC News, is also a member. The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the council signs off on strategic decisions and approves curriculum changes. The council is an advisory group. We regret these errors.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Updated: Oct. 17 at 4:54 p.m.

A nurse who was infected with Ebola in Texas will be moved to Bethesda for treatment, CNN reported.

Nina Pham, one of two nurses who contracted the disease in Dallas, could be moved to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda as soon as Thursday, a federal official told NBC News. Bethesda is about a half-hour drive from D.C.and has its own stop on the Red Line.

The NIH is one of four facilities in the country equipped to treat Ebola. Another nurse in Dallas, who was also infected after treating the patient who died last week, was moved to the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for treatment.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
Due to an editing error, The Hatchet incorrectly reported that one of the nurses in Dallas had died last week. The patient had died last week. We regret this error.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Carson Rolleri

GW’s face of media education could soon become CNN’s face of media criticism.

Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, hosted "Reliable Sources" last week and could be in line for a permanent hosting job. Hatchet File Photo

Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, hosted “Reliable Sources” last week and could be in line for a permanent hosting job. Hatchet File Photo

Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, is a top contender to take over as permanent host for of “Reliable Sources,” Politico reported last week.

Sesno guest hosted CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday for the second time, focusing on how the media dealt with the government shutdown and the health care debate.

He’s unpaid for the gig, as are the rest of the temporary “Reliable Sources” hosts, like the New York Times’ Brian Stelter. The Sunday show – a weekend staple for the cable network – has been without a permanent host since Howard Kurtz left in June.

“For now, I’m hosting one program at a time and trying to craft the best conversation possible,” Sesno told The Hatchet.

But a permanent slot could make sense. Sesno is going on sabbatical next semester to work on a book, and Politico reported that the “Reliable Sources” host could keep other professional obligations, as Kurtz did.

The Hatchet talked to Sesno, a former CNN Washington bureau chief, about the behind-the-scenes process and how scripts are like handcuffs.

Hatchet: What attracted you to “Reliable Sources”?

Sesno: It’s a critical program for CNN and it’s a vital program for the public. The media spends its time scrutinizing every system in the world. And this show allows us to spend some time scrutinizing the media. This is a very important and very interesting program that gives media the opportunity to hold up both a magnifying glass and act as a mirror. And the media owes the public that degree of explanation and accountability.

Hatchet: How did you get involved with the show?

Sesno: I have been involved with CNN for a long time and I had been over there before as a panelist. I’m now doing it because of my current association with GW and my fascination and knowledge of media. I have had the pleasure and the privilege of doing a lot of things in the news business. I also have a deep appreciation for different types of journalism, the role of journalism, and the different implications and shortcomings of journalism. I love the show and I love doing the show because I know that people are fascinated, provoked, outraged, inspired, and informed by the media they consume. This is how people understand their world.

Hatchet: What is prep work like?

Sesno: I speak with several of the guests, and I look at what other guests have written and done. I talk to other people in the business and think about how I want to approach certain things. I use my own judgment, curiosity, and sense of news to figure out what is topical. CNN has a tremendous, permanent production team that works on the show and I kick around ideas with them. We start early in the week where I send them a memo with several bullet points, and the producers send me one back with their responses and ideas. There’s a lot of back and forth with the background for the production team, a brainstorming stew early in the week.

Then, we start thinking about who guests might be and who could really round out some of these issues. We start thinking about who would be available, who would be a fascinating person to hear from, or who would have a really interesting point of view on something. So for this week we are doing something very unusual and we are booking a member of Congress.

Hatchet: How do you approach your interview questions?

Sesno: I don’t script questions because then they sound like they are scripted. And they also are like handcuffs. If you’re interviewing somebody you have to know the topic well enough, you have to listen very carefully, you have to act with instinct, and the last thing you want to do is work off a script.

  • Permalink
  • Comments (1)

Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, will host “Reliable Sources” on CNN this Sunday. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Amelia Williams

The director of the School of Media and Public Affairs will host CNN’s “Reliable Sources” this Sunday.

Frank Sesno, who spent 20 years as a CNN anchor before joining the GW faculty, will moderate the program as it seeks a long-term host.

The show, which airs lives at 11 a.m. from D.C., analyzes the week’s news coverage and often interviews journalists who broke the biggest stories. Its longtime host, Howard Kurtz, recently left the network for a job at Fox News.

New York Times reporter Brian Stelter, who covers television and digital media, also recently said he would host an episode in August.

Sesno, who has been the director since 2009, plans to take a sabbatical from SMPA next spring.

  • Permalink
  • Comments (2)
Wednesday, June 26, 2013 11:39 p.m.

‘Crossfire’ will not return to GW

The political debate show “Crossfire,” which aired on CNN from the Jack Morton Auditorium, will return to television this fall, but not at GW, the network announced Tuesday.

Broadcast from the Media and Public Affairs building from 2002 until it went off air in 2005, “Crossfire” was a key selling point for the University, which touted opportunities for students to work on set. .

But CNN spokesman Edie Emery said the show would be televised from its own studio in the Washington bureau.

The show was cancelled shortly after Jon Stewart, host of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, criticized the then-hosts for fueling partisanship in politics in an on-air interview.

The revived show will feature a new cast of conservative and liberal commentators, including former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, joined by fellow conservative S.E. Cupp, a columnist who co-anchors “The Cycle” on MSNBC. The two will face off against Stephanie Cutter, the former deputy campaign manager to President Barack Obama, and Van Jones, a former adviser to Obama.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Thursday, March 28, 2013 12:34 p.m.

Alumna named CNN morning host

CNN congressional correspondent and GW alumna Kate Bolduan will become the new face of the network’s mornings this spring.

A graduate of the School of Media and Public Affairs, Bolduan will head to New York to join her co-host to-be Christopher Cuomo, who left ABC in January.

A 6-year CNN veteran, Bolduan’s show will replace Soledad O’Brien’s “Starting Point” at 7 a.m. as the network seeks to revamp its image and increase viewership under the new leadership of Jeff Zucker as CNN Worldwide President.

Prior to joining CNN, Bolduan served as a local news reporter in Raleigh, N.C.

Bolduan graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 2005 with a bachelor’s in journalism. While at GW, Bolduan also played for GW’s volleyball team as a walk-on.

  • Permalink
  • Comments