2019 Conference

2019 Conference Image

 Character Assassination and Reputation Politics (CARP) Research Lab hosted its second international conference “Character Assassination and Populism: Challenges and Responses” on March 15-17, 2019.

One primary characteristic of today’s global society is the growing public distrust in many traditional authorities. In the context of institutional legitimacy crisis, there is a great demand for new voices to trust. These changes provide opportunities for populists and charismatic opinion leaders of all kinds to promote their agendas and influence public opinion. Populist politicians often become primary newsmakers for clickbait content in the media that proliferates personal opinions, falsehoods, and unwarranted ad hominem attacks. Belligerent rhetoric also normalizes the culture of incivility which has negative consequences for civil debate in a well-functioning democracy.

Download Full 2019 Schedule

Friday, March 15




FRIDAY, March 15

5 p.m.-7 p.m.

Founders Hall 126

Welcome reception sponsored by

Mason’s College of Social Sciences

and Humanities

All registered participants are invited to attend

7 p.m.

Participants who wish to continue networking are welcome to join us at a location to be determined



Saturday, March 16

Founders Hall 126


8:00 - 8:45 a.m.


Catered breakfast and



Welcome message

All registered conference presenters are invited to attend

Anne Nicotera (George Mason U), Chair, Department of Communication

9:00 - 10:15 a.m.

Panel One:

Advancing Interdisciplinary CA Research

Eric Shiraev (George Mason U), CA in Political Psychology

Martijn Icks (U of Amsterdam, the Netherlands), CA in History

Sergei Samoilenko (George Mason U), CA Research: Moving Towards a Socio-Cultural Perspective

Jennifer Keohane (U of Baltimore), "I'm Gonna Get me a Beer": Character, Gender, and Communicating Authenticity

10:15 - 11:30 a.m.

Panel Two:

Labeling and Naming in the Age of Polarization and Social Conflict


Sergei Samoilenko (George Mason U)


Solon Simmons (George Mason U), Which Villains, Which Victims? A Root Narrative Approach to the Concept of Character Assassination

Daniel Rothbart (George Mason U), Government-Sponsored Denigration of Marginalized Group

Greg Simons (Uppsala U, Sweden & Turiba U, Latvia), Character Assassination and Obstructive Marketing: The Case of the ‘Deplorables’ and the ‘Snowflakes’

Marlene Laruelle (George Washington U), Populists and their “Character”: Mutual Character Assassination of and from European Populist Leaders

11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.

Panel Three:

Popular CA Research Books

Moderator: TBD


Jennifer Keohane (U of Baltimore), Communist Rhetoric and Feminist Voices in Cold War America

Colleen Kelley (Penn State Erie, The Behrend College), A Rhetoric of Divisive Partisanship: The 2016 American Presidential Campaign Discourse of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump

Stephen J. Farnsworth (U of Mary Washington), Presidential Communication and Character: White House News Management from Clinton and Cable to Twitter and Trump

Robert S. Lichter (George Mason U), Politics Is a Joke!: How TV Comedians Are Remaking Political Life

Karina V. Korostelina (George Mason U), Political Insults: How Offenses Escalate

12:45 - 1:30 p.m.


Catered lunch provided for conference participants

1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

Keynote Address

Shawn Turner, President of MPACT Communication, Professor of Strategic Communication at Michigan State University

2:30 - 3:45 p.m.

Panel Four:

Political Character, Populism, and the Future of Media



Richard Sheehe, Mason Senior Research Fellow and Senior Strategist, The Merritt Group 


Salena Zito, CNN Contributor and National Political Reporter, Washington Examiner

Jeremy Mayer (George Mason U), Associate Professor, The Schar School of Policy and Government

Stephen J. Farnsworth (U of Mary Washington), Director, Center for Leadership and Media Studies

4:00 - 5:15 p.m.

Panel Five:

Strategic Communication Campaigns in the Age of Social Media.



Nancy Snow (Kyoto U of Foreign Studies, Japan), Professor Emeritus California State U, Fullerton; Pax Mundi Professor of Public Diplomacy

Maj. Gen. Mari K. Eder, US Army (Ret.), President & CEO, Benson’s ReView, LLC and Commander (Fmr.), Joint and Special Troops Support Command

Monica Enqvist, Head of Press, Communication and Culture Department at Embassy of Sweden

John Rendon, President & CEO, The Rendon Group.

6:45 p.m.

Dinner at Oz Restaurant & Bar, 2950 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington, VA





Sunday, March 17

Founders Hall 126

8:00 - 9:00 a.m.



Catered breakfast and




All registered presenters are invited to attend


9:00 - 10:15 a.m.

Panel One:

CA in Ancient History

Martijn Icks (U of Amsterdam, the Netherlands), "Populist bashing in ancient Athens: Aristophanes versus Cleon"

Florian Krüpe (Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany), Phrynichos’ Fall of Miletus: How to stage a scandal.

Loïc Thibaut Borgies (Université Libre de Bruxelles, ULB, Belgium), The Political Leaders and the Crowd during the Last Roman Civil Wars (44-30 BC)

Nadja Gernalzick (U of Vienna, Austria), Undoing Character in Auto/Biography: Heinrich Schliemann, Archaeology and Posterity

10:15 - 11:30 a.m.

Panel Two (A):

CA and Strategic Communication


Greg Simons (Uppsala U, Sweden & Turiba U, Latvia)


Josh Compton (Dartmouth College), Inoculation Theory, Source Derogation, and Media Credibility

Athanassios Samaras & Athina Limnioudi (U of Piraeus, Greece), Character Assassination” Label as a Character Assassination Technique 

Rod Carveth (Morgan State U), Ritual Defamation at Google

Vincent Hazleton (Independent Scholar), Applying a Theory of Public Relations to the study of Character Assassination: Considering Goals, Goal Compatibility, and Symbolic Forms of Capital

10:15-11:30 a.m.

Panel Two (B):

CA in American History


Eric Shiraev (George Mason U)


Edwina Hagen (U of Amsterdam, the Netherlands), The Use of CA by van der Capellen during the American Revolution

Lynn Uzzell (U of Virginia), Is it Possible to Assassinate a Character Which Succumbed to Suicide? The Case of Charles Pinckney and James Madison

Hendrik Michael (Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg, Germany), Character Assassination and Product-Branding in the 1830s Newspaper War between James G. Bennett and James W. Webb

Mikayla Knutson (Rice U), Thomas Jefferson: A Case Study in Evolving Character Assassination

Emily L. Blout (U of Virginia), CA and "Unite the Right rally" in Charlottesville

11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.

Panel Three (A):

CA in State-Run Campaigns

Moderator: TBD


Svetlana Stephenson (London Metropolitan U), The rituals of public shaming in the late Soviet Union

Berkay Gülen (U of Washington), “Why Do You Call Me ‘Mon Cher’”? A Decade-Long Distrust between the Ruling Party and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Turkey

Zi Yang (Nanyang Technological U, Singapore), Character Assassination and the Contemporary Anti-corruption Campaign in the Chinese Military

Sergey Davydov (Academy of Media Industry, Moscow, Russia) & Alina Eremina (National Research U “Higher School of Economics,” Moscow, Russia), Not a Sex Scandal: Deripaska/Rybka case

11:30 a.m. -12:45 p.m.

Panel Three (B):

CA in Rhetorical Studies

Moderator: Jennifer Keohane (U of Baltimore)


Star A. Muir (George Mason U), Memes, Perspective by Incongruity, and Casuistic Stretching: Repetition, Variation, Distortion and Public Character.

Leslie J. Reynard (Washburn U),

Rate This Lawsuit.Com: A Reflection on Social Media Defamation and a Discussion of Possible Remedies

Amy Louise Schumacher-Rutherford (U of Kansas), Uncivil Attacks and Support for Free Speech

Gbenga Dasylva (George Mason U), Ideological Mutations in the American Narrative Space: A Constructivist Interpretation

12:45 - 1:45 p.m.


Catered lunch provided for conference participants

1:45 - 3:00 p.m.

Panel Four (A):

CA and Political Communication



Rod Carveth (Morgan State U)


Martina Klicperova-Baker, Josef Hejny, Vaclav Hejny, & Daniel Wagner, (Institute for Democracy 21, & the Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic), Us and Them: National polarizations and character insults

Ekaterina Egorova (Political Profiler, US), CA as revenge in international relations

Karel Janecek & Petr Bouska, Jan Oresky (Institute for Democracy 21, Czech Republic), From divisions to consensus - the Janecek Voting Method

Nino Rusidze (Corvinus U of Budapest, Hungary), Presidential elections and character assassination – Case of Georgia

1:45 - 3:00 p.m.

Panel Four (B):

CA in Trump’s America

Moderator: Emily L. Blout (U of Virginia)


Dean Kazoleas (California State U, Fullerton), Reputational Cross-Fire: Conservatives on College Campuses in the Age of ANTIFA and the Radical Left

Farah Latif (George Mason U), Lesson Learned from How “Climate Barbie” Saved the Climate Change Science

Andrey Miroshnichenko (U of Toronto, Canada), Political Economy of Character Assassination: How Attacks on Trump in the Media Benefit Trump and the Media

Josh Compton & Michael Parsons (Dartmouth College), Image Attacks, Image Repair, and Rhetorical Pivots: Trump’s Image Repair Effort after Attacks for Mocking a Journalist’s Disability

John Cook & Sergei Samoilenko (George Mason U), Character Assassination in Climate Misinformation

4:00 - 5:15p.m.

Panel Five (A):

Cross-Cultural CA Dynamics


Farah Latif (George Mason U)


Irina Tsukerman (Independent Researcher), Qatar’s Use of Hacking and Mass Media to Assassinate Characters of Rivals and to Shut Down Criticism: Implications for Reputation Management

Forson Isaac Adjej (Kwame Nkrumah U of Science and Technology, Ghana), Towards a Typology of CA in Ghanaian Politics: A Case Study of the 2016 Presidential Election

Kanwalpreet Kaur (D.A.V. College, India), The Rhetoric of hitting below the belt - A case study of India

Neofytos Aspriadis & Samaras N. Athanassios (U of Piraeus, Greece), Character Assassination and International Relations: In Search for Causal Inferences in the Image Theory

4:00 - 5:15p.m.

Panel Five (B):

Cross-Cultural CA Dynamics II

Moderator: TBD


Aisha Siddiqa Siddique (U of Central Punjab, Pakistan), Polarization of opinions: An Assessment of Social Networking Sites Users of Two Leading Political Parties PML (N) and PTI

David Malitz (Chulalongkorn U, Thailand), Theravada Ideas in the Thai Political Discourse: The Use and Power of Character Assassinations in Present-Day Thailand

Sangeeta Mahapatra (German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Germany), Online Extremism and the Politics of Polarisation in India: Linking Hate Speeches to Violence

6:45 p.m.

Participants who wish to continue networking are welcome to join us at a location to be determined