The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is offering journalism students the chance to study how the president deals with the media in a course called “Trumpaganda.”
The eight-week course “Trumpaganda: The war on facts, press and democracy” will look into Donald Trump’s “disinformation campaign” and his attacks on the mainstream media, examining what the implications are for American democracy and a free press.
During the course, students will be discussing how during his 2016 election campaign, Trump used “the most common propaganda device” of name-calling against his opponents in order to “define, degrade, discredit and destroy” them, as well as his constant use of the term “fake news” and describing journalists as the “enemies of the people,” according to the university’s course description.
“Previous American administrations have had a contentious relationship with the news media, but the Trump administration’s conflict with the press is different in strategies and tactics, challenging Americans’ tendency to think of propaganda as something that doesn’t happen in democratic societies,” the description added.
“Propaganda is effective only if it is concealed and camouflaged as something else, such as news, advertisements or PR releases, and it is critical to learn how to detect propaganda and recognize propagandistic features of any communication, including presidential,” the course teacher, Mira Sotirovic, associate professor in media at the university, told The Daily Illini.
Stephanie Craft, head of the journalism department, is encouraging all students to take up the course to better understand how the Trump administration deals with the press.
“This particular course is the first of what we hope will be a series of what we’re thinking as pop-up courses, where we’re trying to identify things that are very in the news and build an eight-week course around it that would be of interest to the broader University community, not just journalism majors,” Craft said.
Elise Guillen, freshman at the univesity’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, told The Daily Illinois that she is interested in taking the course. “Although I’m not the biggest fan of Trump, it’s important to know what the president is doing and how we, as Americans, are influenced and even portrayed with things like his tweets,” she said.
Recently, Trump has used his Twitter account to claim demonstrators who took to Capitol Hill to protest against the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh were crisis actors who had their placards “paid for by [George] Soros and others,” without providing any evidence.
He doubled down on the claim in a follow-up tweet on Tuesday October 9. “The paid D.C. protesters are now ready to REALLY protest because they haven’t gotten their checks—in other words, they weren’t paid! Screamers in Congress, and outside, were far too obvious—less professional than anticipated by those paying (or not paying) the bills!” Trump wrote.