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Engaging our statewide community

Over the next four weeks, four WSU researchers in the College of Arts and Sciences will share their work and expertise with communities across the state of Washington.

The WSU faculty are members of the Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau and the initial cohort of WSU Foley Fellows.

Clockwise from top left, Rebecca Craft, Travis Ridout, Matthew Sutton, & Stephen Stehr.
Clockwise from top left, Rebecca Craft, Travis Ridout, Matthew Sutton, & Stephen Stehr.

Speakers Bureau talks are free public presentations on history, politics, music, philosophy, and everything in between. Humanities Washington’s roster of presenters are professors, artists, activists, historians, performers, journalists, and others—all chosen not only for their expertise, but their ability to inspire discussion with people of all ages and backgrounds. All talks are free and open to the public, and each lasts about an hour.

The four WSU faculty presentations begin with:

  • Higher Power: The History of Evangelicals in American PoliticsTuesday, Feb. 18, at 6:30 p.m.
    Indian Trail Library, Spokane WA

    Matthew Sutton, an Edward R. Meyer Distinguished Professor of history, traces the history of the religious right in America, from its early roots to its rise to power under Ronald Reagan and into the current era.

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WSU Insider

Bloomberg’s Instagram meme ad campaign is backfiring

The Democratic candidate’s recent sponcon doesn’t seem to be convincing people he’s any more relatable, hip, or funny than he was before.

The advertising industry that thrives on Instagram seems to love Michael Bloomberg’s U.S. presidential campaign — one marketer who posted a Bloomberg meme told the Times it was the most successful ad he’s ever posted. But the onslaught of critical comments on the memes raises questions about the effectiveness of the campaign — both for Bloomberg and for the influential meme pages that risk losing their cool by promoting a candidate who’s viewed by many of their followers as an out-of-touch billionaire trying to buy his way into an election.

Travis Ridout.

“I’m not surprised by the negative reaction,” Travis N. Ridout, a professor of government and public policy at Washington State University who researches online political advertising, told Recode. “Especially given the media attention that he is getting for this, people could feel like they’re being duped or manipulated.”

Many of the negative comments specifically called out Bloomberg for his wealth — labeling him as an “oligarch.” Others accused him of trying to distract from his checkered past on racial issues, which includes instituting controversial “stop-and-frisk” policing in New York City that disproportionately impacted people of color.

“A lot of times, memes are seen as organic, created by people who have something funny to say,” Ridout said. But “to the extent that this is seen as something that is paid for by a rich guy” then it may not have the same impact.

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Trump, Bloomberg Super Bowl ads test what a candidate can buy

In almost every other election, it would be unimaginable for a candidate to consider buying a commercial during the Super Bowl, television’s most coveted advertising space. For President Donald Trump and billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg, it hardly made a dent in their massive campaign war chests, though it’s not clear what effect the ads will have on voters, if any.

According to AdAge, a 30-second spot in this year’s Super Bowl cost a whopping $5.6 million. Trump bought two 30-second ads and Bloomberg bought one 60-second spot.

Travis Ridout.

“I think Bloomberg may have bought a little bit more than Trump,” said Travis Nelson Ridout, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project and professor of political science at Washington State University. “Trump isn’t on the ballot for another nine months and most of our research says the persuasive effects of ads aren’t going to last that long.”

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Komo News

Native American drivers are more likely to be searched by Washington State Patrol

While the searches occur at five times the rate for white drivers, they are less likely to turn up drugs or other contraband.

Twelve years ago, WSU academic researchers in sociology, political science, and criminal justice and criminology working with the Washington State Patrol raised a warning flag: Troopers were searching drivers from minority communities, particularly Native Americans, at a much higher rate than whites. They recommended additional study.

That was the last time the State Patrol conducted a substantive analysis of the race and ethnicity of drivers searched by troopers. Meanwhile, troopers continued to search Native Americans at a rate much higher — more than five times — than that of whites, an analysis by InvestigateWest shows. The State Patrol also continued conducting searches at an elevated rate for Blacks, Latinos and Pacific Islanders.

And yet when troopers did decide to search white motorists, they were more likely to find drugs or other contraband, records show.

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The Spokesman-Review

WSU public policy director predicts global political division will persist

During Economic Forecast Breakfast, Cornell Clayton said divide driven by inequality, instability and cultural identity issues

One of the major effects of a global political economy that has changed rapidly in recent decades is political division, which will likely continue as the presidential election approaches.

Cornell Clayton.

That’s according to Cornell Clayton, director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy at Washington State University, who didn’t make many promises during a panel discussion Thursday at the annual 2020 Economic Forecast Breakfast at the Hilton Vancouver Washington. But Clayton confidently said that unless the challenges presented by the new economic reality — wealth inequality, employment instability and cultural identity issues — are sufficiently addressed, sharp political divisions in U.S. politics will continue.

“We are living in an unpredictable, chaotic political world,” Clayton said.

Since the end of the Cold War, the emergence of global trade organizations coupled with technological advancements has created global prosperity and investment. But Clayton said that it has also fostered inequality.

“What inequality does is it creates political instability and political anxiety, and we’ve seen that in our society and other societies around the world,” Clayton said.

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The Columbian