Cal Performances launches its 2019–20 Speaker Series on October 6 at Zellerbach Hall with Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist and CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman.
Haberman, as White House correspondent and now one of the most authoritative voices on Trump’s influence on Americans and American journalism, will share her unique, inside perspective. “I’ll talk about how I came to be in this job, the practice of journalism both pre-Donald Trump and during Donald Trump, and the experience of covering someone who spends so much time calling journalists the ‘enemy of the people’,” Haberman said in a Sept. 27 phone interview. “It’s [a phrase] used by dictators and despots to justify what they’re doing right now. I’ll also talk about current affairs and the 2020 election.”
Haberman knows the audience will want to ask about Trump, but she hopes people will use the Q&A to ask what the government is doing legislatively and about actions taken by departments and secretaries. “What is the administration’s agenda for the next year-and-a-half?” she says. “What is being done with the NSA rehash? What would Trump do with a second term?”
Haberman says there is “a Donald Trump fog” cast over all other political matters, although she herself characterizes his actions as “just extreme versions of what presidents have done before.” By challenging journalists to explain or define what constitutes an undisputed version of fact, Trump has created a difficult space not just for Haberman, but, she predicts, for future presidents.
Haberman is less certain about forecasting the future of news reporting in the digital era. “I wish I knew what was next. Twitter has redefined the way everything moves. I hope Twitter stops being as dominant as it is and we can take a breath,” she says. “Speed is driving everything. Longform journalism has episodically had its moment, but I don’t know what the next phase will be.”
Reflecting on the past, Haberman says she would most like to have covered the Nixon administration. “There are obvious behavior parallels between Trump and Nixon, but Nixon had a deep sense of history and had served in government prior to becoming president. He was fundamentally different. He understood the difference between wrong and right.”
Haberman does not believe that Trump will shift his approach as he gears up for the 2020 Campaign. “Change? No. We’ll see more of the same. The tactics will be equally intense in terms of negativity. The next election? It’s going to make the 2016 campaign seem like a genteel debate.”
Cal Performances’ Speaker Series presents creative, intellectual and contemporary thinkers, activists, strategists, satirists, journalists, and leaders in conversations about culture and politics. Tickets to this event are still available.