Stephen Farnsworth profile photo

Stephen Farnsworth

Professor of Political Science and International Affairs

Fredericksburg, VA, UNITED STATES

Dr. Farnsworth has spent decades researching how media and politics intersect. Check out his website at stephenfarnsworth.net.

Spotlight

Media

Publications

Image for publication on Presidential Communication and Character: White House News Management from Clinton and Cable to Twitter and TrumpImage for publication on The Nightly News Nightmare: Media Coverage of U.S. Presidential Elections, 1988-2008Image for publication on The Global President: International Media and the US GovernmentImage for publication on Spinner in Chief: How Presidents Sell Their Policies and Themselves (Media and Power)Image for publication on Political Support in a Frustrated AmericaImage for publication on The Mediated Presidency: Television News and Presidential Governance

Documents

Photos

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Audio

Video

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Social

Biography

Dr. Farnsworth is a sought-after political commentator on subjects ranging from presidential politics to the local Virginia congressional races. He has been widely featured in national media, including The Washington Post, Reuters, The Chicago Tribune and MSNBC.

He is author or co-author of six books on presidential communication. His latest work, "Presidential Communication and Character: White House News Management from Clinton and Cable to Twitter and Trump," examines how the last four U.S. presidents sell themselves and their policies in an ever-expanding and sometimes precarious media environment.

Among his other books are "The Global President;" "Spinner in Chief: How Presidents Sell Their Policies and Themselves;" "The Nightly News Nightmare: Media Coverage of U.S. Presidential Elections, 1988-2008;" "The Mediated Presidency: Television News and Presidential Governance;" and "Political Support in a Frustrated America."

A professor at University of Mary Washington for nearly two decades, he established the University’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies. He is recipient of the 2017 Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award by the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia (SCHEV), and was recognized for his service to the national political science honor society Pi Sigma Alpha. The University has bestowed four teaching honors, including the Alumni Association Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award, the Mary W. Pinschmidt Teaching Award, the Richard Palmieri Outstanding Professor Award and the Waple Research Professorship Award.

Areas of Expertise

American ElectionsAmerican GovernmentThe American PresidencyInternet PoliticsMass Media and PoliticsVirginia Government and PoliticsJournalism

Accomplishments

Waple Research Professorship | professional

Awarded for outstanding research in political science.

2018-03-31

Farnsworth Receives Outstanding Faculty Award | professional

Stephen J. Farnsworth, University of Mary Washington professor of political science and director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies, has received the prestigious 2017 Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award by the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia (SCHEV).

2017-01-04

Farnsworth Receives National Political Science Association Award | professional

Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science and director of the UMW Center for Leadership and Media Studies, was recognized for his dedication and service to Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society, at the American Political Science Association Conference in September 2016.

2016-09-13

Recipient, Distinguished Communicator Award | professional

Awarded by the Virginia Association of Communication Arts and Sciences.

2016-04-10

Best Conference Paper Award in Political Communication | professional

Eastern Communication Association

2011-04-01

Best Conference Paper Award in Political Communication | professional

Southern States Communication Association

2009-04-01

J. William Fulbright Research Chair in Public Policy | professional

McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

2006-01-01

Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award | professional

Awarded by the Alumni Association of Mary Washington College.

2001-01-01

Mary W. Pinschmidt Teaching Award | professional

Presented by the graduating class to the faculty member "who had the greatest impact on their lives" at Mary Washington College.

1999-01-01

Richard Palmieri Outstanding Professor Award | professional

Presented by Mortar Board honor and service society in recognition of exceptional teaching and service to Mary Washington College.

1999-01-01

Education

Georgetown University

Ph.D., American Government

Georgetown University

M.A., American Government

University of Missouri

B.A. (Honors), History

Dartmouth College

B.A. (Honors), American Government

Affiliations

  • Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society
  • Fredericksburg Regional Board of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia : Member
  • Former Chair, Political Communication Section of American Political Science Association. 2012-2014

Media Appearances

Winsome Sears, former state delegate, wins GOP nomination for Virginia lieutenant governor

The Washington Post  online

2021-05-12

"The biggest problem for the Republican ticket is the fact that Virginia has been trending blue," said Stephen J. Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg.

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Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s stiffest election challenge may come from his own party

The Washington Post  online

2021-05-05

“The big question in Virginia Democratic politics right now is: Do they feel luckier than they have in the past? For decades, they’ve been really reluctant to move in a really liberal direction with their nominees out of fear they would lose the general election,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg.

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The tight battle for control of Virginia’s House of Delegates

WTOP  online

2021-05-05

University of Mary Washington political science professor Stephen Farnsworth says Democrats’ recent success in elections can be attributed to northern suburban counties drifting away from the GOP. “The key question nationally for the midterm elections is will traditionally Republican areas in the suburbs, revert back to being Republican now that Trump is no longer president?” he said.

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Joe Biden is approaching 100 days in office. Has the presidency changed him?

The Globe  online

2021-04-26

“Like any competent politician, President Biden has changed to reflect the electorate,” said Stephen Farnsworth, director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia. “What worked for a Democrat in the 1970s does not work today. This is a much more diverse country, and the Democratic Party is offering very different messaging than it did when Biden entered the Senate.”

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Executive Actions on Guns

CTV News Channel  online

2021-04-09

Executive Actions on Guns

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Governor’s race draws $11 million total in first-quarter fundraising

WFXR  online

2021-04-21

Stephen Farnsworth, director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, said it’s uncommon to have that many candidates with large amounts of money on hand.

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'Election integrity' becomes key buzzword in VA GOP race

The Washington Post  online

2021-04-05

Stephen Farnsworth, political science professor at the University of Mary Washington, said "election integrity" rhetoric provides a way for candidates to show the GOP based that they are "Trump adjacent."

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McClellan Vies for VA Governor Seat After 15 Years in Legislature

Virginia Patch  online

2021-03-26

Stephen Farnsworth, director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, said McClellan has a good chance of winning the governorship, but there are obstacles in her way.

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Still barred from major platforms, Trump weighs launching new social network

KIMA  online

2021-03-23

“It doesn’t seem likely such a venue would reach out to people who weren’t already opting into the former president’s narrative,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a professor at the University of Mary Washington and author of “Presidential Communication and Character: White House News Management from Clinton and Cable to Twitter and Trump.” “It’s also important to note that talking about is something very different than doing it.”

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Andrew Cuomo and the Shifting Standards for Surviving Scandal

U.S. News & World Report  online

2021-03-19

The problem for those lawmakers who just want him out (Cuomo's handling of nursing home cases in the COVID response has brought another set of criticisms) is that it's not so easy to force out someone who won't simply leave in shame or out of fear of a protracted scandal, notes Stephen Farnsworth, a professor at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia.

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American Rescue Plan

CTV News Channel  online

2021-03-15

American Rescue Plan

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U.S. Congress Passes $1.9T Rescue Plan

CTV News Channel  online

2021-03-11

U.S. Congress Passes $1.9T Rescue Plan

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U.S. Accelerates Vaccine Timeline

CTV News Channel  online

2021-03-08

U.S. Accelerates Vaccine Timeline

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Northam Endorses Herring Rival in Attorney General Race

WVTF  online

2021-03-08

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says Democrats view Mark Herring’s time in office as a success in terms of criminal justice reform, healthcare, gay rights and consumer protections.

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Event Appearances

Partisan Trends in Late Night Humor

Virginia Association of Communication Arts and Sciences  Fairfax, VA

2018-04-06

The New Virginia: Politics and the Economy after the 2017 Elections

Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance  Lynchburg, VA

2017-12-14

Reviewing the 2017 Elections in Virginia

Virginia Civics Summit  Chesterfield, VA

2017-11-29

The Trump Presidency, the Mass Media and Public Opinion

The Norwegian Washington Seminar  Washington, DC

2017-10-28

The Identity Crises of the Democratic and Republican Parties

White House Fellows Foundation Leadership Conference  Washington, DC

2017-10-27

Donald Trump and the Late-Night Political Humor of Campaign 2016: All the Donald, All the Time

American Political Science Association  San Francisco, CA

2017-08-31

Virginia’s Candidate Selection Process: Examining Recent Primaries and Conventions

American Legion Boys’ State of Virginia  Radford, VA

2017-06-21

President Obama’s Use of New Media: Enacting the Affordable Care Act and Defining Presidential Character

Western Political Science Association  Vancouver, Canada

2017-04-04

Politics, Media and the American Political System.

Institute for International Education Visitor Leadership Program for International Journalism, U.S. Department of State  Washington, DC

2017-03-02

Media Bias is a Threat to American Democracy

Podius Debates. University of Mary Washington  Fredericksburg, VA

2016-10-26

Digital Media, Public Opinion and the US Presidential Race

BI University  Oslo, Norway

2016-10-12

The Presidential Candidates, the Mass Media and the Angry Voters of 2016

Mary Talks, University of Mary Washington  Fredericksburg, VA

2016-10-03

News Coverage of the 2013 Virginia Governor’s Race Versus Presidential Election News

American Political Science Association  Philadelphia, PA

2016-09-21

A Comparative Analysis of the Partisan Targets of Media Fact-checking

American Political Science Association  Philadelphia, PA

2016-09-14

U.S. Journalism, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy Development

Institute for International Education Visitor Leadership Program for International Journalism, U.S. Department of State  Washington, DC

2016-09-07

Late Night Comics Examine Campaign 2016: Donald Trump Dominates the Jokes

American Political Science Association Pre-Conference in Political Communication  Philadelphia, PA

2016-08-03

Barack Obama and the Rise of the Diffident Presidential Style

Midwest Political Science Association  Chicago, IL

2016-04-07

Studying the Presidency after 9/11: Re-considering Presidential Character in Domestic and International Contexts

9/11 and the Academy Conference at Emory & Henry College  Emory, Va

2015-11-12

Fact-Checking the Fact-Checkers

American Political Science Association  San Francisco, CA

2015-09-10

News Coverage of U.S. Presidential Campaigns: Reporting on Primaries and General Elections, 1988-2012

American Political Science Association,  Washington, D.C.

2014-08-01

The Automated Coding of Sentiment in Political News Coverage: Examining Newspaper Coverage of the 2013 Race for Governor of Virginia

American Political Science Association Pre-Conference in Political Communication,  Washington, D.C.

2014-08-01

Virginia Voters and Decentralized Governmental Power: Federal Frustration and State Satisfaction?

Virginia Social Science Association,  Richmond, Va.

2014-04-01

Articles

Donald Trump and the Late-Night Political Humor of Campaign 2016: All the Donald, All the Time. | Routledge

2018-02-14

Stephen J. Farnsworth, S. Robert Lichter, and Deanne Canieso

The Presidency and Social Media: Discourse, Disruption and Digital Democracy in the 2016 Presidential Election, (Dan Schill and John Allen Hendricks, ed.) New York: Routledge, 2018: 330-45.

This One Map Shows the Republicans’ Problem in Virginia | Washington Post

2017-11-09

Stephen J. Farnsworth and Stephen Hanna

[Opinion column] “This One Map Shows the Republicans’ Problem in Virginia.” (Stephen J. Farnsworth and Stephen Hanna). Washington Post. (“The Monkey Cage” blog). November 9, 2017.

Support for Medicaid in Virginia Keeps Growing | Washington Post

2017-10-08

Stephen Farnsworth

[Opinion column] “Support for Medicaid in Virginia Keeps Growing.” Washington Post. October 8, 2017.

Party Affiliation and Political Class | Greenwood

Benjamin Hermerding and Stephen J. Farnsworth

The American Middle Class: An Economic Encyclopedia of Progress and Poverty (R.S. Rycroft, ed.).
Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2017: 476-9.

Virginia’s 2013 Gubernatorial Race and Presidential Elections: A Comparison of News Coverage. | The Virginia News Letter

2017-08-01

Stephen J. Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter

The Virginia News Letter. Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia.
92(3): 1-8 (August 2016).

News coverage of Trump is really, really negative. Even on Fox News | Washington Post

2017-02-28

Stephen J. Farnsworth, S. Robert Lichter, and Roland Schatz

[ Opinion column] “News coverage of Trump is really, really negative. Even on Fox News.” (Stephen J. Farnsworth, S. Robert Lichter, and Roland Schatz.)Washington Post. (“The Monkey Cage” blog). February 28, 2017.

Donald Trump will probably be the most ridiculed president ever | Washington Post

2017-01-21

Stephen J. Farnsworth, S. Robert Lichter, and Deanne Canieso

[Opinion column] “Donald Trump will probably be the most ridiculed president ever.” Stephen J. Farnsworth, S. Robert Lichter, and Deanne Canieso.Washington Post. (“The Monkey Cage” blog). January 21, 2017.

Farnsworth Published by "The Fix" Blog, Washington Post | The Washington Post

2016-03-08

Stephen Farnsworth is co-author of an opinion column, “Late Night Tells Three Times as Many Jokes about 2016 Republicans as Democrats,” published by "The Fix" blog of the Washington Post.

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“The 2015 Election in Virginia: A Tribute to Gerrymandering.” | The Washington Post

2015-11-05

A map by Stephen Hanna, professor of geography, and a column by Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science and director of the University’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, which both discussed the recent state legislative elections were published in "The Fix" blog of The Washington Post. The column was titled “The 2015 Election in Virginia: A Tribute to Gerrymandering.”

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With Overwhelming Support for Nonpartisan Redistricting, Virginians are Studying Ways to Make That Happen | The Virginia News Letter

2015-06-27

Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia

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An Extended Presidential Honeymoon: Coverage of Barack Obama in The New York Times during 2009 and 2010 | Politics and Policy

2015-06-01

(Stephen J. Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter).
Politics and Policy 41 (3): 447-463 (June 2013).

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Virginia Voters and Decentralized Governmental Power: Federal Frustration and State Satisfaction? | Virginia Social Science Journal

2015-05-01

Virginia Voters and Decentralized Governmental Power: Federal Frustration and State Satisfaction?

Event-Driven Environmental News in the U.S. and Canada | Electronic Media and Politics

2012-11-01

(Stuart Soroka, Stephen J. Farnsworth, Lori Young and Andrea Lawlor).
Electronic Media and Politics 1(10): 143-57 (November 2012).

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Authors’ Response: Improving News Coverage in the 2012 Presidential Campaign and Beyond | Politics & Policy

2012-08-01

(Stephen J. Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter).
Politics & Policy 40(4): 547-556 (August 2012).

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