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 Late Night with Trump: Political Humor and the American PresidencyImage 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

photos photos photos

Audio/Podcasts

Video

Image for vimeo videos on Stephen Farnsworth Discusses 'The Global President' - Virginia Festival of the Book 2014Image for vimeo videos on UMW's Stephen Farnsworth: Current ResearchImage for vimeo videos on Virginia politics, explainedImage for vimeo videos on How President Obama Wins VirginiaImage for vimeo videos on Electoral College Talk with Stephen FarnsworthImage for vimeo videos on UMW Reunion Weekend Speakers | Dr. Stephen Farnsworth & Andrew Painter | Mary Talks

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 seven books on presidential communication. His 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;" "Political Support in a Frustrated America;" and "Late Night With Trump: Political Humor and the American Presidency."

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

JournalismAmerican ElectionsAmerican GovernmentThe American PresidencyInternet PoliticsMass Media and PoliticsVirginia Government and Politics

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

Commonwealth's attorney candidates spar over rising crime, partnering with police, criminal justice reform

Prince William Times  online

2023-08-28

The candidates, both 52, answered a series of questions from moderator Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor and director of the University of Mary Washington Center for Leadership and Media Studies.

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Trump to Surrender in Georgia Tonight

CTV News  online

2023-08-25

"This is absolutely the biggest legal threat that the former President faces," said Stephen Farnsworth.

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Republican Presidential Candidates, Minus Trump, Spar Sharply

Voice of America; Globe World News Echo  online

2023-08-24

"This is his moment," Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington, said of DeSantis.

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Youngkin retools message for new elections with ‘Parents Matter’ talks

The Washington Post; Washington Dailies  online

2023-08-23

Youngkin “is wise to continue to talk about the parental agenda,” University of Mary Washington political scientist Stephen Farnsworth said. “It allows him to present himself as a conservative …[while demonstrating that] the current version of the ‘parents matter’ agenda is more inclusive than the previous version.”

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Trump Likely to Upstage Opponents Even if Absent from Debate

Voice of America; West Observer  online

2023-08-23

"It creates a very, very difficult environment for the other Republicans, because they have their own ideas for what they want to do with respect to key issues like the economy or Ukraine or immigration. But that doesn't mean they'll have much of a chance to talk about it. They'll be asked about Donald Trump," predicts Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington.

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Other states are having an impact on Virginia elections

WVTF  online

2023-08-11

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says electric cars and pork policy are both a form of tribal politics. "The campaign trail so far looks like an out-of-state bogeyman for both sides," Farnsworth says. "The Republicans are saying don't California Virginia, and the Democrats increasingly seem to be saying don't Florida Virginia."

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Authenticity, Charisma Count for US Presidential Candidates

Voice of America News  online

2023-08-11

By shaking hands, gesturing and repeating signature lines, presidential candidates amplify their messages to the wider world, according to Stephen Farnsworth, director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington.

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How a long-standing labor law in Virginia could impact elections this year

WVTF  online

2023-08-11

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says this might have some traction with voters. "It may be a very effective issue in those cases where you can really draw attention to what candidates have said. Virginia has a virulent, aggressive anti-union history," Farnsworth says. "And it's not clear to me that Virginia has changed as much as some of these Democrats supporting an end to Right to Work wish Virginia has changed."

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Abortion is likely to be a top issue on the campaign trail this fal

WVTF  online

2023-08-09

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says Republicans are gambling with this line of attack. "There are few things more risky in politics than choosing to talk about an issue that is a loser for your side," Farnsworth says. "Polls have consistently shown that Democrats have the advantage on the abortion question, and that advantage has gotten bigger in the wake of the decision by the Supreme Court to reverse Roe versus Wade."

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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

Courses

American Government:

Mass Media Politics U.S. Political Parties & Elections The American Presidency US Constitutional Reform US Politics and Film Consuming News: A User’s Guide

Articles

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

Routledge

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

2018-02-14

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

Stephen J. Farnsworth and Stephen Hanna

2017-11-09

[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

Stephen Farnsworth

2017-10-08

[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

Stephen J. Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter

2017-08-01

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

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

2017-02-28

[ 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

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

2017-01-21

[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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