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

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

Spanberger’s rival questions on tape whether pregnancy less likely after rape

The Washington Post  online

2022-06-28

And Vega’s remarks, political scientist Stephen Farnsworth said, immediately “add fuel to that fire.”

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The impact of the January 6th committee on Virginia's 2nd Congressional race

WVTF; WHRV 89.5  online

2022-06-27

"The audit question will be a millstone hung around her neck," Stephen Farnsworth says. "Even in the most fantastical interpretations of the 2020 election, Virginia was not anywhere near a state that was close, and that partisan vote won't help her with voters who are not reflexively Republican."

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Candidates are Set for Fall Election

Connection Newspapers  online

2022-06-27

"Vega's very aggressive effort at courting very conservative voices in Virginia and nationally really paid off here," said Stephen Farnsworth, director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington. "In a race where a lot of the candidates on the ballot are going to be relatively unknown to a lot of the voters, Vega's decision to come in with a lot of high-profile conservative endorsements helped push her across the finish line."

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Biden Calls for Gas Tax Pause (CTV News)

CTV News  online

2022-06-24

"It is important to recognize there is not a lot the president can do in a situation like this," said Stephen Farnsworth.

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LISTEN: Dr. Stephen Farnsworth/7th District Congressional race (Fredericksburg Today)

Fredericksburg Today  online

2022-06-24

"The 7th Congressional District is going to be one of those marquee national congressional races," said Stephen Farnsworth.

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Virginia Primary Election 2022: Voting Information and Key Races

NBC 12  online

2022-06-22

"You really are looking at a range of candidates who could emerge victorious if they could get the people in their home counties, the people who are like a part of the state's Republican district they are, to participate," said Stephen Farnsworth.

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Yesli Vega wins GOP nomination to challenge Spanberger in 7th

Richmond Times-Dispatch  online

2022-06-22

“It’s very clear that Vega is trying to build her entire campaign on the far-right segment of the Republican Party,” said Stephen Farnsworth, director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington.

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U.S. Feds Hike Rate By 75 Basis Points

CTV News  online

2022-06-16

"These higher prices are really going to sting. The idea of reducing the pressure for more economic activity by lowering interest rates may help reduce the runaway inflation, but it comes with its own problems including the higher cost to people who have loans and certainly a discouraging fact if they are thinking about buying a house and taking out a loan on that," said Stephen Farnsworth.

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Capitol Riot Probe

CTV News  online

2022-06-15

"The hearing that started last night and will be continuing in the coming weeks is really trying to put all the pieces together," said Stephen Farnsworth

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The U.S. Investigation Into the Jan. 6th Capitol Hill Attack

Global News Radio 640 Toronto  online

2022-06-15

"I think there are a couple of things to recognize with the conversations so far. First of all, almost all of the voices you are hearing are Republicans who are inside the administration," said Stephen Farnsworth.

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U.S. Sends More Weapons to Ukraine

CTV News  online

2022-06-02

"It is clear that this is going to be of immense help to the Ukrainians as soon as the Americans can deliver this kind of weapons system," said Stephen Farnsworth.

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State lawmakers could finally vote on a budget proposal next week (WVTF)

WVTF  online

2022-05-26

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says a governor’s first budget is particularly important. "If a governor is able to get a lot of what he wants in the budget – that will create an environment where maybe he will be more successful," Farnsworth says. "If a governor gets basically rolled by the opposition party or by the legislature, that's a sign that perhaps the governor isn't quite ready for primetime."

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12 Children, 2 Teachers, Kill in TX

CTV News  online

2022-05-26

"I thought the dam would break after the Connecticut shooting with all those elementary school children," said Stephen Farnsworth.

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Virginia Budget Negotiators Indicate a Deal is Close

The Republican Standard  online

2022-05-24

In an interview with the Washington Post, Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political scientist, believes that this budget is a test of the new governor’s power to wrest sweeping tax cuts out of a divided Capitol.

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Virginia early voting, GOP conventions: What you need to know

The Washington Post  online

2022-05-12

“2022 is a year full of changes that people are going to be experiencing. We have a new early voting system in place, we have new congressional districts, and depending on where you are in Virginia, the Republican primary may be a Republican convention instead,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington. “It’s a very complicated system for voters, and without an awful lot of effort, turnout is likely to be pretty low as a result of all these changes.”

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Small Cannabis Enterpreneurs Say They Can't Compete Against 'Walmart of Weed' (RVA Magazine)

RVA Magazine  online

2022-05-11

“The recreational marijuana industry is the wild, wild West right now,” Stephen Farnsworth said.

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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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