Recent graduate and Maisel publish book on Trump

Addie Bullock

Courtesy of Amazon

Colby likes to tout its professor-student relationships, but perhaps there is no better example than the book Trumping Ethical Norms: Teachers, Preachers, Pollsters, and the Media Respond to Donald Trump, co written by Goldfarb Family Distinguished Professor of American Government Sandy Maisel and recent graduate and currently a NEWS Center Maine Morning report producer based in Portland, ME, Hannah Dineen ’17. On April 12, Colby hosted a mini conference to celebrate the book, including two panels with some of the book’s contributors, one with various religious leaders and one with journalists and professors, as well as a dinner.

The book was a result of the 2016 election and the ethical conflicts Maisel ran into when discussing it in his classes. He points to a discussion he had in one of the first classes of the year, in his Introduction to American Politics class, where he discussed a lot of the issues he had with the election. He felt conflicted about the way he acted in class, and concerned that he was not creating a space for students of all political backgrounds to feel comfortable, and raised this question of the ethical requirements of a professor to his senior seminar on ethics and politics. The rest of the class supported his reaction, but he posed the question to Dineen. She said that although she’s more liberal now, as a first-year coming from a conservative upbringing, commentary like that would make her feel uncomfortable.

“Sandy is not the type of professor who wants students to just say what they think he wants to hear. He appreciates being challenged by his students and I think that is best exemplified by the fact that he wanted to work on this project with me” Dineen stated to the Echo.

This conversation led to Dineen writing her senior seminar research paper in Maisel’s class on ethical constraints in various professions, and these conversations eventually evolved into the book. Maisel told the Echo that a majority of the project was completed from mid second semester to October, and was published on March 22 2018.

Trumping Ethical Norms consists of essays written by a variety of teachers, religious leaders, pollsters and members of the media writing about how they have dealt with the ethical dilemmas that have appeared since the 2016 election and under the presidency of Donald Trump. Many of the contributors have connections to Colby; Rabbi Rachel Asch is the Jewish Chaplain at the College, Aaron Hanlon serves as an assistant professor of English, David Shribman is the executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and a member of the selection committee of the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award, and Amy Walter ’91, national editor of The Cook Political Report and a regular on “PBS Newshour.”

The first panel was moderated by Dineen, and Rabbi Asch, Father Rozier, a Jesuit priest and current doctoral student in public health at the University of Michigan, and Carl Ruby, a pastor at an evangelical church in Springfield, Ohio. All participated in the panel. They discussed the importance of their ethical decision involving politics in their respective religious traditions, and addressed how multifaceted their careers are, and how politics permeates all areas of their work. They also addressed the question of whether they have the ethical responsibility to conceal their political affiliations from their congregations. Asch said that she doesn’t conceal her political affiliations, while Father Rozier said that any mention of his political affiliation during his sermons faced immediate opposition from some members of his congregation.

The second panel was a combination of journalists and professors, including Hanlon, Paula McClain, Vice Provost for Graduate Education, David Shribman, and Nura Sediqe, a doctoral student in political science at Duke University. They discussed how their roles have changed following the election, including the way they speak in the classroom and how they cover news.

This is the first book Maisel has ever collaborated on with a student; he told the Echo that he has worked with many students on journal articles, but that his work with Dineen was the first of its kind.

Maisel views the book as a work that straddles the academic and popular markets, and will appeal to ethics classes in journalism and professional schools. The public who has displayed a strong opposition to Trump and the manner in which he has changed the way popular culture talks about ethics and morality.

As someone in the beginning stages of a promising media career, this book represented great opportunity for Dineen. She acknowledges this, but added “I think what will help me most going forward is the time I’ve dedicated to studying and thinking critically about the ethical responsibilities of the mainstream media. Not only have I grasped what the ethical tenants are for journalists, but I recognize why they’re vital to a healthy democracy.” Dineen adds that she’s learned to “Do what journalists do best; ferret out the truth, report it honestly, and leave it up to the American citizenry to respond accordingly.”