The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is not even attempting to mask its political bias with its newest course offering.
“Trumpaganda: The war on facts, press and democracy,” will examine “the Trump administration’s disinformation campaign, its 'running war' with the mainstream news media, and their implications for American democracy and a free press,” according to the course description.
The twice-weekly, eight-week, lecture-style course is running from Oct. 22 to mid-December, meaning it will be in full swing during the critical midterm elections.
Instructor Mira Sotirovic, an associate professor in media, is a “scholar of propaganda” and previously co-wrote an essay about the president, in which she and co-author Christopher Benson accuse him of having “racist and sexist undertones” in his messaging. The essay appeared in a “scholarly” text titled “Communication in the Age of Trump.”
“Propaganda is effective only if it is concealed and camouflaged as something else, such as news, advertisements or PR releases, and it is critical to learn how to detect propaganda and recognize propagandistic features of any communication, including presidential,” Sotirovic told University of Illinois’ student newspaper.
Other presidents have been the subject of university courses in the past. “Understanding Obama” was the title of one such course offered at Harvard University back in 2013, although even the course title alone suggests it was less than critical of our 44th president.
With this course, the university’s journalism department is hoping to attract more than just journalism students.
“This particular course is the first of what we hope will be a series of what we’re thinking as pop-up courses, where we’re trying to identify things that are very in the news and build an eight-week course around it that would be of interest to the broader University community, not just journalism majors,” journalism department head Stephanie Craft told the Bellevue News-Democrat.
Perhaps the next course in the series will analyze the anti-Trump and anti-conservative bias in left-wing media outlets — or not.
Brendan Pringle (@BrendanPringle) is writer from California. He is a National Journalism Center graduate and formerly served as a development officer for Young America's Foundation at the Reagan Ranch.