Throughout history, U.S. presidents have carved out their relationships with the press. In this lesson, students will hear from author and historian Harold Holzer as he discusses how several presidents, from George Washington to Donald Trump, navigated their interactions with the media and implemented strategies to communicate with the press, some of which are still used today.
1912 Republican Convention: TR Starts the Bull Moose Party
This four-minute video provides students with an introduction to the election of 1912 and the emergence of the progressive Bull Moose party, named for Theodore Roosevelt’s saying after an assassination attempt that he was “fit as a bull moose” to become president again. Focusing on Theodore Roosevelt’s decision to challenge President William Taft for the 1912 Republican Party nomination, the video shows students how the newly created system of direct primaries affected the race, and how Roosevelt’s failure to wrest the nomination from Taft resulted in the formation of the short-lived Bull Moose party. The video is useful for lessons focused on the election of 1912, or for lessons focused on the political reforms of the progressive era.
Election of 1860: Slavery Splits the Democrats
This four-minute video explores the causes and consequences of the Democratic Party’s division into two parties following the Democratic national convention of 1860. After rejecting Stephen A. Douglas’s failed attempt to reconcile the Northern and Southern factions of the party with his doctrine of “popular sovereignty,” the Southern delegates walked out of the convention. That decision led to the election of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, and 50 years of Republican dominance in national politics. A concise summary of the unusual events that allowed Abraham Lincoln to win the election of 1860, the video fits into any sequence of lessons on the factors leading to secession and the Civil War.
Dictators and Civil Wars: The Cold War in Latin America
This 6-minute video explores how the Cold War was an ideological, and sometimes military, struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union. In general, the Soviet Union supported the expansion of communist governments around the globe, and the United States supported anti-communist regimes, including both democracies and dictatorships. By the 1950s, these tensions were seen in Latin America, and revolutions, coups, and uprisings became commonplace throughout most of the latter half of the twentieth century.
Immigration in the 1990s: Proposition 187
This 9-minute video illustrates how demographic trends and a changing California economy in the 1990s created a backlash against immigration, only to be followed by an even larger one over time. The video shows students how economic and demographic forces affect the strategies of the political parties, and demonstrates how policies like Proposition 187 can produce unintended and surprising consequences. It also draws parallels with some aspects of President Trump’s rhetoric on immigration.
From Watergate to Campaign Finance Reform
This 12-minute video is useful for any lesson that introduces students to the Watergate scandal, and any lesson focused on the constitutional and political challenges that complicate the regulation of campaign contributions. After clarifying the connection between the Watergate break-in and subsequent campaign finance scandal, the video documents how campaign finance regulations created in the wake of Watergate would eventually be manipulated by donors seeking to convert money into political influence. The video helps students make the connection between the history of Watergate and current controversies surrounding campaign finance, and to see how, after decades of attempted reforms, the United States is once again experiencing the same unregulated flow of campaign cash that helped give rise to the issues in the 1970s.
Presidents vs. Press: How Pentagon Papers Leak Set Up First Amendment Showdowns
This 12-minute video clarifies the connections between the New York Times Co. v. United States Supreme Court case and the recent battles that Presidents Obama and Trump have fought to contain national security leaks. Focusing on the broader issues of freedom of the press in a democracy, the video helps students draw a line between the New York Times decision from 1971 and the ongoing disputes between the public’s right to know and the president’s right to secrecy. Useful for examining the First Amendment and the role of the press in a democratic society, the video also provides students with the historical context surrounding the Pentagon Papers, and the Vietnam War and consequences of the New York Times court decision.
How to Fact-Check History
This lesson and its accompanying seven-minute video introduce students to a professional fact-checker, who describes the methods and processes he employs to verify information that appears in news stories. The video explains which claims can be fact-checked, and why some sources are more reliable than others. How do fact-checkers engage in analysis of contemporary and historical claims? How do we distinguish between “bad facts” and “bad narratives” when critiquing media sources? Examine the tools that fact-checkers use to identify and interrogate claims, and put those skills into practice.
Aftermath of the War on Terror
This 11-minute video and lesson plan enable students to examine the experiences of Muslims and Arab Americans following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Students will investigate one example of a flawed prosecution of Arab immigrants living in Detroit as a case study in the climate of fear following the attacks. Students will then choose from among other primary source materials to describe particular experiences and generalize about the broader experiences of Muslims and Arab Americans.
How the Military Response to 9/11 Led to Two Decades of War in Afghanistan
This 12-minute video and lesson plan examine how within weeks of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to attack Taliban strongholds. By the end of the year, the mission’s main goal was accomplished. But shifting objectives led to the expansion of a war that became the longest in U.S. history, and is ending in chaos. This lesson asks students to engage in a “Structured Academic Controversy.” The goal of the activity is for students to analyze sources, classify arguments, and engage in discussion.