Gary Abernathy, publisher and editor of The Times-Gazette, traveled to Washington D.C. this week to participate in a two-day symposium at the Georgetown Day School on the subject of “The United States in the Age of Trump.”
The event was organized by Kevin Barr, the associate head of GDS, a private liberal school established in 1945 by people from African-American, white and Jewish families who wanted their children to attend school together at a time when Washington D.C. schools were still segregated by law or custom.
High school students at GDS heard presentations from various speakers and engaged in conversation and debate about the factors that led to President Trump’s election, the reasons for his continued backing from his supporters, and the prospects for the future.
Others who participated included: Juan Williams of Fox News Channel; David Frum, senior editor at The Atlantic and author of “Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic;” Jennifer Miller, a Washington Post contributor; Sarah Stillman, contributor to The New Yorker; and Thomas Edsall, longtime New York Times reporter and columnist and a professor at the Columbia University School of Journalism.
Abernathy, who is also a contributing columnist for The Washington Post, said the event was enlightening for participants, students and faculty.
“This was an amazing collection of students whose knowledge of current affairs is impressive,” said Abernathy. “They were anxious to engage in debate and discussion about politics and the factors that led to President Trump’s election, along with the cultural and societal forces at play in various parts of the country.”
Abernathy said learning experiences cut both ways. “I really enjoy opportunities like this, because I learn as much or more from others as they might learn from me,” he said. “Dialogue between people with differing views may not lead to agreement, but it hopefully leads to a greater level of understanding and mutual respect, something sorely missing from our political landscape.”
Abernathy expressed his appreciation to Barr for inviting him to participate in the symposium, as well as for his dedication to exposing his students to various viewpoints.
During his D.C. visit, Abernathy also toured the offices of The Washington Post.
“The Post has just a few more reporters and editors, and a little more office space, than The Times-Gazette,” said Abernathy. “It was fun to tour one of the largest newsrooms in the world, see some examples of the impressive technology they are employing, examine some of the historic artifacts from the Post’s coverage of events like Watergate, read the names of all the Pulitzer winners on a wall honoring that achievement, and meet with the opinion editors and several members of the news staff in person.”