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October 12, 2012

Salem State panel to probe truth in politics

SALEM — Former Massachusetts governor and Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis will participate in a symposium at Salem State University on Monday evening titled “Election 2012: Fact, Fiction and Public Opinion.”

“We’ll talk about the role of truth in politics and how people feel about that,” said Mark Zaitchik, a professor of communications who will serve as moderator. “What we’ll talk about is, what are the facts of the matter? You can tell fact from fiction if you care to know, most of the time.”

Zaitchik, who has been organizing similar forums since 1998, has put together an interesting and eclectic group of folks to give their take on the truths or lack thereof in the current election.

Besides Dukakis, the panel includes Democratic strategist Michael Goldman; Jennifer Nassour, former chairwoman of the Massachusetts Republican Party; Sister Marge Clarke, lobbyist, educator and economist; Keli Goff, political journalist and television commentator; and Chuck Kolb, chemist, physicist and president of Aerodyne Research.

The discussion will try to dig down to the truth behind some of the election’s most hotly debated topics and will, in part, also be a philosophical discussion about how people perceive the truth and how public opinion is formed.

Zaitchik will facilitate the discussion by asking each panelist a question. After each response, the other panelists will weigh in and give their take.

“Each of them will see things through a different lens,” he said. “I wanted to bring the brightest people I could to articulate their vision of the world the best they can. It’s not cable TV.”

Dukakis, who served as governor from 1974 to 1979 and again from 1983 to 1991, was the Democratic nominee for president in 1988, ultimately losing to George H.W. Bush.

“One thing I want to ask Michael Dukakis is how the rise of cable news has changed the way you campaign now compared to 1988,” Zaitchik said. “My sense is campaigns were waged differently then. You couldn’t get away with lies.”

IF YOU GO

What: “Election 2012: Fact, Fiction and Public Opinion,” discussion featuring former Gov. Michael Dukakis.

When: Monday, 7 to 9 p.m.

Where: Veterans Hall, Ellison Campus Center, North Campus, Salem State University

Admission: Free

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