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McCarthey Family Foundation Lecture Series

In Praise of Independent Journalism

Lecture by Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough

Co-hosts of Morning Joe on MSNBC

Saturday, November 10, 2018, at 7 pm
Rowland Hall, 720 Guardsman Way, Salt Lake City
Open to the public and free of charge

Mika Brzezinski is co-host with Joe Scarborough of MSNBC’s award-winning Morning Joe and author of three New York Times best-selling books including Grow Your Value: Living and Working to Your Full Potential and Knowing Your Value. Daughter of the late, distinguished Foreign Policy Expert and National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, she began her journalism career as a reporter climbing the ranks at ABC and at CBS. On September 11, 2001, Brzezinski became CBS’s principal “Ground Zero” reporter, broadcasting live from the scene when the south tower collapsed. In 2007 she joined Morning Joe, ranked as the top news show of 2008 by the New York Times. Brzezinski and her co-host were recently inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame.

Scarborough made a name for himself in politics long before he became a nationally known media force. The first Republican elected to Congress from Florida (1994) since 1872, Scarborough served on the Judiciary, Armed Services, Government Reform and Oversight, Education and the Workforce, National Security, and Civil Service (Chair) committees. Retired from Congress in 2001, Scarborough joined MSNBC in 2003 as host of Scarborough Country. The former Republican is a New York Times best-selling author, whose books includeThe Right Path: From Ike to Reagan, How Republicans Once Mastered Politics--and Can Again. Founder of an award-winning weekly Florida newspaper where he served as editor and publisher and a political columnist for The Washington Post, Scarborough was named to the 2011 “TIME 100” list of the world’s most influential people.

Essay Contest Winners


In conjunction with the annual McCarthey Family Foundation Lecture Series: In Praise of Independent Journalism, students in grades 6-12 and at colleges and universities (undergraduate and graduate ) in Utah were invited to submit an original essay on “Why a free press matters in a democracy.”


Grades 6 - 8
Arden Louchheim, Rowland Hall

Grades 9 -12
Molly Chien, Salt Lake Center for Science Education

Braxton Thornley, Dixie State University


Grades 6 - 8
Aiden Gandhi, Rowland Hall
Avery Taylor, Lehi Junior High
Sam Gustafson, St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School

Grades 9 - 12
Gwendolyn Orme, Judge Memorial Catholic High School
Kalson Yussuf, Judge Memorial Catholic High School
Katy Dark, Rowland Hall

Don J. Thorpe, Salt Lake Community College
Madeline Brague, University of Utah
Vasiliki Karahalios, University of Utah

The winning essayist in each category will be introduced and receive his/her cash prize at the 13th Annual McCarthey Family Foundation Lecture: In Praise of Independent Journalism Saturday, November 10, 2018, 7:00 PM at Rowland Hall, Philip G. McCarthey Campus, 720 Guardsman Way in Salt Lake City. The Lecture is open to the public at no charge. The winning essays will be printed in the evening’s program. Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, co-hosts of Morning Joe on MSNBC will be the guest lecturers.

Categories were as follows:

UNIVERSITY AND COLLEGE STUDENTS: 1,000 word essay; cash prize of $4,000.00
GRADES 9-12: 750 word essay: cash prize of $2,500.00
GRADES 6- 8: 500 word essay; cash prize of $1,500.00


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. First Amendment to the United States Constitution (1791)

In an essay of 500 words, explain what the First Amendment to the United States Constitution means (1) for the press in the United States and why its freedom matters; and (2) provide examples to support your position.


“We need a free press. We must have it. It's vital. If you want to preserve - I'm very serious now - if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started. They get started by suppressing free press. In other words, a consolidation of power. When you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press.”

John McCain, as quoted in "McCain says suppressing free press is 'how dictators get started'" (19 February 2017), Reuters

In an essay of no more than 750 words, explain in your own words (1) why a free press matters in a democracy and (2) provide examples to support your position.


Words such as “fake news” and “enemy of the people” used to describe the press today are not new. The need to control what the press reports is not new either. The Nixon administration fought to prevent the publication of the “Pentagon Papers” which revealed untruths about the Viet Nam war hidden by several administrations from the American public.

The Supreme Court agreed to consider the case as to whether the constitutional freedom of the press was subordinate to a claimed need of the executive branch of government to maintain the secrecy of information. The Supreme Court ruled, in a landmark decision for press freedom, that the First Amendment did protect the right of newspapers to print the materials.

Furious about the Court’s decision, Mr. Nixon, who privately referred to the press as "the enemy” - and who kept not one but several lists of reporters and journalists whom he considered “enemies” - created a team of “plumbers” to prevent similar leaks in the future. The next year, that team broke into the Watergate offices of the Democratic Party and set off a scandal that ended with the president’s resignation.

While not the first US president to have an antagonistic relationship with the media, Mr. Trump’s sustained attack is unprecedented. Angry about what he considers biased media claims alleging connections between his 2016 campaign and Russia, the President repeatedly voices statements such as "The FAKE NEWS media … is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

The United Nations has recently condemned these attacks on the media (August 2, 2018) and warned that the U.S. president’s rhetoric could provoke violence against journalists. In fact, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, reports that in 2017, 21 journalists were imprisoned on false news (“fake news”) charges, more than double from the year prior, and recorded a total of 262 journalists imprisoned for their reporting.

In an essay of no more than 1,000 words, explain why a free press matters in a democracy and provide reasons and examples that support your position.

Contact: Mary Kay Lazarus,, 801.328.8899.

Link to discussion suggestions for the essay competition.

You Belong at Rowland Hall


720 South Guardsman Way
Salt Lake City, Utah 84108
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