2021: News, Propaganda, and Diplomacy

The American Academy of Diplomacy
The University of Virginia Center for Politics,
The Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello

News, Propaganda, and Diplomacy

This year’s discussion at Monticello took place on October 30 and welcomed Glyn Davies, David Pearce, Carol Giacomo, and Tyson Reeder to examine, “News, Propaganda, and Diplomacy.” PBS NewsHour foreign affairs and defense correspondent Nick Schifrin delivered the keynote address.

Keynote Speaker:

Nick Schifrin

Nick Schifrin is the foreign affairs and defense correspondent for PBS NewsHour, based in Washington, D.C. He leads NewsHour’s foreign reporting and has created week-long, in-depth series for NewsHour from China, Russia, Ukraine, Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, Cuba, Mexico, and the Baltics. The PBS NewsHour series “Inside Putin’s Russia” won a 2018 Peabody Award and the National Press Club’s Edwin M. Hood Award for Diplomatic Correspondence. In November 2020, Schifrin received the American Academy of Diplomacy’s Arthur Ross Media Award for Distinguished Reporting and Analysis of Foreign Affairs.

Prior to PBS NewsHour, Schifrin was Al Jazeera America’s Middle East correspondent. He led the channel’s coverage of the 2014 war in Gaza; reported on the Syrian war from Syria’s Turkish, Lebanese and Jordanian borders; and covered the annexation of Crimea. He won an Overseas Press Club award for his Gaza coverage and a National Headliners Award for his Ukraine coverage.

From 2008-2012, Schifrin served as the ABC News correspondent in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 2011 he was one of the first journalists to arrive in Abbottabad, Pakistan, after Osama bin Laden’s death and delivered one of the year’s biggest exclusives: the first video from inside bin Laden’s compound. His reporting helped ABC News win an Edward R. Murrow award for its bin Laden coverage.

Schifrin is a Council on Foreign Relations term member and an Overseas Press Club Foundation board member. He has a Master of International Public Policy degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), with a concentration in Strategic Studies.


Tyson Reeder

A historian of early America and the Atlantic world, Tyson Reeder is an expert in early U.S. foreign relations and state building. He is an editor with the Papers of James Madison, where he specializes in Madison’s tenure as secretary of state. He has taught courses on U.S. history, the history of inter-American relations, and Latin American colonial history. He is the author of Smugglers, Pirates, and Patriots: Free Trade in the Age of Revolution and the editor of the Routledge History of U.S. Foreign Relations. He is currently writing a book called Between Dissent and Disloyalty: Foreign Meddling and Foreign Collusion in the Age of Madison.Before joining the faculty at the University of Virginia, he taught history at Brigham Young University and UC Davis. He has published in the Washington Post and major historical journals including the Journal of American HistoryJournal of the Early RepublicOxford Research Encyclopedia, and other venues. He won the 2017 Ralph D. Gray prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic for his article “Liberty with the Sword.”


Glyn Davies

Glyn Davies served for 38 years as a Foreign Service Officer in Australia, Africa, Europe, Asia, and in Washington D.C.  He was nominated and confirmed by the Senate three times for ambassadorial assignments:  Political Director for the 2003-04 U.S. Presidency of the G8; Permanent Representative to United Nations Agencies, Vienna (2009-2011); and Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand (2015-2018).  Other notable assignments included Deputy Chief of Mission, London during 9/11; Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (’97-’99); and Deputy Spokesman of the State Department (‘95-’97).  A graduate of Georgetown University and the National War College, Ambassador (Ret) Davies is married and has two daughters and two granddaughters.  He lives in Washington, D.C.

David Pearce

In his diplomatic and journalistic career Maine native David D. Pearce has always done the hard things in the hard places. As a wire service reporter, he covered revolution in Lisbon, civil war in Beirut, and political and economic change in the Arab world. He met his wife, Leyla, while serving in Lebanon as United Press International’s Chief Middle East Correspondent, and both of their children were born in Beirut. As a writer-editor with the National Geographic’s book service, he traveled with a photographer to Southeast China as the country was just beginning to open up to the outside world, and authored the concluding chapter of the 1982 NGS book Journey Into China.

Joining the U.S. Department of State next, Pearce learned Arabic and served over three decades in 11 overseas posts throughout Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. He was political section chief in Kuwait when Iraq invaded and deputy chief of mission in Syria for four years, during which time the embassy was attacked by mobs twice. He was Consul General in Dubai, Consul General and Chief of Mission in Jerusalem, Assistant Chief of Mission in Afghanistan, and Ambassador to both Algeria and Greece. Pearce served in Washington as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, and held senior-level positions in the State Department with responsibility for Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is an avid student of Greek, Roman and Islamic history, art, and literature. Since leaving the Foreign Service in 2016, he has been a strong advocate via speaking, writing and social media engagement of the importance of U.S. diplomatic engagement and public service.

A self-taught artist, Pearce’s travels nourished a lifelong habit of drawing, but he only began to paint actively in 2008. Dividing his time now between Southern California and his home state of Maine, he uses a variety of techniques to convey not so much literal reality as a sense of moment and place as he experienced it at the time. His medium of choice is watercolor, because — as in his diplomatic and journalistic career — he likes the degree of difficulty and the constant challenge of turning sudden developments into unexpected opportunity.

Pearce was elected to the American Academy of Diplomacy in 2018. He is a member of the American Foreign Service Association, DACOR (Diplomatic and Consular Officers, Retired), the Middle East Institute, the World Affairs Council of Maine, and the World Affairs Council of Orange County, California.

Carol Giacomo

Carol Giacomo, a former diplomatic correspondent for Reuters in Washington, covered foreign policy for the international wire service for more than two decades before joining the Times editorial board in August 2007.

In her previous position, she traveled over 1 million miles to more than 100 countries with eight secretaries of state and various other senior U.S. officials. Her reporting for the editorial board involves regular independent overseas travel, including recent trips to North Korea, Iran and Myanmar.

In 2009, she won the Georgetown University Weintal Prize for diplomatic reporting. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In 1999-2000, she was a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, researching U.S. economic and foreign policy decision-making during the Asian financial crisis. She was a Ferris professor of journalism at Princeton University in 2013 and is a frequent public speaker at academic institutions, think tanks and on media shows, including MSNBC.

Born and raised in Connecticut, she holds a B.A. in English Literature from Regis College, Weston, Mass. She began her professional journalism career at the Lowell Sun in Lowell, Mass., and later worked for the Hartford Courant in the city hall, state capitol and Washington bureaus.