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 will take place on October 30 and will welcome Glyn Davies, David Pearce and Robin Wright to examine, “News, Propaganda, and Diplomacy.” PBS NewsHour foreign affairs and defense correspondent Nick Schifrin will deliver the keynote address.

Keynote Speaker:

Nick Schifrin

Nick Schifrin (@nickschifrin) | TwitterNick 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.


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.

Robin Wright

Robin Wright is a contributing writer to The New Yorker and a joint fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She has reported from more than 140 countries on six continents and has covered a dozen wars as well as many revolutions and uprisings. She has traveled with or interviewed every president since Jimmy Carter and traveled with or interviewed every secretary of state since Henry Kissinger. She is a former diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post. She has also written for The New York Times Magazine, TIME, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs and many others. Wright has also been a fellow at the Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as well as Yale, Duke, Dartmouth, and the University of California.

Among several awards, Wright received the U.N. Correspondents Gold Medal, the National Magazine Award for reportage from Iran in The New Yorker, and the Overseas Press Club Award for “best reporting in any medium requiring exceptional courage and initia­tive” for coverage of African wars. The American Academy of Diplomacy selected Wright as the journalist of the year for her “distinguished reporting and analysis of international affairs.” She also won the National Press Club Award for diplomatic reporting. She has also been a television commentator on morning and evening news programs on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN and MSNBC as well as “Meet the Press,” “Face the Nation,” “This Week,” “Nightline,” “PBS Newshour,” “Frontline,” “Charlie Rose,” “Washington Week in Review,” “Hardball,” “Morning Joe,” “Anderson Cooper 360,” “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer,” “The Colbert Report” and HBO’s “Real Time.”

Wright’s most recent book is “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion across the Islamic world.” It was selected as the Best Book on International Affairs by the Overseas Press club. Her other books include “Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East” (2008), which The New York Times and The Washington Post both selected as one of the most notable books of the year. She was the editor of “The Iran Primer: Power, Politics and U.S. Policy” (2010). Her other books include “The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran” (2000), which was selected as one of the 25 most memorable books of the year 2000 by the New York Library Association, “Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam” (2001), “Flashpoints: Promise and Peril in a New World” (1991), and “In the Name of God: The Khomeini Decade” (1989).