NPR White House Correspondent Asma Khalid Speaks on the Media in the 2024 U.S. Presidential Election

Ellen Jordan ’26 in News | May 10, 2024

          Lawrenceville’s sixth Capstone seminar of the school year was held on Monday, April 6 in the Heely Room. The event featured  National Public Radio (NPR) White House Correspondent and Co-Host of the NPR Politics Podcast, Asma Khalid as the Capstone speaker. The seminar focused on the role that the media currently plays in covering the upcoming 2024 Presidential Election, while also touching upon topics such as the dangers of media self-selection, the current mistrust many Americans hold towards the media, and the role that Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) has played in manipulating American voters. 

          Khalid began to explain the rather unprecedented mistrust that Americans currently hold in the veracity of the media. “It is most challenging to do [reporting] when people don’t trust you,” Khalid admitted. Keeping the focus on the media itself, Khalid then proceeded to discuss the dangers of media self-selection. Specifically, she cited the rise of electronic news publications as contributing to this issue, as online sources of information allow readers to handpick which articles they would like to read. “Self-selection and curation of news [constitute] a really dangerous idea. If you don’t hear from different voices, you don’t actually get a full breadth of what’s going on in the country,” she elaborated.

          Khalid then explained how A.I. has negatively influenced voters in the upcoming presidential election, using the example of the deep fake impersonation of U.S. President Joe Biden that circulated in New Hampshire back in January. The deepfake took on the form of a robocall that imitated the President’s voice and discouraged voters in the State from voting in New Hampshire’s presidential primary election. Eventually, Steve Kramer, a political consultant working for a rival candidate of Biden, claimed responsibility for orchestrating the robocall.
          Concluding the lecture portion of the seminar, Khalid discussed the actual role that journalists play in the media. She argued that journalists are not meant to be activists, for their sole obligation as reporters is to deliver impartial information to the public.

          “Our job [as journalists] is to be a mirror of society and inform the public,” Khalid added.

          The lecture was followed by a Q&A session, where topics ranged from voter turnout for younger generations and political bias in the media to the role third party candidates such as RFK may play in the upcoming presidential election.

          Mina Kanburlar ’24, who attended the seminar, was in full praise of Khalid’s lecture and specifically admired her dedication to objectivity while reporting. 

          “[Khalid] definitely was one of my favorite speakers of the [Capstone] so far. I thought she was very well-spoken and professional and made sure that she didn’t show any bias,” Kanburlar elaborated.  Kanburar additionally emphasized that she enjoyed the topics discussed by Khalid, such as the importance of recognizing misinformation in the media. 

          “After seeing how much emphasis she puts on avoiding media censorship and being as unbiased as possible, I became more aware of the news I consume personally and how I can be more open-minded with the news articles that I choose to click on,” Kanburlar concluded.