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Former State Department official, author and editor, Richard Stengel discusses what democracies—and all of us—can do to counter the threat of disinformation to society.
Richard Stengel is an NBC and MSNBC political analyst. His recent book, Information Wars: How We Lost the Global Battle Against Disinformation and What We Can Do About It, is based on his time as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the Obama administration. While at the State Department, he helped modernize State’s communications and led the department’s efforts to counter the global rise of disinformation. He helped create and oversee the Global Engagement Center, the United States’ only entity tasked with fighting the global information war. Stengel also oversaw the department’s communications and also State’s extensive educational exchanges, including the Fulbright Scholarship.
Stengel was the editor of TIME from 2006 until 2013, where he oversaw all print, digital and international operations. During his time there he turned the brand into a global digital player and won Magazine of the Year award in 2012 as well as an Emmy award. Stengel is the author of several books in addition to Information Wars, including the New York Times best-seller Mandela’s Way about his time collaborating with Nelson Mandela on the South African leader’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.
Why Book Richard Stengel for Your Event
A self-described “undiplomatic diplomat,” Richard Stengel has spent his career explaining America to the world and the world to America. He will bring his unique insights and colorful stories as a journalist, author, and statesman that will entertain and enlighten both U.S. and global audiences.
Richard Stengel on Mandela’s Leadership
Richard Stengel on The Hardening of Our Soft Power
Richard Stengel on Mandela and the Willingness to Lead
Richard Stengel's Speech Topics
The 2020 Election and Technology
With the 2020 presidential election just ahead of us, Richard Stengel is uniquely positioned to talk about the threats and dangers that disinformation and cyber-terrorism pose to a free and fair vote. Constantly monitoring updates and changes in the election space, Stengel has identified the key factors we need to keep in mind: Are there foreign actors, like the Russians and the Iranians, trying to sabotage the vote? What can we do to safeguard this sacred and indispensable ritual? Stengel shares his insights on political advertising, third-party fact-checking, disinformation campaigns, minority targeting, online voter suppression, trolls, fake accounts, and more.
Public diplomacy is a nation’s “soft power” – its culture, its values, its brand. It is how it projects itself to the world. American soft power has been one of its strategic advantages ever since John Winthrop described America as “a city upon a hill.” It was American soft power – as much as military might – that brought down the Berlin Wall. As Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Stengel used to say that he was the chief marketing officer for Brand USA. While there, he brought public diplomacy into the 21st century by making sure every ambassador was on social media and expanding the State Department’s digital footprint. In this talk, Stengel redefines public diplomacy as a “conversation” that a nation has with people around the world. And how we can always do it better.
Mandela & Leadership
Nelson Mandela used to say that every leader had one basic thing in common: the willingness to lead. Richard Stengel worked with the great South African leader on the latter’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, and then wrote his own book about Mandela called Mandela’s Way: Lessons in Life, Leadership and Love. Spending a year-and-a-half with Mandela, seeing him and talking to him every day, he and Stengel formed an unusual bond. Stengel will relay those unique insights to audiences -- what he found to be Mandela’s strengths and weaknesses as a leader, as well as his extraordinary self-discipline and vision honed by 27 years in prison.
Global Information Wars and Fake News
From his perch as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Stengel witnessed the global rise in disinformation coupled with increasing restrictions on press freedom. And what has been labeled “fake news” today is just the tip of the iceberg of state and non-state sponsored propaganda, disinformation, and outright lies. Stengel was the architect behind the global digitization of the State Department and can share with audiences where the United States is simply falling behind as it relates to its digital infrastructure. He not only diagnoses the problem, but recommends ways that countries, companies and individuals can fight back.
Works by Richard Stengel
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Author; Former Editor-in-Chief of Esquire Magazine and Former Chief Creative and Marketing Officer at Lands' End and Chicos FAS, Inc.