To celebrate the fourth anniversary of the opening of the Washington Library, we are hosting an old-fashioned debate exploring Freedom of the Press: From the Founding to Today. Our discussion will showcase the importance of historical debate and civil discussion in the survival and maintenance of our democracy.

The Founding Debates are sponsored by The Ammerman Family Foundation to honor James C. Rees, whose vision lives on with the Washington Library.

Date and Time




David M. Rubenstein Leadership Hall
Fred W. Smith National Library
3600 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy.
Mount Vernon, VA 22121

Freedom of the Press: From the Founding to Today

Preeminent scholars, historians, and journalists will defend their positions. The panel will include Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Edward J. Larson representing the founding era; legal historian Jeremy Bailey speaking to freedom of the press in a broader legal context; and CNN journalists Gloria Borger and Mark Preston discussing how freedom of the press has evolved both in the public conscious and in the newsroom.

Header Image: Signing of the Constitution, Howard Chandler Christy, 1939. Courtesy of the Architect of the U.S. Capitol. 

Edward J. Larson is a University Professor of history and holds the Hugh & Hazel Darling Chair in Law at Pepperdine University. He is a Senior Fellow of the University of Georgia’s Institute of Higher Education, and a visiting professor at Stanford Law School. He received the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for History for his book Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion. He has authored nearly one hundred published articles including The Return of George Washington. Larson was a member of the 2013–14 inaugural class of fellows at The Washington Library.

Jeremy D. Bailey holds a dual appointment in Political Science and the Honors College at the University of Houston. His research interests include executive power, constitutionalism, and American political thought and development. His current book project is The Idea of Presidential Representation: An Intellectual and Political History. His major publications include James Madison and Constitutional Imperfection; The Contested Removal Power1789-2010, which was named a 2014 “Outstanding Academic Title” by Choice; "The New Unitary Executive and Democratic Theory;" and Thomas Jefferson and Executive Power.

Gloria Borger is CNN's chief political analyst, appearing regularly on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper's AC360 and across the network's primetime programs. Borger plays an instrumental role in the network's daily coverage while reporting on a variety of political and breaking news stories, including America's Choice 2016, the Supreme Court rulings of 2015, the 2014 midterm elections and more. She has been a prominent part of all recent CNN election coverage and was pivotal to CNN's Emmy award-winning election night coverage in 2012. She also played a key role in the network's historic America Votes 2008 coverage, which earned CNN a Peabody Award.

Mark Preston is CNN's executive director of political programming and senior political analyst. He hosts Full Stop with Mark Preston on SiriusXM's POTUS 124. Preston joined CNN in 2005 as political editor and has received a number of prestigious honors, including Emmys in 2006 and 2012 for the network's award-winning election night coverage. In 2008 he played a key role in the network's Peabody Award-winning coverage of the presidential primary debates and campaigns. Additionally, Preston's work contributed to CNN earning a National Headliner Award in 2009 and an EPPY Award in 2009.

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