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Fairfax, VA – George Mason University’s Character Assassination and Reputation Politics (CARP) Research Lab hosts its second international conference “Character Assassination and Populism: Challenges and Responses” on March 15-17, 2019.

One primary characteristic of today’s global society is the growing public distrust in many traditional authorities. In the context of institutional legitimacy crisis, there is a great demand for new voices to trust. These changes provide opportunities for populists and charismatic opinion leaders of all kinds to promote their agendas and influence public opinion. Populist politicians often become primary newsmakers for clickbait content in the media that proliferates personal opinions, falsehoods, and unwarranted ad hominem attacks. Belligerent rhetoric also normalizes the culture of incivility which has negative consequences for civil debate in a well-functioning democracy.

The Research Lab for Character Assassination and Reputation Politics (CARP) includes scholars with disciplinary homes in psychology, history, communication and public relations. With investigators from both George Mason University and the University of Amsterdam, the CARP team focuses efforts along 3 main dimensions: research on historical and contemporary examples of character assassination; education for academic and public audiences about character assassination causes, impacts and prevention; and risk assessment to determine vulnerabilities and mitigation strategies for public figures concerned about their reputations.