The Collegian
Wednesday, February 28, 2024

CNN anchor discusses new book for podcast taping

<p>Host of NPR's "Full Disclosure" Roben Farzad interviews CNN's John Avlon on his new book, "Lincoln and the Fight for Peace" at the Ukrop Auditorium on Feb. 24.&nbsp;</p>

Host of NPR's "Full Disclosure" Roben Farzad interviews CNN's John Avlon on his new book, "Lincoln and the Fight for Peace" at the Ukrop Auditorium on Feb. 24. 

CNN anchor John Avlon encouraged the audience of the live taping of NPR’s “Full Disclosure” to learn from history to avoid making the same mistakes on Feb. 24 at the Ukrop Auditorium. 

The senior political analyst discussed his most recent book, “Lincoln and the Fight for Peace,” which explores the strategies used by Abraham Lincoln for peace-making and dealing with conflict, for the podcast hosted by journalist Roben Farzad.

To Avlon, the most important quality that a president can have is character, and he said that Lincoln embodied this through the compilation of reporting and historical facts presented in the book.

“We want to be guided by our history, not imprisoned by it,” Avlon said about the importance of confronting our history and learning as much from it.

Media doesn’t have anything to do with current conflicts, other than illuminating it for the world to see in real-time, he said.

“If you didn’t have reporters from places like CNN on the front lines in Ukraine while Russia said it had any intention of invading, then they could possibly still be denying what is happening right now,” he said.

There is also a need for ethical journalism in the pursuit of truth, especially during these difficult times when people are in need of reliable sources of information, Avlon said.

“Accountability journalism is incredibly important,” Avlon said. “It helps keep democracy on track.” 

Having done historical research and reporting in Richmond, Avlon was familiar with the controversy surrounding Confederate statues and the renaming of buildings on campus, he said after the talk.

“I think we make a mistake when we project our current values on people who lived in the past,” he said. “There are no excuses for those statues and whatever comfort they provided their descendants, but I don’t think they should be destroyed. I think they should be put in museums so we can learn from our history.”

The audience should remain united with a sense of hope and perspective to help each other amidst a potential second civil war in the country—a product of how politically divided the population is, Avlon said.

“One of the things that history teaches us, in particular, is that we’ve been through far worse times before,” Avlon said. “We’ve been far more divided.”

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Sophomore Tyler Concaugh had been following Avlon’s previous work and said he had been excited to see him.

“His idea that there’s no superiority in morality, especially when he talked about Lincoln and how he treated people with kindness despite their differences, I think that’s one of the most important lessons we can take from the talk,” Concaugh said.

The “Full Disclosure” live taping was one of the first in-person speaker series events of the year, which attracted a variety of students like Concaugh hoping to participate in events that were not available last year because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“I would absolutely attend more events like this in the future”, Concaugh said, “I wish we could do these every week. I have not read the book, but I’ll be reading it as soon as I get back home.”

Accounting Professor Nancy Bagranoff enjoyed attending Avlon’s talk, she said.

“I thought it was great when he talked about Lincoln’s characteristics that made him such a great leader and how he behaved during his riding through Richmond on April 4th of 1865,” she said. “I also liked when John Avlon noted that the best quality of a president is character.”

Bagranoff said that the subject of the book — Lincoln’s strategies in peace-making through tolerance and discourse — led her to attend the event in the first place.

“I’ve been to many speaker series events at the business school throughout the years, and this is my first in-person event of the year,” she said.

Bagranoff had not been to an in-person book signing event in years, but she looks forward to future speakers, she said.

Contact notes from the margins editor Nicole Llacza Morazzani at


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