CNN commentator talks politics and tribalism at Iowa State


Caitlin Yamada/ Iowa State Daily

S.E. Cupp, a CNN commentator and columnist for the New York Daily News, spoke to Iowa State students and staff Thursday during the 2019 Greenlee Summit.

Lauren Ratliff

S.E. Cupp kicked off the 2019 Greenlee Summit.

Cupp, a CNN commentator and columnist for the New York Daily News, addressed an audience at 7 p.m. Thursday as part of Iowa State’s lecture series. She began by applauding Iowa State students for their investment and interest in politics.

The Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication chose a theme of civic democracy in the media for this year’s summit.

“I wish more young people, but also citizens, were as politically engaged as you guys seem to be here,” Cupp said.

She transitioned into a discussion where she said how good world is right now, but she quickly changed the tone of the address and began to talk about the little amount of change around the world.  

Cupp focused on the topic of politics in the media and spoke about the impact reporters and the media can have on politics. 

Cupp said the quote, “[w]e are addicted to distraction, and parched for genuine community.” from Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and expressed her thoughts on the impact social media has on the world.

Cupp said she believes as a society we need to care less about being liked. 

“When we start caring about how we are perceived by people in power, we’re doing it wrong,” Cupp said. “When we say things that are undeniably hypocritical, it corrupts our trust in each other.” 

Cupp added politics is similar to tribalism — it  exists to divide and dictate the population on who they get along with. 

She discussed how people commonly cling to tribalism and find people who have similar views. Cupp said she believes tribalism does not bring communities together, it only tears them apart.

Siddharth Nair, sophomore in computer science, said he agreed with Cupp when she addressed hate. 

“The first part where she talked about how hate is the biggest problem in the world right now, in the U.S. especially,” Nair said. “It’s a big factor in why we’re not progressing as a whole.”

The commentator discussed the importance of identifying extreme solutions in politics.

Cupp said most voters are not on one side or another, they are likely in the middle. She said she believes politics simply exist to divide and define people. 

Ian Reed, senior in speech communication, said he agreed with Cupp.

“It’s so important to have cooperation and unity between the press pool, and obviously between politicians,” Reed said. “They spend their time outside of the senate chambers bashing each other.”