CLA Speaks 2019-20

The Search for Truth

A film screening and discussion with journalist john walcott

Shock and Awe

Monday, November 4 

6:30 p.m. 
Spanos Theatre

During the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, one group of reporters at the Knight Ridder Washington Bureau went out on a limb to report the truth. Rob Reiner’s 2018 film “Shock and Awe” tells the story of bureau chief John Walcott and his reporters on the hunt for weapons of mass destruction. Join the College of Liberal Arts for a viewing of the film and a guided discussion afterward with Walcott and journalism professor and former KCOY news anchor/reporter Patti Piburn, about the relationship between our government and the news media then—and today.



John Walcott

About Walcott
John Walcott has had a long career covering foreign policy and national security. Most recently, he was Foreign Policy and National Security Editor for Thomson Reuters. Prior to that he was Team Leader for National Security and Foreign Affairs at Bloomberg News. Previously, he was the Chief Content Officer and Editor-in-Chief of SmartBrief.

Walcott has been Washington Bureau Chief for McClatchy (owner of the Sacramento Bee, and 28 U.S. newspapers, including the SLO Tribune), foreign editor and national editor of U.S. News & World Report, national security correspondent at The Wall Street Journal and a correspondent at Newsweek.

He is the inaugural winner of the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard and was also the Knight Ridder Washington bureau chief. Walcott's work has won the Edward M. Hood Award and the Freedom of the Press Award from the National Press Club and three Overseas Press Club awards.

Rob Reiner played Walcott in the 2017 movie "Shock and Awe," the story of Walcott and his reporters at the Knight Ridder Washington Bureau who investigated the reasons behind the Bush Administration's 2003 invasion of Iraq. In 2005, he was part of a team that won a National Headliners Award for “How the Bush Administration Went to War in Iraq.” He is co-author of the book “Best Laid Plans: The Inside Story of America’s War Against Terrorism.” 


Founded in 2015, CLA Speaks is the annual speaker series for Cal Poly's College of Liberal Arts. This interdisciplinary series showcases the ways that disciplines in the College of Liberal Arts shape important and meaningful conversations about our world, our cultures, and our imagination. 

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