Astead Herndon and Lisa Desjardins: The Constitution, Elections, and Democracy

Elections postcard

Astead Herndon

Astead Herndon

Astead Hernson and Lisa Desjardins: The Constitution, Elections, and Democracy

Free and fair elections, transparently reported, are the foundation of a healthy democracy. Yet in the United States, the proliferation of media has shifted our nation’s political, cultural, and social landscape – and not always for the better.  As the nation waited to see the results of two special election races which would determine partisan control of the U.S. Senate, the New York Times’s Astead Herndon – who has reported on Michigan politics – was on the ground covering Georgia as it embraced its newfound status as a battleground state. Days later, reporting from inside the Capitol on January 6, PBS NewsHour’s Lisa Desjardins saw first-hand the consequences of the attack on our nation’s most visible symbol of democracy. In the second installment of the Presidential Roundtable series, journalists Herndon and Desjardins joined Grand Valley State University’s President Philomena V. Mantella and her predecessors Arend Lubbers, Mark Murray, and Thomas Haas for a conversation that delved into the role the media play in the election process and how to restore public faith in elections, journalism, and democracy.

The Presidential Roundtable Series is presented by Grand Valley State University, the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, assisted by the GVSU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, the Office of Student Life, the Frederik Meijer Honors College and its Padnos/Sarosik Civil Discourse Program.

Lisa Desjardins

Lisa Desjardins

Astead Herndon

Astead W. Herndon is a national politics reporter at The New York Times and a political analyst for CNN. Before joining The New York Times in 2018, Herndon held several reporter positions at The Boston Globe. Most recently, he was a national politics reporter, covering the Trump White House. He also spent time as a City Hall reporter and a general assignment Metro reporter. Mr, Herndon is from the Chicago suburbs and attended Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was included on Forbes Magazine's most recent 30 under 30 media list. 

Lisa Desjardins is a correspondent for PBS NewsHour, where she covers news from the U.S. Capitol while also traveling across the country to report on how decisions in Washington affect people where they live and work.

She specializes in breaking down complex stories and political disagreements into the key pieces that matter, often translating numbers and fiscal information into accessible stories for the audience.

Prior to joining NewsHour, Desjardins spent nearly ten years with CNN as a senior correspondent and Capitol Hill reporter. Prior to CNN, she reported for the Associated Press, WBTW-TV, WIS-TV, WTS-TV, Reuters, and The Sun News. At WIS in Columbia, South Carolina, she broke news of the compromise to bring down the Confederate flag from the statehouse dome.

Desjardins earned a bachelor’s degree at the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She also received a first level graduate degree in Russian Studies from the Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia.

Desjardins is the recipient of a Peabody Award for CNN’s coverage of the 2008 election and a Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi award for national breaking news for coverage of the Haiti earthquake.