Esteemed writers’ conversation ranges from politics to pop culture

Journalist Frank Rich and author Fran Lebowitz pulled no punches Monday when it came to expressing their opinions of the current state of politics in the United States at an event in Bovard Auditorium. The two delivered strong comments about topics, including abortion, health care and Tuesday’s upcoming presidential debate.

Commentary · Writers Frank Rich (left) and Fran Lebowitz discuss the state of culture and interest in politics in the United States at a Visions and Voices event Monday night in Bovard Auditorium. – Austin Vogel | Daily Trojan

The Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism and the Interfraternity Council sponsored “A State of the Union Conversation: An Evening with Frank Rich and Fran Lebowitz,” a Visions and Voices event.

The speakers’ strong opinions elicited responses from the audience, usually in the form of a rousing round of applause.

“I am hoping that unlike last time, I will not have the impulse to jump through the television set like I did last time and say to the president ‘Move over, I’ll do it,’” Lebowitz said. “These are not debates at all — they bare no resemblance to debates. It’s more a question of who’s going to win this boxing match.”

Lebowitz has written two books of essays, Metropolitan Life and Social Studies, that have been collected in the Fran Lebowitz Reader. She has been called forthright and unapologetically opinioned, as she is known for her strong statements.

Rich was equally opinionated, often guiding the conversation by asking Lebowitz questions of various themes. Another issue the pair brought up was the lack of intellectual discourse in modern politics.

“It seems when you watch a presidential debate, it seems more like a reality show where the issues don’t even register,” Rich said.

Lebowitz made a similar connection to the role reality television and politics play in society.

“Maybe the way that these two things could work together is that someone could convince the Kardashians to go to Afghanistan,” Lebowitz said. “We’d have A, the virtue of getting them out of this country and B, the millions of people who are watching the Kardashians would pay attentions to the wars.”

The audience reacted positively to the duo’s banter, laughing and clapping at all their jokes.

“They are both renowned authors and journalists who have a lot of knowledge on the current political issues that are very significant in this upcoming election,” IFC President Michael Madden said. “It’s important for students to care about politics because it’s important for everyone to be informed about current events and the current economic and political environment of our country.”

Omri Horowitz, IFC vice president of public relations, said the role young people play in society makes this event even more important.

“College students are trendsetters and have a high sphere of influence in today’s society,” Horowitz said. “With this territory comes the responsibility of being knowledgeable and up to date with global topics. Our own nation’s political state is key to our individual future success on an economic level, on a foreign relations level and in terms of social issues legislation.”