Type: Public event
Host: Ford School

Democracy: What it takes


Molly Ball, TIME National Political Correspondent

Date & time

Mar 9, 2022, 4:30-5:30 pm EST


Weill Hall, Betty Ford Classroom (1110) (Also available virtually)
735 S. State Street Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Join us to hear from TIME National Political Correspondent Molly Ball in conversation with longtime political writer Craig Gilbert to kick off the Spring 2022 Democracy in Crisis series.

The 2020 election, conducted in the shadow of an unprecedented pandemic and a president determined to sabotage the vote, laid bare how fragile America's democratic institutions are. What did we learn from the weaknesses 2020 exposed? What efforts are underway to sabotage—and protect—the next national election? And how can we strengthen democracy going forward?

Attendance requirements

In-person attendance at this event is limited to current University of Michigan students, faculty, and staff. All attendees will be required to complete the ResponsiBlue screening before entering the building, and masks are required. Registration is required to attend.

The event will also be available virtually for those outside of the University, or University members who choose not to attend in-person. The link to join will be provided upon registration.

From the speakers' bios

A prominent voice on U.S. politics, Molly Ball serves as national political correspondent for Time and is a frequent television and radio commentator. She is the author of Pelosi, the first biography written with the House Speaker’s cooperation.

Prior to joining Time, Ball was a staff writer covering U.S. politics for The Atlantic. She previously reported for Politico, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and the Las Vegas Sun. She has worked for newspapers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Cambodia, as well as The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Ball is the recipient of the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting, the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency, the Sandy Hume Memorial Award for Excellence in Political Journalism, and the Lee Walczak Award for Political Analysis for her coverage of political campaigns.

A graduate of Yale University, she was a Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan in 2009-2010 and serves on the Livingston Award judging panel.

Craig Gilbert is the recently retired Washington Bureau Chief and national political reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He has covered every presidential campaign since 1988 and chronicled Wisconsin’s role as the nation’s most enduring political battleground.

Gilbert has written extensively about the battle for the swing states of the industrial Midwest, the region’s shifting political map, its increasingly polarized political culture and the deepening urban-rural divide.

His work has been recognized by Editor & Publisher, the National Press Foundation, the National Headliner Awards, the Milwaukee Press Club, and the Columbia Journalism Review, which called him the “most political science friendly reporter in America.”

Gilbert was a Knight-Wallace fellow at the University of Michigan; a writer in residence at the University of Wisconsin, and is currently a Lubar Fellow at the Marquette Law School.

Gilbert previously worked for the Miami Herald, the Kingston (NY) Daily Freeman and was a speechwriter for New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. He has a B.A. in History from Yale University. 

About the series

Democracy in Crisis: Views from the Press

U.S. democratic institutions are under attack. While law enforcement agencies and a Congressional committee still work to investigate the January 6, 2021 attacks on the Capitol – political violence aimed at blocking or overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election – a wave of subsequent efforts have continued to seek to undermine the norms and structures that have given Americans basic confidence in elections and in the peaceful transfer of power. Meanwhile, from state houses to the Supreme Court, bitter debates rage over voting rights, access, and security. 

The University of Michigan will host four award-winning journalists who will share their insights into the forces threatening and protecting American democratic structures and systems. The series is a partnership between the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Wallace House, and U-M Democracy & Debate 2021-22.

The Democracy in Crisis series will also explore the current state of journalism and the role of the press in upholding democratic institutions–at a time of demagogic attacks on the media and dramatic shifts in media ownership and independence.

The series begins with three events in March featuring Molly Ball, Barton Gellman, and Sarah Kendzior, and will culminate in a keynote lecture at the Michigan League by Pulitzer Prize winning author, journalist, and historian, Anne Applebaum, on April 4. 


Hosted by the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Co-sponsored by Democracy & Debate, Wallace House, Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum, and Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation.