The political world descends on Austin: Texas Tribune Festival 2022

todaySeptember 28, 2022 47

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Emma Jones 

News Reporter 


Last weekend, the KTSW News Team visited Austin, Texas for the Texas Tribune Festival,  an annual event held by the Texas Tribune designed to bring Texans closer to politics.  


The festival took place in Downtown Austin. This was the first year since the COVID-19 Pandemic that the festival has been held in person. Packed with over 120 sessions, we had the opportunity to see famous politicians speak, like Hillary Clinton, Beto O’Rourke, Ted Cruz ,and Gavin Newson.  




On Friday morning we started off our weekend by registering for the event and picking up our badges, we then split up to attend our first panels of the day. I went to The State of Public Education which featured Commissioner Mike Morath and two superintendents. They talked about how public-school students and teachers survived the past few years and the current state of Texas public education. 


Next, I went to the State of Higher Education, featuring Commissioner Harrison Keller and four Texas university chancellors. We got to meet Mr. Brian McCall, the Texas State University chancellor. In this panel, we discussed how campuses, faculty and students endured the past few years.  



Brian McCall (middle), Texas State University Chancellor, with reporters Emma Jones (left) and Maxwell Zaborowski (right).


After this we went to the One-on-One with Hillary Clinton, the former U.S. Secretary of State and former presidential candidate. Clinton was interviewed by Kara Swisher, the Co-Host of the New York Media’s “Pivot” Podcast. They talked about Clinton’s run for president in 2016, her opponent, Donald Trump, and her new Apple TV show called “Gutsy.” 



Hillary Clinton


Next, we ate lunch before attending our last panel of the day. We went to No Bull from the Bulwark, a discussion between three digital news organization’s leading voices on how politics and political parties got so broken. We heard Charlie Sykes, Editor-At-Large of the Bulwark; Amanda Carpenter, Columnist for the Bulwark; and Tim Miller, “Not My Party” host and author at the Bulwark.  


We ended the day by visiting the Texas State Capitol, it was my first time ever visiting and it was so fun to see where our government officials work.  




On Saturday, we arrived even earlier than the previous day. We attended the Students Only BreakFEST, where we got free tacos and coffee, and we got to connect with other students attending the festival. We also were able to hear Mr. Joe Kahn, Executive Editor of The New York Times speak, and met the Texas Tribune staff. 


Next, we attended After Roe, where we listened to Wendy Davis, former State Senator; Donna Howard, a Texas Representative from Texas; Alexis McGill Johnson, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood; and Ana Marie Cox, columnist for The Cut, discuss the state of women’s health, rights and an uncertain future after the overturn of Roe vs. Wade. 


After this, we waited in line to hear the One-On-One with Ted Cruz. David Drucker, Senior Correspondent at the Washington Post had a discussion with the U.S. senator from Texas about his problems with the Biden Administration, and his battle for the GOP.  


Next, we walked through the festival and visited the many tents that organizations and sponsors had set up in Downtown Austin. We got a lot of free merch, like pins and posters. We also had the opportunity to meet Carl Bernstein, the legendary journalist who uncovered the Watergate scandal in 1972. 


Carl Bernstein (right middle) with Emma Jones (left), Jordan Young (left middle) and Maxwell Zaborowski (right) 

Then I went to a tent and sat down for the One-on-One with Chris Bosh, a former NBA athlete. He talked about what it takes to be a great athlete, the importance of education and voting, and his life after sports. 


Next, we went to the One-on-One with Beto O’Rourke, the democratic nominee for governor of Texas. O’Rourke and Lawrence Wright, Staff Writer for the New Yorker talked about the upcoming 2022 election, and the most important issues at play: gun-control, abortion rights and more.  


Beto O’Rourke


After this, we met with Greg Casar for an interview. Greg Casar is a progressive Democrat running for Congress in Texas District 35. The interview will be released soon on the KTSW Blog. 


Lastly, we attended the One-on-One with Gavin Newson, the California Governor. Alex Wagner, the host of “Alex Wagner Tonight” on MSNBC discussed with the governor what the nation’s most populous state can teach the other U.S. states. 


Overall, my experience at the Texas Tribune Festival was incredible, I got to meet so many interesting people and it was fun to visit the state capitol for the very first time. I enjoyed hearing so many famous politicians speak and learning more about politics. The Texas Tribune Festival is meant to enhance the knowledge people have of our political system and I feel as if thats exactly the experience I got. I cant wait to attend Tribfest again. 

Written by: Preethi Mangadu

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