Mark Harmon

Mark Harmon

Mark Harmon is a professor of journalism and media at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

STONE MOUNTAIN, GA - JUNE 16: Organizer Quintavious Rhodes addresses Black Lives Matter protesters during a march in Stone Mountain Park to the Confederate carving etched into the stone side of the mountain on June 16, 2020 in Stone Mountain, Georgia. The march is to protest confederate monuments and recent police shootings. Stone Mountain Park features a Confederate Memorial carving depicting Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, President Jefferson Davis. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Prague Points the Way to Museum of Racist Rebellion

By: - August 17, 2020

Last summer I was in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, and visited the Museum of Communism.  The museum had compelling exhibits on secret police interrogation, censorship, show trials, state propaganda, political labor camps, and the valiant but crushed 1968 uprising known as Prague Spring.  The statues of Lenin and Stalin are by the toilets.  […]

Eighty percent of drug overdose deaths in Tennessee during 2020 came from prescription and synthetic opioids.(Photo: Mint

Commentary: Vocabulary words work as political drugs

By: - August 3, 2020

Sometimes it takes a sharp mind and large vocabulary to distinguish between actual obscure and erudite words (useful for Scrabble and standardized tests) and the invented brand names for new pharmaceuticals being flogged in television advertising.  That’s when I stumbled on several good political words that work better as drug names. Drug Ad #1, Problem/Solution? […]

U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Tennessee, is one of hundreds of congresspeople permanently banned from Russia. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Column: Fact-Checking Tennessee Congressmen

By: - July 15, 2020

As the election heats up, we should remember three good fact-checking sites:,, and Fact Check is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.  Pulitzer-Prize-winning Politifact started in 2007 with a Florida newspaper and now is operated by the Poynter Institute.  Snopes began in 1994 by investigating urban legends, hoaxes, and folklore; […]

Tennessee House of Representatives Chambers (Photo: Tennessee Secretary of State)

Commentary: Green and Van Huss Unmasked as Disinformation Purveyors

By: - June 29, 2020

As June drew to a close two Tennessee Republicans, one congressman and one state legislator, unmasked themselves as purveyors of pandemic misinformation mixed with unhealthy doses of blather. On Friday, June 26, Congressman Mark Green led a Republican refuse-to-wear-masks revolt at an in-person oversight subcommittee hearing.  Green represents Tennessee’s 7th District.  He formerly served in the […]

Tennessee House of Representatives Chambers (iStock Editorial/Getty Images)

Commentary: State legislature fails us

By: - June 22, 2020

Now that our state legislature has finished its session, it’s time to tally the damage—not only from what Tennessee legislators did in our name, but also from what they failed to do.  Let’s start with the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the legislature and Governor Bill Lee were hell bent on ignoring expert-crafted health safety precautions, despite […]

(Ron Bailey/Getty Images)

Commentary: Gun Obsession Muddies Legislative Agenda

By: - June 2, 2020

Our state is struggling with a public health crisis, racial injustice issues, inadequate rural health care, record unemployment, and slumping tax revenues to sustain public schools.  So, what is a big focus of our state and local government?  Yup, guns. As May came to a close, Knox County Commission (a body on which I once […]

Marsha Blackburn waves her finger.

Commentary: Marsha’s madcap newsletter needs corrections

By: - May 26, 2020

Roughly every two weeks Tennessee U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn puts out her online and email newsletter, the Blackburn Report.  It has the usual array of public service and federal information links that any good congressional staff can produce.  Interspersed, however, are moments when Marsha lets her freak fly.  Politifact as of mid-May had a scorecard […]

Conservative radio host Elisha Krauss, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and conservative commentator Tomi Lahren at 2019 Politicon in Nashville(Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Politicon )

Knox County’s Mayor Grapples with Nonsense, and Loses

By: - May 18, 2020

Knox County’s mayor is Glenn Jacobs.  It’s his first elective office.  He is better known as the wrestler Kane, and before his election the only clues to his political inclinations were his anti-government online rants.  Unfortunately, those inclinations are causing trouble during a pandemic that requires not only faith in government abilities to take action, […]