Craig Smith, a former presidential speechwriter and prolific author is the recipient of two prestigious national awards. The director of CSULB’s Center for First Amendment Studies will be presented the pair of awards at the National Communication Association’s (NCA) 100th annual convention in Chicago, Nov. 20-23.
Smith, who is a professor of Communication Studies and founder of the Center for First Amendment Studies at CSULB, will receive the Bruce Gronbeck Award, given to those whose work has interpreted or addressed theoretical-conceptual, historical and critical-culture issues of political communication. And, for the third time, he will receive the Robert O’Neil Award, given for outstanding scholarship on First Amendment issues.
“I knew Bruce for a long time since both of us were in political communication,” said Smith, noting that Gronbeck’s last Facebook posting before his passing on Sept. 10 was congratulating him on the award. “There was a call for nominations and I was nominated by several professors. It’s a nice award. Bruce has published a lot of articles and books on political communication and I think that’s why the National Communication Association decided to honor him by naming this particular award after him.”
The O’Neil award comes from the Freedom of Expression Division of the NCA.
“I wrote the award-winning paper with my center’s research director Professor Kevin Johnson, who was once a student of mine here,” said Smith. “So I am doubly proud of that award.”
Smith has been honored a number of times throughout his career, including being named the Outstanding Professor on the campus in 2000 and earned a similar title from the National Speakers Association in 1997. He has also received campus awards for Distinguished Teaching in 1997 and Distinguished Scholarship in 1994.
Also, Smith has served as a consultant to CBS News for convention, election night and inaugural coverage. He was a full-time speechwriter for President Gerald Ford and Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca and served as a consultant to President George H.W. Bush and Gov. Pete Wilson, among others.
A prolific writer, Smith has authored 18 books and more than 60 scholarly articles and book chapters. A couple of his most recent works include Confessions of a Presidential Speechwriter and Herod from Hell: Confessions and Reminiscences. Currently, he is working on a scholarly article on romantic rhetoric.
“The Romantic poets, in reaction to the Enlightenment, which they thought depended too much on reason and science, then also revolting against the Industrial Revolution, return to nature and there’s a whole set of tenets of that movement I want to bring to rhetorical theory,” he said. “The emphasis is on narrative storytelling and folklore and emphasis on nature and the beauty of nature and an emphasis on nationalism and indigenous nationalism in particular. So I want to revive that whole theory from the Romantic poets and apply it to persuasion.”
Some of Smith’s studies on the First Amendment include A First Amendment Profile of the Supreme Court (John Cabot University Press, 2011), Freedom of Expression and Partisan Politics (University of South Carolina Press), Silencing the Opposition: Government Strategies of Suppression (State University of New York Press, 2nd ed. 2011) and The Four Freedoms of the First Amendment (Waveland, 2004). He regularly publishes editorials in such prestigious newspaper as the Miami Herald, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post.
“You begin your career by writing a lot of articles and books and you end your career, if you’re lucky like me, getting a lot of awards,” said Smith. “I’m not one to just sit around, I’ve never been able to do that. I have to be learning, reading or writing.”