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Writer Ben Fountain On Our ‘Third Existential Crisis’

Brian Albers
Doug Fabrizio and Ben Fountain onstage at the Katherine W. and Ezekiel R. Dumke Jr. Auditorium.


As an essayist and novelist, writer Ben Fountain was an unlikely choice to pen a monthly column about the 2016 presidential election for the British newspaper, The Guardian. He’d never worked as a journalist, and although he’s passionate about U.S. politics, he had never written about a presidential election.

 But following Donald Trump, both on the campaign trail and in his Guardian column, allowed Fountain to dig deep into that particular moment of our society, leading him to declare that we have entered what he calls the country’s “third existential crisis,“ after the struggle over slavery and the Great Depression. Fountain joined us in February for the David P. Gardner Lecture, thanks to an invitation from the Tanner Humanities Center.

Doug Fabrizio has been reporting for KUER News since 1987, and became News Director in 1993. In 2001, he became host and executive producer of KUER's RadioWest, a one hour conversation/call-in show on KUER 90.1 in Salt Lake City. He has gained a reputation for his thoughtful style. He has interviewed everyone from Isabel Allende to the Dalai Lama, and from Madeleine Albright to Desmond Tutu. His interview skills landed him a spot as a guest host of the national NPR program, "Talk of the Nation." He has won numerous awards for his reporting and for his work with RadioWest and KUED's Utah NOW from such organizations as the Society of Professional Journalists, the Utah Broadcasters Association, the Public Radio News Directors Association and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.