Writers’ Panel Discusses Presidential Politics

September 13, 2011

Dallas Morning News Senior Political Writer Wayne Slater led fellow journalists Peggy Fikac (San Antonio Express/Houston Chronicle), Ken Herman (Austin American-Statesman) and Evan Smith (Texas Tribune) in a spirited discussion of what the entry of Texas Governor Rick Perry into the 2012 Presidential race means to Texas political journalists, now and in coming months.

The panel discussion marked the inaugural event of the Michele Kay Distinguished Speaker Series, memorializing the late Michele Kay; former business editor, Washington correspondent and columnist for the Austin American-Statesman… and a journalist of national stature.  The series will support the presentation of fresh insights regarding the practice and experiences of professional journalism; its challenges and its value to our society.


Recorded 9/13/11 at the Headliners Club, Austin
Run time: Approx. 53 min.


Wayne Slater is a Senior Political Writer for The Dallas Morning News. He previously served for 15 years as Austin bureau chief for The News covering national and state politics. He is a frequent guest on numerous network television shows and is co-author of two books, the New York Times best seller, Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential, published by John Wiley & Sons, and The Architect: Karl Rove and the Dream of Absolute Power, published by Random House.



Evan Smith is the CEO and editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune, which, in its first year in operation, won two national Edward R. Murrow Awards and a General Excellence Award from the Online News Association. Previously he spent nearly 26 years at Texas Monthly, retiring as the magazine’s president and editor-in-chief. For eight years, Smith hosted the weekly interview program, Texas Monthly Talks, that aired on PBS stations statewide. He currently hosts, Overheard with Evan Smith, airing on PBS stations nationally.



Peggy Fikac is Austin bureau chief and columnist for the San Antonio Express-News and Houston Chronicle. She covers government and politics – including Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential race. Before the Hearst newspapers merged their Austin bureaus, Fikac was Express-News’ bureau chief, starting just in time to jump on the campaign plane for George W. Bush’s first presidential race. At the time, she considered it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cover a Texas governor running for president. She previously worked for the Associated Press, specializing in public education coverage, where she traveled with the late Ann Richards during both of her campaigns for governor.



Ken Herman, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, is currently an editorial board member and columnist for the Austin American-Statesman. He began his journalism career in East Texas at the Lufkin Daily News in 1975. In 1977, Herman joined The Associated Press in Dallas, later moving to Harlingen to serve as the AP’s correspondent there and, in 1979, to Austin to join the AP’s Capitol staff. In 1988, he became Austin Bureau Chief for the Houston Post, a title he held until the paper folded in 1995. Herman then joined the American-Statesman as its Capitol Bureau Chief. From 2004-2009, he was the White House correspondent for Cox Newspapers.