Danielle Lee Tomson PhD is a writer, scholar, and strategist. She is a sought-after expert in topics including political social media influencers, populism, online political subcultures, performative politics, nationalism, "scammers," political polarization, tech platform policy, "misinformation," propaganda, narrative change, and civic tech.
She recently defended a doctoral dissertation on conservative social media influencers at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, which she is developing into a book. During graduate school, she was a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism and a graduate fellow at the Mellon Sawyer Seminar for Trust and Mistrust of Science and Experts (The Trust Collaboratory) at INCITE. She also consults for a variety of non-profit and corporate clients.
In her creative practice, Danielle explores American epistemologies and aesthetics by making "propaganda you can believe in" through IWR, a studio collective where she is a founding partner.
Danielle or her writing have appeared in The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, POLITICO, The Washington Post, CNBC, Civicist, Fox News, Brookings, Mother Jones, Coda, Medium, The Spectator UK, and the P.O.T.U.S. channel on Sirius XM in addition to a plethora of academic publications.
Previously, she was the Director of Forums @ Civic Hall, a community and education center for civic tech, where she curated events, knowledge, and people solving problems at the intersection of technology and civil society. She was also the Director of Personal Democracy Forum, a 15+ year running summit focused on tech, politics, and media that was started by the co-founders of Civic Hall.
In another life, Danielle was an innovation consultant, prototyper, and product manager for clients including Fortune 500 companies, multinational organizations, and nonprofits.
Danielle graduated with a B.A. from Yale University. She was raised on a horse farm in a family of scrap metal dealers in Western Pennsylvania.
C.V. available upon request.
Recent Writing and Appearances
Danielle's work has appeared in a variety of newspaper, magazine, and academic publications. She offers commentary on television, radio, and podcasts. Her older blogging can be found on Medium, but these days she has moved her weekly publication "Failure to Communicate" onto Substack, where you can subscribe to her work!
"In the end, CPAC did not hedge its bets by keeping relationships hot with other power players in conservatism and it is losing — in finances, numbers and appeal. They tried to mimic Trump’s populist allure and failed to do it authentically. In that process they have hurt Republicans more broadly, who no longer have a Big Tent activist event but instead have a Big Tent circus taking place on the ugly 2008-era carpeting of a cold convention center in Maryland."
"Mexico’s right-wing lacks brand recognition. There are no Mexican equivalents of the MAGA Republicans to the north or Bolsonaristas to the south. And in fact, all the excitement seems to happen on the other side: the Mexican political arena is currently dominated by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a left-wing figure consolidating power with appealing populist rhetoric, whose popularity has been so durable that he is widely called the 'teflon president.'
Enter CPAC México."
"Santos is getting exactly what he wants: attention. Like many of those in his generation, the 34-year-old millennial lawmaker has watched national recognition lead to power and influence. In an 'attention economy' like the ones created by social media platforms, attention is the most valuable currency, over truth or morality — even money. Santos is simply a product of his environment."