In this lesson, students will examine the role of celebrities and experts testifying in front of Congressional Committees. Specifically, they will a) understand the function of Congressional Committee hearings and b) evaluate the effectiveness and importance of celebrity and expert testimony.
- Congressional Committee
- Committee Chair
- Expert Witness
1) Introduce the topic of Congressional Committee hearings through an assigned reading and engage in a class discussion regarding their procedure and purpose.
3) Have students participate in a “Take a Stand” activity:
a) Post a “celebrity” sign on one side of the room and an “expert” sign on the other. Pose the
question, “Whose testimony before a Congressional Committee do you think would be more
b) Have students summarize their opinion in a brief paragraph. Students can use this to compare
their positions after completing the lesson.
c) Have students divide themselves into the two categories. Explain that the students may fall
somewhere in between the two choices, and should position themselves accordingly.
d) Have students from each group explain their rationale for their position.
4) Divide students into groups to view videos of celebrities and experts testifying before Congressional Committees. Group size will vary depending on class size, time available, and the number of videos you want each group to watch.
5) Assign each group one or more hearings to watch from below. As they are watching the testimony, have them complete the following handout and discuss their findings within the small group: Celebrity vs. Expert Testimony Handout (.PDF) or (Word Doc)
6) Have a member from each group report on their findings to the entire class. Ensure they summarize the issue and present the testimony of each participant and explain the effectiveness of each.
7) After hearing from each group, have students write an essay that should include:
a) The role of Congressional Committee hearings
b) The importance of testimony at the hearings
c) The effectiveness of both celebrities and experts giving testimony
d) Their opinion on the appropriateness and impact of celebrity testimony
1) Seth Rogen, Actor
2) Steve Colbert, Host and Executive Producer, The Colbert Report
(6 minutes): Represents the U.S. Apple Association and the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform and Farmer
(5 minutes): Host and Executive Producer, The Colbert Report
3) George Clooney, Actor
(6 minutes): USAID Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance Bureau – Assistant Administrator
(6 minutes): Actor, Satellite Sentinel Project Co-Founder and Human Rights Activist
4) LL Cool J, Rapper and Actor
(6 mins) Chair and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America
5) Oprah Winfrey and John Walsh, Television Hosts
(12 mins) Talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist
(10 mins) Television host of America’s Most Wanted
(5 mins) Inspector General for Texas Health and Human Services Department
6) John Travolta
7) Gabrielle Union, Actress (****Contains violent descriptive content which may offend****)
8) David Banner and Master P, Rappers and Actors (****David Banner testimony contains derogatory language which may offend****)
(6 mins) Hip Hop Artist (Contains language which may offend)
(6 mins) Hip Hop Artist now against violent content
9) Michael J Fox, Actor and Lonnie and Muhammed Ali, Boxer
Dr. Audrey Penn
(7 min) Director of National Inst. of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
10. Lars Ulrich (Metallica), Musician
(5 min) President, New Technology of Sony Corporation
11. Kevin Costner, Actor