Media bias and campus chaos
Once upon a time, I actually thought the media was pretty neutral. Maybe it was back then, but if it was, it sure abandoned that a long time ago.
During that same time, I thought college campuses were places where free speech was respected. Back then, they largely were, with a few exceptions. That’s not the case in this day and age, either.
What do those two facts have to do with one another other than what I used to believe is something I don’t know?
Conservative activist and podcast host Charlie Kirk’s speaking engagements on college campuses have generated some loaded headlines recently.
Sacramento Bee: “Another far-right speaker is coming to UC Davis. How should the community respond?”
Chicago Tribune: “UIC Students Will Protest Far-Right Speakers Charlie Kirk, Candace Owens Thursday.”
Nebraska Examiner: “Provocateur Charlie Kirk’s visit to Lincoln brings protesters, alleged vandalism.”
The titles and implication are right there for readers to see: Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens aren’t merely dubbed conservatives or podcast hosts. Instead, they’re placed into the “far-right” category. And the third headline is also obvious in its bias: Kirk isn’t named as the founder and president of Turning Point USA, a conservative student organization. No, instead he’s a “provocateur” while actual vandalism is “alleged vandalism.”
Let’s compare the headlines Kirk and Owens received to the benign headlines written for liberal speakers on campus:
The Diamondback (University of Maryland): “UMD progressive student group hosts Our Revolution President Nina Turner.”
CBS News: “Kamala Harris to deliver keynote address during Coast Guard commencement.”
Well, that’sodd. There’s no label attached to Nina Turner, a self-described Democratic socialist and staunch Bernie Sanders supporter, as being “far-left.”
Or are any labels applied to Kamala Harris, who was the most liberal U.S. senator before becoming vice president, according to a 2019 ideology score by the non-partisan GovTrack.
This isn’t unusual, either.
Does anyone else remember when the Washington Post described an ISIS leader as an “austere religious scholar” and got mocked for it?
The truth of the matter is that the media has given up any pretense of being unbiased, yet one can’t help but wonder if this is a reflection of the chaos we tend to see on American college campuses or the cause of it.
Perhaps more importantly, does it matter?
Sure, we can make the case that if we identify the cause, we can figure out a solution, but since none of us are in any position to solve any of this, it seems unlikely that our solutions will ever be put in place.
Yet it’s still interesting to see how the framing is different between the right and the left.
Everyone from the right is some kind of danger, something to be feared, while all leftist speakers are worthy of dignity and respect.
There is a case that such framing sort of primes the students to be aggressive and belligerent. There’s also a case to be made that the media doesn’t care if that’s the case, they just don’t like people from the right.
Either way, the bias is obvious, as is the fact that any right-leaning speaker who agrees to set foot on a college campus has to be prepared for something like this. At some point, though, we’re going to stop seeing right-of-center speakers even being invited. As Concha points out in his piece, though, that’s sort of already happening.
Soon, they’ll have their echo chamber complete.
At that point, things are going to get real sporty as people suddenly find themselves without the ability to even remotely entertain a contrary thought.
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