CBS Sunday Morning’s War of Words on College Campuses

BY JOHN K. WILSON

Today on CBS Sunday Morning, the main cover story was devoted to “A war of words on college campuses.” It’s a completely one-sided war, if you listen to CBS, exclusively fought by leftists trying to silence conservatives. Unfortunately, this kind of media bias is common in covering political correctness, as it has been for decades. The real picture of what is happening on college campuses gets ignored.

The story began, “In the 1960s college students demanded the right to talk about anything on campus, from civil rights to opposing the Vietnam War. All ideas seemed up for debate. But is that still true today?”

No, it’s not true. But it wasn’t true in the 1960s, either. There was enormous repression on campus in the 1960s (mostly of it directed against the left), and there were some leftist students back then who argued for censorship of the right as a tool of activism.

The only professor quoted in the entire piece was Allison Stanger, the victim of the attack at Middlebury. The biggest screen time was offered to Charles Murray, who was given fawning treatment as a scholar “just reporting on his academic research” about the gap between rich and poor.

CBS talked about the University of Missouri where “students and faculty try to stop a student reporter from covering their protest” but mentioned nothing about the political pressure to fire a Missouri professor without due process, which led to AAUP censure.

Not a word in the story about the stream of leftist scholars fired by colleges recently for their controversial views. The only mention of censorship by the right is when the rapper Common was included in a list of speakers disinvited, but with no indication that conservatives were actually the cause behind Common’s disinvitation. And the other speakers mentioned, Condoleezza Rice and Christine Lagarde, weren’t disinvited at all but chose to withdraw because they were afraid of protests.

CBS cited the University of Chicago as a model of “constant open discourse,” without a hint about the hypocrisy of the administration, which has a flawed record on free expression.

If you watched CBS Sunday Morning, you would imagine that only conservatives are silenced on campus, while a reporter bemoans the horrors of pulling out a dictionary to find out about terrifying ideas like “safe spaces” or “trigger warnings” (rather ironic on a network that has aired content warnings before shows for two decades and bans the use of certain offensive language under government orders).

This kind of media coverage is one of the (many) reasons why censorship by the left is a bad idea. Shouting down speakers only reinforces the myth that only conservatives are silenced on college campuses. Bad journalism is one of the problems we have to overcome in protecting free speech for everyone on campus.

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