Right-wing Campus 'Journalism' Goes Too Far
Kate Dolgenos | March 9, 2017, 11:28 p.m.
Right-wing college journalists have developed a highly effective modus operandi for getting the maximum amount of fame and notoriety from a controversial article. We all know the drill.
The journalists zero in on an aspect of so-called ‘PC culture’ that seems excessive. They write and produce an easy-to-digest article, often with quotes and screenshots lifted from students' personal social media pages, then slap it with a provocative headline.
When it has been posted on Facebook and their outraged relatives have commented on it, the journalists forward their article to their contacts at national conservative news outlets that specialize in clickbait, such as The Daily Wire, TheBlaze, and The Weekly Standard. The article is then picked up by more prominent news outlets, such as Fox News and The National Review (Katherine Timpf, a reporter for The National Review Online, almost exclusively covers anecdotes about political correctness on college campuses.)
Conservative student writers have a lot of incentives to produce this type of content. Writing articles that go viral (or, better yet, having a leadership position on a conservative news outlet with nationwide readership from clickbait stories) looks good on their résumés. And it’s important to note that, despite popular perception, these students are not morally bankrupt; they believe they are saving free speech and political discourse.
Regardless of your opinions on political correctness, this brand of clickbait conservatism is morally indefensible. The pieces run by right-wing college media often carelessly include names or personal information of the students involved in PC culture’s excesses, making them vulnerable to online harassment.
The problem is particularly acute if the article contains screenshots from social media, making it even easier to track down the subjects of the piece online. Comment sections on articles dealing with political correctness are filled with vitriolic racist hatred aimed at the “snowflakes” perpetrating PC culture.
In one recent Facebook comment section on the Claremont Independent’s page, commenters referred to students as “black b*tches” and “racist b*tches,” white women who had engaged in cultural appropriation were instructed to tell students of color to “eat sh*t and die,” and a student of color was threatened by someone who wanted to hit them “across their racist b*tch face.”
Citing free speech, the outlets that publish articles decrying political correctness typically refuse to delete or censor racist, sexist, or otherwise deplorable comments.
Even if you hate PC culture, you can object to the shoddy way that campus conservative news outlets smear their opponents. Personally, I believe that most of these anti-PC culture articles are sensationalist and overblown. Often, they are collections of quotes taken out of context and curated to engender maximum outrage from online conservative audiences.
Conservatives, however, are in near-universal agreement that political correctness and censorship on college campuses have reached absurd heights. But what is more immoral, writing an article about culturally appropriative food in Oberlin’s dining halls or doxing students of color and subjecting them to racist online harassment (even death threats, in some cases) for voicing their political views? Why have conservatives suddenly lost sight of what is important?
I do not want to downplay conservative concerns about free speech on liberal college campuses. It is impossible to have a productive discussion when any opinions that dissent from the far-left political mainstream are ignored, something that happens too often here. Revealing oneself to be a Republican, or even a moderate with reservations about PC culture, leads to open mockery, social ostracization, and a complete dismissal of one’s views.
I am a mainstream liberal, but because I am an outspoken Zionist, strangers in Claremont sometimes feel it is appropriate to interrogate my best friends about why they associate with me. Unsurprisingly, they treat actual conservatives like human scum. Republican students in Claremont are mocked in secret Facebook groups, harassed in public spaces, and roasted on anonymous meme pages.
It is easy to see why conservative student writers would believe that PC culture is evil and focus on writing clickbait condemnations of political correctness, rather than serious pieces about conservative ideas.
But the fact that people who dissent from the political mainstream here are treated unjustly does not excuse doxing ultra-liberal students, nor does it mean all politically correct arguments are stupid. Right-leaning opposition on campus is sorely needed, but this opposition should not be in the form of screenshot collections designed to mock PC culture.
If they must constantly write about PC culture, Republican student outlets should produce intelligent arguments refuting political correctness.
It would be even better if conservative outlets were to focus on conservatism, rather than juvenile mockery of their fellow students. Conservative student journalists should produce national stories, make a strong case for free markets, and advocate limited government.
Nobody wants to read another million articles implying that students of color are idiotic for not wanting their peers to wear sombreros on Halloween, especially if those stories violate students’ privacy or subject them to racist abuse. These students deserve better — and frankly, so does the conservative movement.
Note: I did not include links to conservative publications because I decided that it was immoral to include links to media outlets that make a habit of doxing their political opponents, and I did not want to contribute to the problem by increasing their readership.
Kate Dolgenos PO '17 is TSL's Opinions editor and a politics major from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She wears better shoes than you.