I’m writing a little off topic today.
Walter Cronkite was at one period, the most trusted man in America. It was so because he did not allow his personal feelings, beliefs or point of view to interfere with the truth, and he refused to give news that was not thoroughly vetted. For much of twenty years, it was not possible to discern from his newscasts what his personal political views were, and for that reason he remains the epitome of journalistic excellence and perhaps purity.
Sadly, there is likely no person alive today in the field of journalism who comes within 10,000 miles of Walter Cronkite’s integrity, not a single one. But there are quite a few institutions that bear Cronkite’s name. One is the Cronkite Radio Station at Arizona State University. You would expect this student run station to reflect the excellence and integrity inherent in the Cronkite name. However, it appears not.
Today, it was reported in the New York Post that a student journalist at ASU who tweeted an article which appeared in the New York Post last month reporting details of the sexual assault charges pending against Jacob Blake, the Kenosha man shot by police after resisting arrest, had been not only “canceled” but removed from her “role at the school’s radio station for tweeting about Jacob Blake’s past accusations of sexual assault”. Of course we are all familiar with the riots, unrest, chaos, killing, destruction of property by BLM and Antifa which burned and crushed Kenosha, all in the name of Blake.
Main stream media outlets have thus far mostly avoided reporting on all of the facts regarding Blake’s past, arrest and shooting, as those inconvenient truths undercut the narrative that racism was the primary cause of Blake’s shooting, not his violent background, the outstanding arrest warrant for sexual assault, the 911 call by the woman he assaulted for violating the outstanding restraining order against him, brandishing a knife during the arrest and refusing to drop it, and resisting arrest. Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris referred to Blake as a hero and how “proud” of him she is. That is the narrative some wish to be kept sacrosanct, though it does not do justice to the truth.
Rae’Lee Klein, the 21-year-old former station manager, said she tweeted the article detailing facts about Blake because after reading about the sexual assault during which Blake after breaking into her house digitally penetrated the victim against her will in front of her young daughter, Klein was “disgusted”. The new Post article (https://nypost.com/2020/09/18/arizona-student-journalist-cancelled-over-jacob-blake-tweet/) states “Speaking by phone Friday, the senior said that as a woman, she was “disgusted” by the Blake claims, which included an alleged violent sexual assault that took place in front of a child, so she decided to tweet about it.” Klein went on to say “I was just trying to do A, what I was assigned to do and B, what I thought was my job as a journalist, which is to share an important part of the story.” Walter Cronkite could not have said it better, and he would have been proud of her for doing so.
Following the tweet, Klein was inundated with “a huge amount of backlash” from “fellow coeds and her peers at the radio station.” These detractors said it was insensitive to tweet these facts, and it offended them and “made them feel unsafe and uncomfortable…” Imagine that. The truth certainly does hurt at times. Imagine attending a state university in this day and age, working for the University newspaper, bearing the name of the greatest journalist in the nation’s history known for his honesty and objectivity, and not wanting to hear, discuss or report the truth or the facts, inconveniently true as they are.
Ms. Klein’s “discipline” by the school consisted of three choices, none of which are in the least palatable, and none which allowed her to stick by her journalistic guns. Klein was mystified because “I wanted to get into it to change that because I truly believe journalism is supposed to be this linkage institution from the people to the policy and deliver the full truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
Hypocrisy, irony, journalistic betrayal, snowflakes are all words that come to mind here. The school should abandon the Cronkite name since it clearly has no idea what Walter Cronkite stood for. It is ironic that a station that carries that name would censor the truth because it is inconvenient. Walter would never do that, and never did. One can only imagine what the school curriculum is actually teaching about journalism that will prepare these students to actually produce journalistic pieces that are valuable and written with integrity, given these obvious flaws in the school’s thinking. As far as snowflakes are concerned, a little truth goes a long way to understanding the situation, even if the truth is inconvenient and does not support the actions undertaken by the journalist’s preferred position (again, a stark betrayal of the Cronkite name).
I provided a link to today’s’ NY Post article detailing the abuse Ms. Klein suffered above. As for what she should do about this situation, since Arizona State University is a public institution, it is subject to the freedom of speech provided by the First Amendment, and the school’s attempt to censor her violates her First Amendment rights. It is typical these days for certain political ideologies to believe that only their speech is protected and that “feelings” trump free speech. That is simply not true. In fact one of the great lessons of university life for young students is to get over themselves and learn that there are many, many differing opinions from theirs, and they need to learn how to deal with different points of view. However, most universities today are completely unable to guarantee free speech to certain ideologies, and in fact actively censor speech which does not comport with the Universities’ far left points of view.
I’m quite sure if Klein decided to sue the school for denying her free speech, there are probably many, many thousands of people who would gladly contribute to her legal defense in order to guarantee that the facts and truth regarding news is brought to light no matter how inconvenient, especially in these times of chaos and civil unrest arising from what in most cases appears to be far less than “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”