Only a liberal would need a spreadsheet to know that Conservative Review is a “political” website.
It doesn’t take long to see what many of these sites have in common is not a flair for misinformation so much as an openness to the right-of-center perspective on current events. This is enough, it now seems, to land a credible news source on an academically certified blacklist.
But isn’t this the solution the Left has been waiting for since November 8? A neat, clean glossary to save readers the trouble of investigating the truth for themselves. Instead, one can merely look up the official status of the content that may be disturbing to his or her worldview and safely relegate it to the intellectual trash bin. How else should one be expected to assess merit in modern journalism?
No one denies there are sites whose mission is the dissemination of fabricated news. And yes, Harvard has included most of those in its magnanimous dossier. But what other sources was it sure to lump in? Tagged in one way or another you will find The Weekly Standard, Washington Examiner, The Daily Signal, Washington Free Beacon, Project Veritas, The Daily Caller, RedState, Breitbart News, and your very own CR.
Who will Harvard dispatch, one must wonder, to inform the collective millions of educated Americans who’ve frequented these sites for years that they are nothing more than the dupes of click-bait masters and propagandists?
We should hope it will not be the same visiting fellow who last month told The Guardian vis-à-vis the spike in fake news geared toward progressives:
That’s about as plain as you will see it. Liberals can be trusted to sift through the moss; conservatives cannot. Why? Because this Harvard fellow just told you so! Stop asking for evidence. Didn’t you hear me, I said Harvard.
Enlightenment thinkers once had every advantage over those afraid of open, intense debate.
Never mind that the progressive counterparts of the conservative sites above — all of which concede conservative mindedness (many in their very web addresses) — are not featured in the glossary. No Mother Jones, no BuzzFeed, no Huffington Post, no Slate, no Salon. The Ivy League investigators seemingly felt no compunction to tag these sites political or otherwise, even though one could spend purgatory searching their archives for a headline that matched the sensationalism of the underlying article. No, these sites are fair consumption. And no, the glossary dared not go near such revered establishments as Rolling Stone, CNN, CBS, Washington Post, or the sainted New York Times, even though their track records for integrity are about as unblemished as a greasy teenager.
The not-so-subtle blacklist is the Left’s latest attempt to tinge right-of-center media as untrustworthy and undeserving of a voice in serious national debate. And I won’t be the first to ask, but I’ll ask just the same: Who do you trust to tell you what to read? Who should get to decide what is safe content, what is reliable, what is approved for your sensitive eyes? The biggest brand-name college in the U.S. would sure like to claim this mantle for itself, based on, I suppose, its trusted reputation for objectivity?
It seems safe to say this is only the beginning of the Left’s cultural and academic envoys’ attempts to hijack the fake news debate and use it as another mechanism of silence, much like their renewed affinity for the Fairness Doctrine or their antipathy to conservative media outlets in the White House briefing room.
Enlightenment thinkers once had every advantage over those afraid of open, intense debate. How pompously professors used to hold up their “Inherit the Wind” paperbacks: “An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral!” How true to the notion of democracy the late Democrat statesman Adlai Stevenson was when he said: “My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.”
A few generations ago, liberals would have been horrified at the existence of a list that purported to tell you who ought to be read or heard and who ought to be silenced and shunned. But those liberals are gone. And Harvard has gift-wrapped us more evidence that the Right has become the true home of free expression in America.
Gaston Mooney is the Executive Editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @gastonmooney.