When North Carolina recently enacted the Restore Campus Free Speech Act—affirming the right to individual expression on campuses statewide—conservatives everywhere breathed a sigh of relief. The silencing of conservative thought in academia has grown so deafening that the House Oversight Committee held a hearing solely dedicated to free speech at the end of July.
But while the “progressive” Left wages an overt war on free speech on college campuses, they’re quietly winning a covert war on conservative thought. Bolstered by the left-leaning mainstream media, the Left’s strategy can be boiled down into three steps.
Step One: Delegitimize Conservative Media
The Left and their media allies have defined “fake news” as information they feel promotes a particular worldview that is not their own. Of course, they have largely manufactured the term to wield as a club against conservatives.
In his most recent skit, HBO host John Oliver went after Infowars, calling it “the QVC for conspiracy.” Earlier in July, Oliver mocked Sinclair Broadcast Group for “dip[ping] below the journalistic standards of Breitbart.” He’s repeatedly targeted Breitbart for churning out supposedly sensationalist headlines.
But what about the Huffington Post? Salon? MSNBC? Not on Oliver’s list. Remember, these are the same outlets churning out headlines like “The Dirty Lie That All Lives Matter” and “I’m a Pedophile, You’re the Monsters: My Week Inside the Vile Right-Wing Hate Machine.” Nor would Oliver ever dare criticize The New York Times or CNN, which have consistently bungled stories about President Trump and the Republican Party. In June, CNN retracted a story connecting former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci to the Senate’s ongoing Russia investigations. Three journalists involved lost their jobs.
The Left’s priority is not to combat fake news; it is to make the American people question any news or opinion with even the slightest hint of conservatism.
Step Two: Reframe the Debate
If you consume mainstream media as I do, you’ve probably heard the “Republicans are moving to the right” narrative. You’ll often read headlines like “Moderate Republicans are an Endangered Species” and “Republicans Most Conservative They’ve Been in 100 Years.” This is nothing more than political spin disguised as objective reporting.
A political party led by a former Democrat from New York City is synonymous with “white supremacy”? The White House promoting Ivankacare and a $1 trillion infrastructure plan is suddenly “right-wing”? Meanwhile, the party that gave 43.1% of their primary votes to a self-proclaimed socialist is “centrist,” right?
The mainstream media continually promotes a duopolistic narrative of Democrats as sane and compassionate while smearing Republicans as insane or heartless, or both. It is Republicans who “would cause financial ruin for people” by repealing and replacing Obamacare, while Democrats are saving health care for millions of people.
Just consider two New York Times headlines in the immediate aftermath of last week’s healthcare vote. One read “On Health, Republicans Find They Cannot Beat Something with Nothing.” The other was “Republicans Worry that White House Disarray is Undermining Trump.” No, these are not opinion editorials; they are political statements masquerading as objective journalism.
Step Three: Squash Free Speech
Once the Left and their media allies have delegitimized conservative media and reframed the debate on their terms, they turn to silencing conservative commentators.
The memory of Molotov cocktails still burns at the University of California, Berkeley. In May, DePaul University banned Vice News co-founder Gavin McInnes for being “anti-feminist.” It did the same to Daily Wire editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro, who was threatened by campus security last November and recently shared his experiences with the House Oversight Committee.
At Evergreen State College, “woke” students and professors planned to force white people to leave campus for a “Day of Absence.” When one liberal biology professor—a Bernie Sanders supporter no less—questioned the decision, left-wing lunatics turned on him. That professor, Bret Weinstein, is now hiding with his family in another state. He recently filed a $3.8 million lawsuit against the college for, among other things, “fostering a racially hostile work and retaliatory environment.”
In the face of this radical alt-Left and their crusade against free speech, conservatives can fight back by embracing open dialogue—whether it comes from Ben Shapiro, a political organization, or even the Huffington Post. We need more speech and less “fake news” fearmongering.
Dan Backer is the founding attorney of political law, a campaign finance and political law firm in Alexandria, Virginia. He has served as counsel to more than 100 campaigns, candidates, PACs, and political organizations.