Chase Whiteside and Erick Stoll, the two young journalists behind “New Left Media,” tell attendees at Tea Party and other conservative rallies that they are student journalists working on a school project in order to get them to talk openly on camera about their beliefs.
The two were most recently at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday for Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally, where some of those they interviewed were seemingly misled by the pair.
Whiteside told The Daily Caller in a phone interview that he and Stoll openly declare to everyone they interview that they are journalists “and that’s usually as far as it goes.” When interviewees ask for more details, Whiteside said that he and Stoll say they are from Wright State, which is a university in Dayton, Ohio.
Wright State sounds similar to Right State, and two women they interviewed at Beck’s rally Saturday told TheDC that they thought Whiteside and Stoll worked for RightState.com, a non-existent, but conservative-sounding political website — which many rally-goers could have confused with the conservative website RedState.com.
On teapartytracker.org — a new website that describes its purpose as monitoring “racism and other forms of extremism within the Tea Party movement” — Stoll and Whiteside’s New Left Media is listed as a founding partner of the website, along with the NAACP, Media Matters and Think Progress.
The two women at the “Restoring Honor” rally who TheDC talked to said they felt comfortable talking to Stoll and Whiteside because they thought they worked for a conservative website and thought the two were working on a school project. The women said Stoll and Whiteside didn’t identify themselves as reporters for New Left Media, which Stoll and Whiteside say is their college thesis project.
Whiteside said it’s not his or Stoll’s fault if an interviewee confuses Wright State with Right State.
“As part of our thesis project, we’re doing sort of documentary journalism,” Whiteside told TheDC. “As part of our thesis project, we’re going around covering media narratives that are manifest in the public and the voting public. We’re interested in seeing which things are reported on Fox News and which things are reported on other networks, like, for instance, the mosque controversy.”
While Whiteside and Stoll have covered issues other than conservative rallies, they haven’t brought the same intensity in their questioning when their topic has a liberal slant. For instance, when the duo covered the gay marriage issue in Maine last November, they didn’t ask follow-up questions on camera like they have done when interviewing Tea Partiers.
“We do not consider gay marriage to be a political issue,” said Whiteside. “We don’t think pressuring gay couples who just want to get married is a good thing.”
At Tea Party rallies, Whiteside and Stoll have only interviewed individual attendees, not organizational leaders, and therefore have decided not to publish the names of those they interview. Whiteside said he and Stoll have tried to get a hold of Tea Party leaders for an interview, but have so far been unsuccessful in their efforts.
“We have tried extensively to get leaders of the Tea Party to talk to us,” Whiteside said. “It has been excruciatingly difficult.”