Intellectual Freedom

Issues ››› Intellectual Freedom
  • Why Media Should Be Skeptical Of Koch Brothers' New Anti-Poverty Group

    ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Officials from the Koch brothers' funding arm have announced a new "venture philanthropy" project called Stand Together, with aims of "strengthening the fabric of American society," and focusing on "poverty" and "educational quality," according to USA Today. Media should know that: previous Koch-backed poverty and education efforts have been coupled with ideological proselytizing, Stand Together's executive director is a Koch veteran and former Republican congressional candidate who repeatedly fearmongered about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the group's top collaborator is associated with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan's sham "anti-poverty" efforts.

  • Fox Falsely Claims Obama Wants To Give Up Control Of The Internet To The U.N.

    Blog ››› ››› SOPHIA TESFAYE

    Fox News baselessly claimed that the Obama administration plans to give up control of a key Internet administrator to the United Nations,ignoring Obama administration officials' repeated insistence that it will not let a governmental organization run the agency.

    On the April 10 edition of Fox's America's Newsroom, guest co-host Gregg Jarrett claimed that the Obama administration was to "give up" direct oversight of the Internet and "transfer control to an international body controlled by foreign governments." Guest Jordan Sekulow agreed, claiming that the Obama administration plans to cede control of the Internet to the U.N.'s International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Jarrett advanced Fox's previous distortion of the plan, falsely suggesting that nations like China and Russia may now be able to control the Internet and that the plan would lead to the U.N. taxing the Internet. Sekulow agreed, saying that the ITU "is run by dictators" and "authoritative regimes."

    But there is no evidence to support Jarrett's claim that the U.S. intends to give control of ICANN, the agency that administers the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS), to the ITU. In a March 14 press release, the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) announced it will proceed with a 1998 plan to transition U.S. control over ICANN to a multi-stakeholder body, explicitly stating that "NTIA will not accept a proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or an inter-governmental organization solution."

    In his April 10 congressional testimony, Commerce Department assistant secretary Lawrence Strickling reaffirmed the U.S. government's commitment that no government or inter-governmental body would control ICANN [emphasis added]:

    STRICKLING: We need to ensure that the broad Internet community--companies, technical groups, civil society and governments--continue to work together as equal partners in crafting the rules of the road for the Internet through the multistakeholder model. Some authoritarian regimes however do not accept this model and seek to move Internet governance issues, including the DNS, into the United Nations system in order to exert influence and control over the Internet.

    [...]

    Some have argued that what NTIA is doing is tantamount to "giving away the Internet".That could not be further from the truth. There is no one party--government or industry,including the U.S. Government--that controls the Internet. The Internet is a decentralize dnetwork of networks. What we have in fact done, is demonstrate leadership and strategic vision by laying out a framework with clear conditions to finalize a process that has been ongoing for 16 years.

    [...]

    With the March 14 announcement, NTIA has taken the next step in the 16-year process to privatize the coordination and management of the DNS. ICANN last month began the process of convening stakeholders for the first of many public discussions on this topic. During this period, NTIA's role will remain unchanged. As we have said repeatedly, we will not accept a transition plan that would replace the NTIA role with one led by governments or an inter-governmental organizationand we have established a framework of four principles that the process must address. This must be a careful and thoughtful process. If a plan that meets these criteria cannot be implemented by September 30, 2015, we can extend the contract for up to four years.

    Further, Internet experts have stated that the U.S. plan to relinquish control of ICANN actually weakens the power of the ITU. Politico quoted Nick Ashton-Hart, the Geneva representative for the Computer & Communications Industry Association and a former ICANN official, as saying that "If the U.S. was to try and maintain the master key, it would have been more likely to result in the fragmentation of the Internet," because other countries could claim a similar role. Politico also quoted Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) stating that if the federal government hadn't relinquished its oversight, the ITU could continue to argue that ICANN functioned as a pawn for the U.S. government.

  • Fox News Ignores The Constitution, Calls For Prayer At Public High School Graduation

    Blog ››› ››› MELODY JOHNSON

    A judge has ordered a graduation ceremony for a public high school in Texas to be changed to exclude planned opening and closing prayers. While this adheres to the Constitution of the United States, that's not good enough for Fox & Friends who, today, hosted one of the would-be-praying graduates and his parents to push back against the separation of church and state. The show did not mention that there was no prohibition against students making religious references during their individual speeches. This follows Fox's long history of fabricating a "war on Christians."

    Watch:

  • Two Simple Questions About O'Keefe's Role In The Latest Big Government Smear

    Blog ››› ››› NED RESNIKOFF

    On Tuesday I noted that Philip Christofanelli -- the undergrad "whistleblower" helping Big Government go after two labor studies lecturers at the University of Missouri -- is a former James O'Keefe collaborator. It seemed like an important detail, given that video from the class somehow ended up in the splice-happy hands of Insurgent Visuals.

    Anyway, it didn't take long for me to get a response from Big Government. And I have to admit, for once they scored a direct hit against Media Matters: they correctly identified a typo in my post. What they didn't do was give a direct answer to the central question: Is James O'Keefe playing a role in Project "Go After The Teachers?"

    They get close to a response. They claim I'm arguing that James O'Keefe is "secretly behind the revelation of communist indoctrination," and that this is a "conspiracy theory." But that's just sneering, not a categorical denial. And if the answer to my question is "no," it'd be nice to hear them come out and say it.

    After all, I don't think my question is too unreasonable. Given that he's a clear link between Christofanelli and Big Government, you can see why I might think O'Keefe has something to do with this whole smear campaign. Plus, as News Corpse first reported, someone named James O'Keefe is listed as the contributor on the now-defunct insurgentvisuals.blogspot.com. Crooks and Liars has a screenshot here. It's certainly possible that that's a different Insurgent Visuals, or a different James O'Keefe, or both. But -- and this might just be the tinfoil hat talking -- that seems like an awfully big coincidence.

    So how about it, Big Government? Did Christofanelli give O'Keefe the video or not? And does O'Keefe have any connection to the group that released them to the public?


  • Is James O'Keefe Involved In The Latest Breitbart Smear Campaign?

    Blog ››› ››› NED RESNIKOFF

    After weeks spent attacking two Missouri labor studies professors with heavily edited footage of their classes, Andrew Breitbart's Big Government ran a lengthy "first-hand account" from a conservative college student named Philip Christofanelli. In this account, Christofanelli said that he was not associated with Insurgent Visuals, the group that posted the spliced video. He wrote:

    Since that time, an organization known as Insurgent Visuals has released videos of the class, which have gained considerable media attention. To be clear, I am not Insurgent Visuals, nor am I associated with them. I did not edit any videos or put them online. I did, however, download the original videos off of the class website and give them out in their entirety to a number of my friends in order to obtain other opinions on the propriety of what occurred in the class, and of the steps I should take moving forward.

    He sketched a similar timeline today during an interview with Big Journalism editor Dana Loesch on her radio program, The Dana Show. There, he said:

    I gave the whole classes to a couple of-- I mean, a few of my friends, and I didn't expect it to really blow up from there. It was when Insurgent Visuals released their videos that I really saw that it had become a huge issue.

    It's unclear how the tapes made their way to Insurgent Visuals. But it is worth noting* that on at least one occasion Christofanelli has collaborated with Andrew Breitbart's favorite smear artist, James O'Keefe.

  • CNN's Loesch Mounts Dishonest Defense Of Breitbart's Chop Shop Editing

    Blog ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

    CNN's Dana Loesch is trying to pretend away the deceptive editing practices at the center of the Andrew Breitbart campaign to "go after the teachers."

    Yesterday, officials at the University of Missouri-St. Louis concluded that the videos Breitbart's site Big Government used to smear two of the university's labor studies lecturers were "highly distorted through splicing and editing."

    Loesch rejected their findings on her radio show today:

    This story, it began with a whistleblower who got some video of some of the things that were being said in his class, sent it out to a bunch of people, and progressives freaked out. And because they went up on the Breitbart sites, of course they immediately said Andrew Breitbart has some sort of magical editing, video editing, equipment, which, I -- if it's out there, please show me where I can purchase stock, because it's just magical. Now you can get people into scenes and you can manipulate them so that say things that they can try to deny later. There is absolutely nothing that has been put out there that is out of context.

    This is demonstrably false.

  • University Of Missouri Concludes That Big Government Used "Distorted" Video In Latest Sting

    Blog ››› ››› NED RESNIKOFF

    Last month Andrew Breitbart made good on his promise to "go after the teachers," as his Big Government website published a series of misleadingly edited videos attacking the University of Missouri's labor studies program. Big Government's editors claimed the video showed two labor studies professors at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the University of Missouri-Kansas City teaching students that "fear, intimidation, and, even, industrial sabotage are important and, often, necessary tools."

    But the claims Big Government writers made about those videos are simply not credible. And this isn't just our view; after reviewing all of the tapes, the chancellor and provost of the University of Missouri-St. Louis reached the same conclusion.

    From an open letter published on St. Louis Activist Hub:

    We have finally completed viewing the videos originating at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) from the UMSL course Introduction to Labor Studies. The excerpts that were made public showing the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) instructor Don Giljum and students as well as the UMKC instructor and students were definitely taken out of context, with their meaning highly distorted through splicing and editing from different times within a class period and across multiple class periods.

    As stated previously, our campus supports academic freedom, civility, diversity, open discourse and the pursuit of knowledge. We support the academic freedom of faculty, staff and students at UMSL. Contrary to some reports, Don Giljum has not been fired from the campus faculty, and in fact, is completing the course; he remains eligible to teach at UMSL. We sincerely regret the distress to him and others that has been caused by the unauthorized copying, editing and distribution of the course videos.

    The full text of the letter is available here.

  • Big Government Exposes Sinister Plot To Encourage Critical Thinking In The Classroom

    Blog ››› ››› NED RESNIKOFF

    Only a couple of weeks after professional fabulist Andrew Breitbart kicked off his campaign to "go after the teachers," things are getting silly.

    Today, Kyle Olson -- head of something called the Education Action Group Foundation -- published a video on Big Government which he claimed exposed a group of socialist school teachers plotting how best to "subtly fill [young minds] with Marxist and radical ideas."

    Here's one of the "radicals" in the video laying out their spooky brainwaishing plot:

    But I do think that wherever you possibly can, part of it is actually just allowing for room for critical thought in the classroom and allowing for students to think for themselves, talk about issues wherever possible, to bring in history and you know, radicals from the past and fight for that kind of thing. And I think there is space to do that.

    So in Olson's view, "allowing for room for critical thought in the classroom" and "allowing for students to think for themselves" is indoctrination.

    Breitbart and his followers can claim that his anti-teacher campaign is all about battling indoctrination, but really it's about the opposite. No wonder Olson finds "allowing for room for critical thought" to be such a malevolent concept. Critical thought demands hearing out opposing views, and opposing views are one thing Big Government would apparently prefer to keep out of American classrooms.

    So who's pro-indoctrinating children again? The socialist who's for "allowing for students to think for themselves [and] to talk about issues," or the conservative who seems to think being a socialist is an automatic disqualification for teaching any subject?

  • New Breitbart "Investigation" Reveals Hollowness Of His Views On Education

    Blog ››› ››› NED RESNIKOFF

    Andrew Breitbart loves to complain about political censorship on college campuses, but Big Government's latest deceptively edited "investigation" proves just how thin his commitment to on-campus free speech really is.

    Here's Breitbart on page 122 in his book Righteous Indignation:

    In other words, if you disagreed with [philosopher Herbert] Marcuse, you should be forcefully shut up, according to Marcuse. This made political debate very convenient for him and his allies. This totalitarianism is now standard practice on college campuses, in the media, and in Hollywood--the very places that the Frankfurt school sought to control.

    But far-left college students -- even Communists -- are surely just as entitled to their political views and freedom of speech as their conservative classmates. That's why it's a little odd to see someone on Breitbart's Big Government complain that a college professor didn't do a good enough job making students with opinions Breitbart deems unacceptable shut up.

    Yet that's the charge leveled in a Big Government post against Professor Judy Ancel, one of the targets of Breitbart's attempt to "go after the teachers." One of Ancel's crimes, according to Big Government, is that she "repeatedly failed to criticize statements made by Giljum or by students endorsing violence."

    Yes, some college students have extreme views. But the classroom is supposed to be a safe place to air those views and have a reasoned, informative debate about them. If Professor Ancel started publicly embarrassing students just because she disagreed with them, that would be tantamount to shutting down the sort of open classroom debate Breitbart claims to be fighting for.

    Maybe Breitbart means to say that it's up to the teacher to define the acceptable parameters of debate. But isn't that the "totalitarianism" for which he blames Marcuse? How is that not what he calls "cult brainwashing?"

    For all of Breitbart's sanctimonious posturing, this latest smear is nothing less than an attempt to enforce on-campus censorship. And while his cronies can call student privacy a "red herring" all they want, it doesn't change the fact that Professor Ancel is right when she says that publicly releasing the words and faces of students who thought they were speaking confidentially will "have an enormously chilling effect on freedom of thought and expression." The fact that Big Government responded to her concerns with yet more dishonest attacks just goes to show that their objective was never "freedom of thought and expression" in the first place. It's just another excuse to smear people with whom they disagree.