Ivory Tower Blues

Culture is upstream from politics. University life is upstream from media culture. Kirchick notes that “this culture of intolerance and closed-mindedness is absolutely affecting  media. And we've had a series of scandals over the past few months at three of the most important literary, political, intellectual publications in this country. We had The Atlantic hiring a conservative writer who said one or two things about abortion that upset people and then firing him after a couple days. We had Steve Bannon invited to be interviewed by David Remnick at the New Yorker Festival. Within hours of this being announced, writers at The New Yorker rose up and demanded that he be disinvited because his presence would legitimize white supremacy. To see journalists — people who are supposedly committed to investigation, to having conversations — trying to shut down a conversation, I thought was telling. Then most recently at the New York Review of Books, where I'm an occasional contributor, the editor Ian Buruma was forced to resign because he published an essay by a man who had been accused of sexual improprieties — a man who had also actually been legally exonerated. So I think these are three examples of how these ideas being incubated at our top universities are finding their way into mainstream cultural institutions."

And that, for Kirchick, cuts near to the heart of the matter. “During the whole Kavanagh debacle,” he said, “you could see reporters for mainstream news outlets — NBC News, the Washington Post, the New York Times — on Twitter being openly partisan. I see it with a lot of coverage of the Trump administration. I'm no fan of Donald Trump; I supported Hillary Clinton, I've been a strong critic of him. But I think so much of the coverage is colored by the bias of many journalists. I think that you can trace this to the fact that the academy is becoming a part of Blue America. I think institutions like Yale really need to be broadly representative of the country. The Yale Daily News does does a survey every year on incoming freshmen, and they found that there are more LGBTQ students than conservatives.  I'm someone who would probably fall into both categories. I think that that's a problem, because there are a lot fewer LGBTQ people in the country than there are conservatives. I think that's a problem if Yale wants to produce leaders for America.”