POLITICS

Fox News Unwittingly Exposes Its Free Speech Hypocrisy

In back-to-back segments, Laura Ingraham championed the First Amendment, then attacked it.

In the span of 20 minutes Thursday night, Fox News personality Laura Ingraham put on an impressive show of cognitive dissonance, alternately offering a staunch defense of the First Amendment and its importance on college campuses, then attacking New York University for hiring two adjunct professors whose free speech she disagrees with.

The first segment came courtesy of President Donald Trump, who signed an executive order Thursday afternoon threatening to cut federal research funds from colleges that restrict free speech on campus.

Ingraham, of course, applauded the order, going so far as to criticize as “completely absurd” speculation that Trump was acting to protect only conservative speech while liberal voices wouldn’t receive similar backing.

Which makes it all the more odd that she then tried to quash liberal voices in her next segment, taking umbrage at New York University’s hiring of two liberal journalists as adjunct professors.

Ingraham strongly supports the First Amendment on college campuses — but apparently only when it’s protecting voices she agrees with.

“Umbrage” doesn’t quite cut it. The Fox personality labeled former New Yorker fact checker Talia Lavin and former Teen Vogue columnist Lauren Duca, who are scheduled to teach one class each this year, “little journo terrorists” and “radical anti-conservatives.” (Lavin and Duca are both former Huffington Post employees, and Lavin was a paid guest writer for HuffPost’s Opinion section in 2018.)

Lavin, taken aback, retweeted the clip.

“Here’s Laura Ingraham displaying my face to 2.5 million viewers and calling me a ‘little journo-terrorist,’” Lavin wrote. “I am 29. I have no full-time job. I am teaching a single course, for $7k, as an adjunct. This is insane. And irresponsible. It is incitement. It is not okay.” 

“This is the fourth time I have been mentioned on Fox News this year and I am not an interesting or significant person with any power,” Lavin wrote in subsequent tweets. “Aren’t there, like, earthquakes or peace treaties or something else going on to discuss?” 

Ingraham is just the latest of the network’s personalities to echo the apparent hypocrisy, as Fox News broadcast similarly contradictory views about free speech all day.

Here’s a Fox News host making the same talking points just hours earlier:

As Vox’s Zack Beauchamp convincingly argues, Fox’s real aim here isn’t about protecting free speech in higher education; it’s about delegitimizing academia overall.

NYU has not responded to a request for comment.

Data collected by the Niskanen Center, a nonprofit think tank that espouses political moderation with an eye toward personal liberty, suggests that threats to free speech on college campuses are actually decreasing. 

CONVERSATIONS