Updated with a statement from Joel Malina, vice president for university relations
Officials from Cornell’s media relations office asked Fox News anchor Jesse Watters to stop interviewing students on campus in a segment that aired on The O’Reilly Factor Monday night.
Fox’s “Watters’ World” segment shows the anchor interviewing students about possible political “indoctrination,” after a study by The Sun revealed that 96 percent of Cornell’s faculty donations over the past four years have gone to liberal campaigns. The study was misquoted by Watters, who said that 96 percent of faculty donated to Democrats.
In the video, which is currently trending on Facebook, Watters stops various Cornell students in Collegetown, asking them questions spanning from the national debt to whether professors “burn incense in class.”
“I’m going to give you a test to see if you’ve been indoctrinated and how bad it is,” Watters told one student in the video. “Do you think we should build a wall on the southern border to protect against the illegal alien invasion?”
“Make it out of ice,” the student responded.
“That’s not very smart for a Cornell student,” Watters replied.
“Well I’m indoctrinated, so I know nothing,” the student snapped back.
Following Watters’ interviews with students in Collegetown, the clip showed a confrontation with John Carberry of Cornell’s Media Relations in Day Hall, where Carberry told Watters he must leave campus and stop interviewing students, even if they consented to be interviewed. When Watters asked for the reasoning behind this decision, Carberry said he would “send a statement” in an email.
Bill O’Reilly questioned the political diversity at Cornell on his show last night after playing the segment. He also mocked Watters for wearing gloves in Ithaca in October.
A statement released Tuesday by Joel Malina, vice president for university relations, emphasized that Cornell believes in “exposing students to a diverse set of perspectives.”
“Our decision to apply our media policy to Fox News, as we do to all news outlets, was motivated by our responsibility to protect student privacy,” he said.
Malina said that Fox News has visited Cornell many times, but this was one of few “rare cases” when no advance notice was given.
“We provided the crew with a written version of our policy and they proceeded to go off campus where they interviewed students and completed their story unhindered,” he said.