October 28, 2015

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Don’t Fox with me

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Re: “Cornell Stops Fox News’ Jesse Watters From Interviewing Students About Liberal ‘Indoctrination’”

This past Friday, I had the misfortune of being interviewed by Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters on faculty donations. You can see me in the now widely viewed Fox segment; I’m the guy in the pink shirt who, the segment implies, is silenced by the administration. Watters gripes that they had my permission, and Cornell is clearly crushing dissent!

Watters’ claim that they had my permission is, however, a rather interesting one — especially interesting considering I did not grant permission to be interviewed. My conversation with Mr. Watters went something like this:

Watters: “Do you mind if we interview you?”

Me: “About what?”

Watters: “A recent report in the student newspaper.”

I never said “Yes” or “Okay” in response; instead I brushed it aside, uninterested. We proceeded to have a congenial talk about how we grew up in the same area, and class scheduling at Cornell before he turned the talk to politics. At some point during the preceding conversation the camera had started rolling, and I was being interviewed. By the time I realized this it felt rude to walk away, so I kept talking. Being tricked into an interview aside, what angers me is that Fox News, not the administration, silenced my voice on an important issue.

Early in the conversation Watters asked me if the fact that so many faculty donations went to Democrats bothered me. I answered simply, “No,” elaborating that Cornell is not obligated to teach all opinions; Cornell should only teach opinions grounded in reason.

When I said this, Watters asked if Democrats have a monopoly on facts. He was right to ask; Democrats are not always correct, but on key issues, the Republican Party continues to bury its head in the sand. I brought up climate change, saying that the continued Republican Party belief that climate change isn’t real discourages faculty. Mr. Watters promptly ignored this. Climate change is real — ask 97 percent of scientists.

Climate change isn’t the only issue on which the GOP finds itself factually challenged. A common Republican claim is that we live in a post racial society in which we need no longer worry about racism. Despite this, studies have found when employers are given identical fake resumes candidates with black-sounding names are 50 percent less likely to get call backs than those with white-sounding names. Another common theme is that the wage gap and workplace sexism are nonexistent, nevertheless another resume study found that potential employers rated fake applicants with female names as less “competent” and less “hirable” than those with male names. The existence of sexism, racism and climate change (to name just a few) are all supported by facts and evidence.  The Republican Party simply refuses to come to terms with them.

Even more concerning is the fact that Republican politicians are often not simply ignorant when it comes to these issues; rather, they are actively sexist and racist. It comes as no surprise when Jeb Bush says his favorite superhero is Supergirl because, “She looked pretty hot.” Similarly, though it generated a media circus, Donald Trump’s openly racist comments about Mexican immigrants were not out of character. Racism permeates the Republican Party, and Republican leaders either do nothing to stop this or actively encourage it.

Often, this means that were Cornell’s professors more supportive of Republican politicians they would have to be either misinformed or willing to support a party that accepts racism, sexism, homophobia and anti-science rhetoric. Both would disqualify one from a professorship in my mind. Diverse viewpoints, supported by evidence, are important and, assuredly, healthy at Cornell. Any Cornell student has who has taken intro econ knows we have our fair share of professors whose favorite words seem to be “Milton” and “Friedman.” Conservatism exists on Cornell’s campus and among its faculty, but I think the alarming Republican positions I listed above put off professors.

In short, if Jesse Watters and his friends at Fox News want to see more Cornell professors donate to Republicans I suggest the Republican Party first become less hateful, backward and ignorant.

Tristan Keil

ILR, Class of 2017

  • Proud Cornellian (independent!)

    Right on, Tristan! Thanks for stepping up and giving us your side side of the story.

    Actually, I thought the “ice wall” response was brilliant.

  • Poor Logic and Bad Writing

    I love how a random kid on the street who was randomly selected to be interviewed is now a scholar of conservative politics. Close to everything you said was a generalization.

    “A common Republican claim is that we live in a post racial society in which we need no longer worry about racism.”
    Literally zero candidates or mainstream republicans have said that there is no longer racism in the world.

    This column was so painful to read and sounded like a high schooler who just watched an episode of Rachel Maddow.

    • Mark Cook

      Poor Logic and Bad Grammar, maybe you take us all for fools. But we can read what he wrote, and what you wrote.

      “A common Republican claim is that we live in a post racial society in which we need no longer worry about racism.”

      Poor Logic and Bad Grammar:
      “Literally zero candidates or mainstream republicans have said that there is no longer racism in the world.”

      Well, PL&BG, Republican candidates have not said that there is no longer racism “in the world.” In fact, the leading Republican candidate showed that there is plenty of racism “in the world,” including in this country, when he said (of Mexicans):

      “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people.” That remark shot him to the top of the Republican poll, with his supporters saying that “he tells it like it is.”

      As to Tristan’s comment, here are the results from a Washington Post/ABC News Poll last December:
      “While 2 in 3 white Republicans say minorities and whites are treated equally in the criminal justice system, only 3 in 10 white Democrats agree with that view. Similarly, while more than 8 in 10 white Republicans say they are confident that police treat blacks and whites equally, half as many white Democrats share that opinion.”
      Washington Post, “On racial issues, America is divided both white and black, and red and blue,” Dec. 27, 2014.

      • You’re not the brightest

        How people differ in assessing police responses is not immediately indicative of racism. I honesty don’t want to respond to your other idiotic claims because you constantly write these long, rambling narratives under Cornell Sun articles. You’re probably 40 or 50, but still arguing with 20 year olds on a college paper with a readership of maybe 15 plus the authors’ mothers.

        • Mark Cook

          You forgot to count the producers at Fox. Or is that where you work?

  • Poor Logic and Bad Writing

    Also, you “literally” did give your verbal consent to be interviewed. Maybe you’re unfamiliar with the concept of ideas being conveyed through sounds, but saying “yes” is giving your legal consent.

    • Jose

      While I appreciate his narrative, it does show how clueless he is, and how much liberal students would benefit from having diverse perspectives in the classroom (diverse as in thought, not appearance). He thinks that he technically didn’t consent because he didn’t actually say “yes”? That’s like asking your girlfriend if she wants to have sex, which she then engages in willingly, and then suddenly you are accused of rape because “I technically never verbally said ‘yes'”.

  • Abe ’14

    You need to learn what “sexist” means. Saying Supergirl is your favorite super hero because she’s hot is not anywhere close to the definition of sexism. Unless you think women saying that Daniel Craig is their favorite Bond actor because he’s hot is also sexist. But that wouldn’t be sexist either.

    Also – you weren’t tricked into doing an interview. A reporter with a camera walks up to you and starts talking. Why in the world, if you didn’t want to be interviewed, not immediately walk away? Come on.

    • Batista

      Calling someone a sexist or a racist is the liberal method of indicating they cannot attack the truth or logic in your position so they have to shut down discussion by calling you a racist or sexist. It shows a total lack of intellectual integrity and is the tool of shutting down free speech used by socialist and fascists for over 100 years. It is refreshing to see that some students see through the deception.

  • George

    Watters often selects people to interview who are likely to be clueless. It sounds like his instincts were right on.

  • George

    You had your 15 minutes. Now go away.

  • Guy Incognito

    Funny, y’all were on his side when you thought he was on your side and being silenced.
    Now you want him to “shut up”.

    • Abe ’14

      Well you’d be on my side if I said something along the lines of:

      “Guy Incognito is a a brilliant man”

      But you would probably think differently if the rest of my statement read as:

      “Guy Incognito is a brilliant man……just kidding. Guy Incognito is nothing of the sort.”

      It’s all about context.

  • Batista

    Poster child for the effect of having a faculty almost exclusively made up of democrat idealogues. Only in such an environment could someone qualified to get into Cornell be so ignorant of reality. If you watched the debate last night there were black, female and Hispanic Republican candidates for President and several who believe in global warming. Is Carly sexist, are Ben, Marco and Ted racist. Tristan stop accepting the garbage spewed by academics who cannot wake it in the real world and open your eyes. The truth will set you free. Your opinion shows a total lack of academic honesty, even more appalling in the face of last night’s debate exposing the false nature of your PC attacks on the Republican party.

  • Karen

    Look at these comments, Fox! See! Cornellians can be hateful, too!

    • Batista

      Excellent example another way to attack inconvenient facts. Say it is hate speech if false claims of sexism or racism do not shut down honest discourse.

  • Melinda

    This young man is an embarrassment to Cornell. He chats at length with a camera aimed at him and then cries that he did not give permission. He resorts to name calling and loathing of others while calling the others hateful, ignorant, and ….. What is next? A lawsuit?

    • Ward

      I suspect you are right. Author is an ILR student after all … think stats will show strong lawyer career track from that school.

  • When I started reading this, I expected it to be written by someone who was actually featured in the interview. You were just standing there.

    • And I’m not being rude really in case you thought I was. You just seemed calm and collected – didn’t think anything of it.

    • Mark Cook

      It looks as if Tristan handled the O’Reilly team extremely well. The fact that they left his comments on the cutting room floor is evidence, not that that nothing was said, as “Confused” seems to want to believe, but that his version of what was said is accurate, and that his comments were spot on, and obviously not at all what Fox wanted.

  • Dr. Lindsay Graham

    All this talk of ‘that’s sexist’ and conservative politics and not one mention about how Obama is using chem trails to control our weather and the media. Wake up people. Research the NWO, elect Rand Paul for president, but only if he’s Ron Paul’s actual son. Is he Rob Paul’s son?
    Questions that need to be answered.

    • This is a load of malarkey. I remember when I was in Vietnam slogging through the trenches and a pleasant slanty-eyed fellow helped me carry my bag, which held only my absolute essentials. Without him, I would have had no food, clean water, or black-face for the rest of my tour before I returned to basecamp. To read someone attacking Barack Hussein Obama in such a malicious and incoherent way brings tears to my eyes. Do your own research. Find out what a tax is. Learn the true meaning behind ISIS. Try to explain why a fetus never voted for a single GOP candidate in the past two decades. Educate yourself, Doctor.


      • DOCTOR Lindsay Graham

        Sen. Webb I can smell the Fluoride that Obama puts in our water to placate us on your breath as I read your comment. That’s the only way I can rationalize someone defending the president that literally caused Hurricane Sandy. Luckily, I have a tonic that will open your eyes to what’s really going on. Available for FREE with any donation above 40$ on my website Graham2016.org.

    • Likely A Disgruntled Professor

      Do you think you are clever? I get that you can’t make an argument so you have to respond in an asinine way, but you’re not witty or clever. 2/10

  • Cornell ’15

    Tristan’s response to Watters makes me proud to be a Cornellian.

  • Mike

    What is a “white-sounding name?”

  • Travis Cuvelier

    The “guy in the pink shirt” didn’t have any of his comments make it to air. Literally the only shot you were in was when Watter’s was getting thrown off campus. He probably needed you to sign a release before airing your comments, and he was unable to do this because ha was thrown off campus.

  • Fem1984

    It is ironic to re-read the criticism of this article now, almost a year later, after the Republican Party has successfully nominated one of the most overtly sexist and racist candidates to date. Perhaps we are witnessing the tragic decline of the Grand Old Party.

  • Sure, it’s a good thing to enjoy your work, but there is such a thing as enjoying it too much. bejeweled