The Daily’s Convenient Silence

By Charles Rollet

A month ago, numerous Marxists and other radicals spent an entire day calling for revolution on Northwestern’s campus during the Midwest Marxism Conference. There were a dozen workshops and packed classrooms, along with speeches decrying capitalism, religion, America, and the like. One conservative activist from Breitbart.com was thrown out for undisclosed reasons; some students who tried to start debates were also expelled.

You can read about this event in The Chronicle, of course. I attended the whole conference except for the final lecture (somehow I was not outed as a “non-believer” in Marxism, which was probably due to my unkempt hairdo) and I thought it was well worth covering, regardless of one’s political opinions.

Yet The Daily Northwestern entirely ignored the all-day event – even though it was held in Fisk Hall, where the Medill School of Journalism is headquartered. I wonder why?

I emailed The Daily’s assistant Campus editors, who explained to me that “as an independent student publication, we do not always have the manpower to cover every single event that’s happening on campus at any given time,” concluding that “our staff is only so big.”

Yet The Daily seems to cover many other events quite extensively. It routinely reports on very poorly-attended events, like it did for Mayor Tisdahl’s lecture on Nov. 14th (audience: 7 students, one of whom was a Daily columnist). The Midwest Marxism Conference’s attendees were in the hundreds. And on November 10th, the day the Marxism conference took place, there was not a single other major event on campus- in fact, Northwestern’s newspaper of record did not report on any other happening which took place that day in its “Campus” section.

And as for The Daily’s staff being “only so big,” cry me a river. In addition to its roomy offices conveniently located on campus in Norris, The Daily has dozens of capable student journalists.

So why didn’t The Daily report on a massive conference which took place on its home turf?

I am not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t believe The Daily’s editors intentionally held a meeting and said, “hey, let’s ignore this Marxism Conference because it’ll make us progressives look kooky.” Rather, it seems clear to me that they simply did not think it was important enough to be covered, and thus did not make the extra effort to dispatch a reporter to the event.

Or, perhaps, it could very well have been that the conference did not even appear on The Daily’s “budget” (or story list), despite being heavily advertised on campus.

But the fact that they did not view it as important enough to warrant even a single reporter is telling. Ideological bias aside, it is at the very least incompetent not to cover a campus event of the size and scale of the Midwest Marxism Conference- especially since it occupied (pun intended) most of our university’s main journalism building.

And if the idea to cover the conference did not even appear in The Daily’s budget, perhaps it really is unfathomable to The Daily’s staff that dozens of Marxist ideologues openly proselytizing on NU’s campus might be a smidge controversial, or even worth covering at all.

Had the conference been held by a group of ultra-conservative blowhards, it is probable The Daily would have covered it, and painstakingly documented every un-PC remark made – and rightly so. But a bunch of Marxists occupying an entire university building? Pah! Leave it to the folks at Breitbart to make a big deal out of it. If you are exclusively a Daily reader, you would not know the event even happened. I never expected The Daily to take a side on the conference’s contents, but merely to have *covered* it, like it covers so many happenings on campus.

The Daily’s non-coverage of the conference reminds me of how very easy it is for American college students to dismiss Marxism, considering they have had the good fortune of never living under a Marxist “dictatorship of the proletariat.” They can ignore progressivism’s darker side as mere theory when they have never experienced the very real effects of Communism on everyday people.

Having lived in Uzbekistan not long after the Soviet Union crumbled, I know of the lingering effects of Marxism applied to the real world all too well. Even simple occurrences, like listening to a woman describe how she burst into tears the first time she saw a fully-stocked supermarket, are seared in my memory.

The irony of this situation is that ultimately, the only sources which covered the Midwest Marxism Conference on a national level were one-sided. For example, it was extensively chronicled in conservative websites like Breitbart.com, which is not really a news site and whose authors are mostly located firmly on the “activist” rather than “journalist” camp.

Liberal journalists often complain that they do not get enough credit for covering events objectively, and at times I sympathize with their sentiments, despite being a moderately conservative person. But ignoring events like the Midwest Marxism Conference only adds fuel to the right-wing claim that the media is institutionally pro-Left and neglects stories harmful to progressives. I don’t think this is always the case, but The Daily’s ignoring of the Conference gives these claims more credit than they probably deserve.

And The Daily does have a history of conveniently ignoring stories that don’t suit their neat worldview. Last year, as was reported in The Chronicle, it failed to report on Bob Dold’s visit to Northwestern, even though he is a (Republican) Congressman for Illinois. All of Democrat Jan Schakowsky’s periodic visits to campus are, of course, extensively documented.

It all seems very convenient to me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.