On February 2, 2017, Dan Lieberman (pictured left) published an article at CNN, titled “Milo Yiannopoulus is trying to convince colleges that hate speech is cool.”  He also tweeted the article on the same day, stating “Milo Yiannopoulus is trying to convince colleges that hate speech is cool we got the interview.”  But does Lieberman have the interview and is Yiannopoulus (pictured right) trying to convince colleges that hate speech is cool?

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The article features a video that can hardly be described as an interview.  The nine-minute video is rather a compilation comprised of highly edited segments of an interview between Lieberman and Yiannopoulos that took place sometime in January this year; various out of context statements made by Yiannopoulos during some his speeches on college campuses; short clips of interviews with U.C. Davis faculty and students; and, of course, a clip of a reporter claiming Yiannopoulos encouraged his followers to harass Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones (A claim Yiannopoulos refuted on Lieberman’s own network in an interview with Alison Kosik).





 

Rather than interview Yiannopoulos, Lieberman does his best to paint Yiannopoulos in a false light as being no better than some of the students protesting him.  The video cuts to a clip of Yiannopoulos, telling Lieberman "I just want to burn it down,” which is immediately followed by another clip of " Yiannopoulos, telling Lieberman, I don’t want to throw the inhabitants out and move in; I just want to knock it down and see want else springs up in its place.” Whether Yiannopoulos was referring to progressive ideas or college campuses, we cannot be certain, because Lieberman has never aired the entire interview.  Yet, it is certain that, less than a month later, U.C. Berkley protestors actually did set fires outside Yiannopoulos’s speech, an event that, like U.C. Davis, was also shutdown by students.

 

Another certainty was Lieberman still needed to substantiate his claim about Yiannopoulos “trying to convince colleges that hate speech is cool.”  Undeterred by his inability to demonstrate Yiannopoulos either directly using or encouraging hate speech aside from a well deserved “F-you” to Lieberman during part of the enigmatic interview, Lieberman persisted in substantiating his claim by arguing Yiannopoulos’s campus speeches encouraged White Nationalists like Richard Spencer and Nathan Damigo to start recruiting students and speaking on college campuses.  However, the popularity of Yiannopoulos and the success of his speeches cannot be attributed to the content of Spencer and Damigos's speeches any more than it can be attributed to the content of speeches by radical professors like Natalia Deeb-Sossa, who popularizes critical race theory at U.C. Davis.

 

Sadly, Lieberman’s guilt by association tactic only demonstrates Lieberman’s lack of journalistic integrity.  Real journalism is about twisting the narrative to fit the facts and not vice versa.  Lieberman is not the first journalist to paint Yiannopoulos in a false light and he will likely not be the last.  Yet, Yiannopoulos will persist in his efforts to debunk false narratives by using facts, a category of information that John Adams once described as “stubborn things,” and “professional provocateurs” like Lieberman will only serve to embolden Yiannopoulos.


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