GW’s Bias On Full Display at Spicer Event
By Kara Zupkus
On Monday January 30, George Washington University’s (GW) School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) hosted an interview with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Unfortunately, however, the event served only to demonstrate the school’s systemic pattern of liberal bias.
From the moment Mr. Spicer sat down, SMPA Director Frank Sesno went on the attack, immediately demanding answers on the recent executive order President Trump signed regarding banning refugees and citizens from entering the United States for 120 days.
Sesno, arguably acting as a representative of the university, stated the order was “disturbing much of this country” and caused an “enormous sense of uncertainty, fear and chaos.” Right off the bat, Spicer was put on the defensive. As the interview continued, Sesno grilled Spicer on other issues such as the inauguration crowd size, the administration’s attacks on the media, and “fake news.”
Of course, it’s critically important to hold powerful people like the White House Press Secretary accountable. But this went too far.
Spicer could barely finish his sentences without being interrupted by Sesno, all while the liberal student body laughed and applauded Sesno’s snarky comments. This section of the event felt like an actual White House Press Briefing, where Spicer is constantly on defense, rather than an informational, intellectual, respectful conversation with the director of the SMPA program at GW. This stands in stark contrast to the time when Jay Carney was interviewed for a university event. Carney faced questions about how he keeps his cool in the briefing room and why it is important to stay on message.
The double standard is laughable.
After Spicer’s segment was over, Sesno interviewed a panel of speakers, including former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer and Jim Acosta, the CNN White House Correspondent who got into a verbal spat with President Trump during a news conference at Trump Tower.
At this point, it is important to note that Frank Sesno has ties to CNN, as he was the former Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent. He also has a history of treating conservative speakers on GW’s campus unfairly, including at a debate YAF co-sponsored in 2011 between Ann Coulter and Lawrence O’Donnell. For the remainder of the event, Sesno did not ask any particularly difficult questions, and even jokingly told Acosta that since Spicer had been attacking him earlier, he would go easier on him. Sesno allowed Acosta to rant about his grievances towards Trump, with no interruption or attempts to get him back on message. There was obvious favoritism towards the left-of-center panelist, and the liberal audience soaked it up, applauding and laughing at the jokes prompted by Sesno, a completely different dynamic than the intense questioning of Spicer just minutes earlier.
One of the most revealing moments of the night was when Ari Fleischer had audience members raise their hands if they identify as left-leaning or liberal- approximately 95% of the audience raised their hands. When asked who in the audience identifies as conservative, only eight hands in the 300+ seat theater were raised.
It is absolutely unacceptable to exploit and unfairly attack conservative speakers to simply please the majority of the student body. Conservative students exist, too, and deserve to have a fair representation in events with speakers.
Kara Zupkus is a member of GW YAF’s Executive Board.