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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

Yes, Conservatives Can (And Do) Disagree

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No, we are obviously not all in lockstep. Case in point: on RightWisconsin right now, we have very different reactions to the legislature's decision to kick the Center for Investigative Journalism off the UW campus and bar UW employees from working with the group.

In my article, I argue that it was a petty, vindictive, and dumb move. I argue that conservatives  should be on the side of government restraint, free speech, academic freedom, and diversity of ideas. 

The GOP’s  budget motion was a vindictive attack on a journalistic operation on ideological grounds. Does that sound slightly familiar? At a time when conservatives should be embracing government restraint, the motion combines some of the worst aspects of the IRS and DOJ scandals – using government to punish those perceived as political enemies combined with a clear assault on the free press. 

Dave Blaska, on the other hand,  cheers it on. He argues, eloquently, that the center is " a liberal incubus that has burrowed into the heart of academia, thereby lulling a credulous daily news media into the disseminates its left-leaning 'investigations.'"

Some of us are losing patience with a university that thinks diversity is only skin-deep, that holds that an Al Sharpton is just as good as a Thomas Sowell, a university that has a paycheck for whatever liberal has lost an election (Dave Cieslewicz is on the payroll now) but no conservatives.

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And then, there's the disagreement between Mark Belling and me, which I understand he aired on his show.

He wrote this to me:

    I am shocked you think the Center for Investigative Journalism should be getting government subsidies.  Do you think Wisconsin Interest should be housed n a government building?  Or MacIver?  How about my show??? Or yours?  I do not believe anyone can report on government when they are being subsidized by government.  They have no business being in there?   There is no problem with point of view journalism.  But there’s no way any conservative outlet would be allowed to poach off taxpayers the way CIJ does.

I wrote this back to him:

Well we have to agree to disagree....I think you make a good case for journalist keeping an arms length from government and vice versa. But I think I made a better one about not using government power to punish an independent journalistic voice ... Even one I might disagree with. Keep in mind the arguments the left is using now involving you, me, the FCC. I think we should be coming down on the side of free speech, academic freedom, and a diversity of voices. Plus the legislative move just looked dumb.
 
And in a separate email to Dan Bice, who asked me to respond to Belling, I wrote:
 
I just think conservatives should be in favor of government restraint, free speech, academic freedom, and the diversity of ideas. And, yes, I'd love to see UW have a more diverse intellectual climate, but this isn't the way to get there.
 
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One further note:the defenses of the legislative action ignore the second part: which:
 
prohibit UW employees from doing any work related to the Center for Investigative Journalism as part of their duties as a UW employee.
 

That is just a flat-out violation of  any interpretation;of academic freedom. Even if you want the group off campus, how do you justify barring professors and staff from working with an independent media group? And how would conservatives react if the legislature barred UW faculty from "any work" related to a conservative think tank or publication. (And yes, we do publish work by UW faculty members.)

Finally, it is somewhat misleading to say that the center is "subsidized" by government. It receives no state money, just office space. That space is covered by a "facilities use agreement" in consideration of work the enter does for the Journalism department, including working with students and faculty. 

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