Chicago Journalist Cancels Appearance With Blistering Response to DePaul’s Student Editors and Faculty Advisor

Chicago Tribune journalist Eric Zorn is not going to speak at DePaul University after the student newspaper condemned him for “racism.” The students wrote that Zorn should not participate in a “Tough Times for Local Journalism” panel because he warned against making snap judgments on the controversial shooting of Adam Toledo by a Chicago police officer. Zorn however wrote (below) a blistering response to the school and its editors over the cancel campaign.

We previously discussed the case of Adam Toledo which was subject to multiple investigations with no criminal charges brought against the officer, who returned to service with the Chicago Police Department. Zorn is not the only person targeted for raising countervailing facts over the shooting, including a prosecutor was disciplined for noting that Toledo was armed before the shooting.

For his part, Zorn encouraged readers to wait to see the evidence, particularly the bodycam footage. That was unacceptable to some and led to Steven Thrasher, the Daniel H. Renberg Chair of social justice in reporting at Northwestern, to attack him for waiting to see the evidence as a journalist.

After Zorn wrote that we need to examine the evidence, including the videotape, he “was branded a racist and a monster whose own children should be killed so I’d know how it feels.” He specifically discusses the attacks from Professor Thrasher who tweeted that he was canceling his Tribune subscription because “there is no space in a newspaper for arguing for the murder of a child, and that it’s ‘never too early’ to think they are worthy of murder.”

When Zorn later wrote to Thrasher about the unfairness of his remarks and the calls from many that he should be fired for wanting to see the evidence, Thrasher responded: “Your words make the murder of children more likely, and I have no interest in you, your unethical nature, your cynical worldview, or in communicating with you.”

Then came the invitation to discuss the challenges for local media at DePaul. The students writing for the school paper followed the example of Thrasher in denouncing the invitation for a “racist” like Zorn due to his coverage of stories like the Toledo and Trayvon Martin shootings.

Sonal Soni and Nadia Hernandez wrote that “It is insensitive and intimidating to expect students of color to confront Zorn at the in-person event. This decision puts BIPOC students in an uncomfortable position as they may be apprehensive to approach the predominantly white panelists with their concerns.”

DePaul has a long history of yielding to such campaigns, often citing security concerns to cancel speakers.

In his column, Zorn responded to the students. He specifically responded to editors at The DePaulia, who said that he was “terrified of being ‘cancelled’… (and of) engaging in conversation.” He asked them to send him the questions that they were referencing. They declined to do so and simply said that The DePaulia staff has “taken this as a learning experience and are hoping to move on. Hope you can do the same.”  The faculty advisor went a little further and told Zorn that Soni and Hernandez “understand what they did wrong and are moving on,” adding “they are students and will learn from their experience.”

Zorn did not buy it:

Nice try.

In journalism you don’t get to defame someone as a racist and then, when called upon to defend that ugly accusation, simply say you’re moving on from a “learning experience.” You don’t get to do that any more than a hit-and-run motorist can drive blithely away from striking a pedestrian while noting that he’s had a “learning experience” about roadway safety. …

Sorry not to be moving on, as requested, but I’m not going to cede my reputation and good name to anyone who makes a public stink about what they think I wrote rather than what I actually wrote and who tries to deny me the opportunity to speak to a willing audience.

The fact is that these students already had their learning experience from academics like Thrasher and others in journalism. Writerseditorscommentators, and academics have embraced rising calls for censorship and speech controls, including President-elect Joe Biden and his key advisers.

This movement includes academics rejecting the very concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy. Columbia Journalism Dean and New Yorker writer Steve Coll has denounced how the First Amendment right to freedom of speech was being “weaponized” to protect disinformation. In an interview with The Stanford Daily, Stanford journalism professor, Ted Glasser, insisted that journalism needed to “free itself from this notion of objectivity to develop a sense of social justice.” He rejected the notion that the journalism is based on objectivity and said that he views “journalists as activists because journalism at its best — and indeed history at its best — is all about morality.”  Thus, “Journalists need to be overt and candid advocates for social justice, and it’s hard to do that under the constraints of objectivity.”

Figures like Nikole Hannah-Jones have been celebrated for declaring that 
“all journalism is activism” and media outfits like National Public Radio now allow reporters to actively participate in protests.

In the end, the campaign succeeded. Other students will not be able to hear the views of Zorn and these students will not be “apprehensive” over the appearance of someone with opposing views. That could be what they have “learn[ed] from their experience.”

Here is his reply on Substack: Zorn Posting

41 thoughts on “Chicago Journalist Cancels Appearance With Blistering Response to DePaul’s Student Editors and Faculty Advisor”

  1. “Sorry not to be moving on, as requested, but I’m not going to cede my reputation and good name to anyone who makes a public stink about what they think I wrote rather than what I actually wrote and who tries to deny me the opportunity to speak to a willing audience.”

    He has to be smart enough to know that they know exactly what he wrote and what he meant and it’s not just a misunderstanding. The Leftest Gestapo don’t care about truth, context or meaning. Their job is to ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK the opposition, to take them down under any and all means necessary.

  2. It is not the task of an elementary school to impart a multiplicity of knowledge for the personal use of the individual. It has to develop and harness all physical and mental powers of youth for the service of people and the state. The only subject that has any place in the school curriculum is that which is necessary to achieve this aim. All other subjects, springing from obsolete educational ideas, must be discarded.”
    German directive on elementary education, 1940.
    Obviously the opinion of the children’s parents on how their children should be instructed was not to be taken into account. There is now a man running for Governor of Virginia who tells us that parents should have no say in their children’s education. Dissenters will not be tolerated and will be hunted down by Attorney General Merrick Garland. Garland has issued his warning to the parents of the nation.

  3. “Chicago Journalist Cancels Appearance With Blistering Response to DePaul’s Student Editors and Faculty Advisor”

    – Professor Turley

    You want a “…blistering response…” with a large measure of long suppressed/ignored truth to boot?

    Rep. Michael Waltz:

    “…the U.S. is funding a…threat to our way of life…” from China, Rep. Michael Waltz.

    [Big surprise!!! Exactly when did you wake up Rip Van Winkle? What did you think was going to happen after you sent our national treasure to the teeming hordes of rabid, heinous Chinese communists?]

    Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) stated that the U.S. is funding “an absolute existential threat to our way of life,” from China with our own money and urged people to boycott Chinese goods, and to “draw the line with all of these companies that have no problem boycotting Georgia, and their freely-elected legislature,” but do business with China.

    Megyn Kelly:

    “These f*ckers have lied to us long enough!”

    [No s—, Sherlock!]

    “Forgive me but, these fuckers have lied to us for long enough and we need to know the truth,” Kelly said of the Chinese Communist Party and its handling of investigations into the origin of the virus. She joined her guest Josh Rogin, a columnist for The Washington Post, during her Sirius XM radio show “The Megyn Kelly Show”.

    – Liberty One News

    We don’t want their love.

    We don’t want their respect.

    We want their fear!

    As the Israelites moved into Canaan in the Promised Land, they protected themselves against being attacked from the rear by killing every living thing in Jericho:

    Joshua 6 (NIV)

    20 When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.

    21 They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.

  4. Terry McAauliffe tells us that parents have no right to be involved with what their children are taught in school. There is another quote concerning education that we all should be aware of. “If the older generation can not get accustomed to us, we shall take their children away from them and rear them as needful to the Fatherland”. I’ll leave it to you to discern who the author of this statement was. Just like Merrick Garland the author of this statement inferred that the requirement of force might be necessary to silence those who disagree.

    1. Glennon in his linked comment: “Some of Marin’s and Moseley’s reasoning why Zorn should be allowed to speak are also mighty strange. Their letter defended his character by noting that he believes man-made climate change is real; that it’s vile to discriminate based on gender identity; that he thinks access to quality public health care is a right; and that he’s against the death penalty.

      Apparently, one’s right to speak depends in part on whether he is on record for those viewpoints, as Marin and Mosely see things.”

      More than strange, despicable.

      ‘Animal House’ was supposed to be a comedy, not a blueprint.

    2. Zorn is either a racists or a sexist. It’s as simple as that. If the mob wants to ruin someone, these are the usual charges.

  5. “…First Amendment right to freedom of speech was being “weaponized” to protect disinformation.”

    No, they are weaponizing journalism to quash free speech. And what’s with this “disinformation” thing? For months, everything reported about a possible lab leak in Wuhan was considered misinformation…until it wasn’t. The Nazis declared what was misinformation and what was “truth.” That worked out great…not.

  6. The only thing about this that cheers me is that in a few years those activist, totalitarian students will be drowning in debt and working as burger flippers. ‘Journalism’ is committing suicide.

    1. ‘Journalism’ is committing suicide.”

      Though through technology, journalism has advanced, I don’t think we have seen any advances by journalists. They have mostly moved in the wrong direction. We now have journalists who do not care about the truth and think they are writing for tabloids. But is journalism dying? I don’t think so because a vacuum has been created, and we are seeing journalists publish their work in places like sub stack where they are more attuned to the individual than the group. I think they make journalism more alive than anything we have seen in recent years.

      The left hates them even when they are on the left because they are more honest and unwilling to bend a story. The type of journalism being created today is dependent on an individual’s reputation.

      1. S. Meyer: “we are seeing journalists publish their work in places like sub stack where they are more attuned to the individual than the group.”

        True, and I think that is great. It almost the only material worth reading these days, but I suspect corporate journalism, what journalism schools train for, is going to be squeezed more. Most of it is a waste of time. I used to read a newspaper every day. Now I don’t think I have bought one in the last 20 years. I will read articles posted by themselves, usually found by bloggers’ links, but in general they aren’t very informative. What merit they once had is rotting away under the corruption in universities.

  7. Zorn: “But long before “cancel culture” was even a term, the right has been enthusiastic in its attempts to ban, burn and marginalize books, music, activists and anything or anyone else they feel has stepped over some cultural or political lines.”

    Liberal and left-wing censorship and thought control existed in the US long before the current era of cancel culture. Here are a few excerpts from a much longer essay:

    What followed was the Brown Scare, a massive hunt against fascists, Axis fifth columnists, “Hitlerite America Lasters” and so on. It is scarcely known today, but it was highly effective in tarring non-interventionist senators and remolding public opinion such that by 1954 all remnants of that coalition had vanished. This demise is documented by Justus Drew Doenecke in Not to the Swift: the Old Isolationists in the Cold War Era (1979)…The House Un-American Activities Committee began, of course, as the McCormack-Dickstein committee to investigate “Nazi subversives” and the alleged “business plot” to instigate a fascist coup in the USA, for which no evidence was ever found. Samuel Dickstein, NY representative, worked as a spy for the NKVD under the code name “Crook.”

    Lasswell’s content analysis helped send people to jail, based on the theory that those who sound like Nazis are, perforce, Nazis, much as Senator Joseph McCarthy would later assert that those who sound like communists are, perforce, communists. As an expert witness in 1942, Lasswell testified that 1,195 passages in William Dudley Pelley’s Galilean magazine matched Axis propaganda themes. Pelley was convicted of sedition and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld the reliance on Lasswell’s guilt-by-rhetorical-association analysis. In another case, Lasswell testified that a news agency, Transocean, was distorting information in a pro-Nazi direction; he used the New York Times as his neutral baseline. In a subsequent case, he compared allegedly seditious magazines to the Saturday Evening Post and Reader’s Digest.15 As part of the administration’s efforts to silence Robert McCormick, Lasswell and his staff applied the same methodology to the Chicago Tribune. The Tribune’s anti-Roosevelt themes, they found, overlapped with the anti-America themes of the Axis. Both contended that communists ran the U.S. government, that FDR was corrupt, and that the administration was bungling the war effort. A Justice Department attorney recommended indicting the Tribune for sedition. Intent, said the attorney, didn’t matter: “Whether this is deliberately contrived by seditious elements or is the honest view of patriotic but blind Americans is of minor importance; the result is the same.” The attorney general declined to prosecute.

    There’s a lot more.

    1. curri

      Two wrongs don’t make a right.

      Let’s fight the battle in front of us.

      1. No reason to let Zorn get away with whitewashing the history of the non-insane and higher IQ left of the past.

  8. Social Justice:

    Be blind, be deaf and be obedient. Do not educate yourself and never try to think on your own.

    1. “attack him for waiting to see the evidence as a journalist.”

      Leftism has adopted Nazi tactics. Need anyone say more?

  9. “Journalists need to be overt and candid advocates for social justice”? IMHO, shouldn’t journalists be overt and candid advocates for “the truth”? IMHO, journalists should not be “first with the story”, should be truthful with the story, have all the facts, don’t present a story as truthful and factual if it is not. As I remember it was who, what, when, where, why and how–If the journalist does not have all of the answers, admit it, keep looking for the missing answer. A panel is for the discussion of different viewpoints–I think? Maybe by discussing the different viewpoints, there can be a better answer to the subject matter. I just read a story about the shooting of a local policeman. Ten hours after the incident, I could not tell who was where and how it occurred. Obviously the shooter (who apparently killed himself) in the house and the dead man in the car can’t tell us why this occurred. That will take time and may never be understood..

  10. Perhaps these college students could benefit from a couple of guidelines in medical ethics and the Hippocratic oath. They can be summarized by “do no harm” and “help those who need it”. There are essentially two mistakes made when the students shut down the freedom to speak. One is the transference of the opinions of the speaker that they disagree with to the category of harm and threats ( thinking that justifies harming the speaker). This is particularly odious when the speaker is correct as this speaker is. But even if the views are controversial or wrong that is not an excuse for categorizing the speech as someting that needs violence and/or screaming. We only allow the government to administer punishment and only after several hurdles of due process. The second is the activist mistake of actually harming those they disagree with. Again, do no harm. Also, helping those who need it is a better approach. The answer to “we have to do something!” is help identify problem areas and the try to make them better in a positive way. Is the real problem police brutality or is it the behavior of those who break the law. Why not help out with the drug problems of most people who resist arrest by first raising awareness that there is a drug problem and supporting anti-drug programs. Become charitable with time if you don’t have money.
    In sum, choose the postive approach of helping rather than the negative approach of hurting people you disagree. When asked by students what they could do to help world affairs, the philosopher Wittgestein said “First fix yourself”.

  11. “It is insensitive and intimidating to expect students of color to confront Zorn . . .”

    If you’re that petrified by a white speaker (thank you, CRT), then don’t attend the event.

    “[T]hey are students and will learn from their experience.”

    Really? What will they learn? Will they learn anything about the noxious *ideas* that caused their racist behavior?

    Will they learn anything about the irrationality and destructiveness of tribalism and of social “justice?” Will they learn that blood-guilt determinism causes race wars? Will they learn about the evil of collectivism and of its bloody history? Will they learn that individualism is the cure for racism? Will they learn that replacing reason with vengeful emotion is a sure path to national suicide?

    Very doubtful.

  12. Thrasher fits right in to the Northwestern University’s effort to prove its “wokeness”. Otherwise the town of Evanston might not like them. Every block in this town has “BLM” and “Hate Has No Home Here” lawn and window signs. We don’t allow racists or Republicans in this town. Only accceptable speech is that approved by the DNC and BLM. So Thrasher is welcome; Zorn – not so much. It used to be a tolerant and diverse town when we brought our family here. Now only Democrats, poc, and gender fluid people can move about freely. Oh, and those who are applying for reparations.

  13. Putting “comfort” over truth is a very slippery slope. Universities today are training grounds for future Goebbels and Himmlers. A similar situation just happened with renowned composer Professor Bright Sheng, who showed (probably for the 100th time in his career) the film Othello with Olivier playing the Moor. A self-righteous “offended” freshman had him denounced, humiliated and nearly fired. You know this country is in trouble when a freshman — the lowest intellectual life form in academia — can have a world-renowned composer canceled for showing a film starring Olivier.

  14. It’s our fault that this stuff is happening, for ceding the responsibility for instruction of the young and impressionable to people like Thrasher and Coll, and so many others.

    A Chair for Social Justice? Really? How much does that take put of their slush fund?

  15. Notice how the kids have been taught to smear and dismiss those of opposing views? Taught by the leftist how to wield imangined power, rather than use logic and reason?

  16. When I was a young journalist, I put two bumper stickers on my car, “ERA Now” and “Have a Heart, Give a Kidney.” I was told I couldn’t park in the company lot unless I removed them, as I was engaging in advocacy. We were also encouraged to register as independents or, failing that, never reveal our political affiliation — and certainly never contribute to or attend a rally for a candidate. How things have changed, and the media are paying the price in lost revenue and confidence.

    1. I looked up Steven Thrasher on google. Mr. Thrasher may think his background gives him the moral authority to calumniate Mr. Zorn. Thought experiment: Does Mr. Thrasher think that maybe the lynch mobs should have done more investigation before they hanged Leo Frank or Emmett Till?

  17. Good for Zorn.

    Maybe the days of Fascists hitting opponents
    cost free are coming to an end.

    As Turley said, the antidote to bad speech is more speech. The Lefty Fascists want their say, but don’t want their opponents to answer.

    Note that Zorn used Substack – it is proving its value.

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