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A Breitbart-Bannon drive to defund universities?

Robert Reich, professor of public policy | February 6, 2017

The events at Berkeley Wednesday night have been a boon to Milo Yiannopoulos, of Breitbart News, and to Steve Bannon, formerly head of Breitbart News and now Trump’s consigliere.

As you may know, on February 1, Berkeley gave Yiannopoulos a major forum to spout his racist and misogynistic vitriol. But police had to cancel the talk because about 150 masked agitators threw Molotov cocktails, smashed windows where Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak, and threw rocks and fireworks at the police – delivering made-for-TV images of a riot.

According to a promotional Breitbart story that ran before the event, Yiannopoulos was going to “call for the withdrawal of federal grants and the prosecution of university officials who endanger their students with their policies.”

Which is exactly what Trump did via tweet early the next morning:: “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view — NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”

Thursday night, Yiannopoulos had a friendly interview on Fox News’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” – a show that, according to the Washington Post, has ridden anger at left-wing activism into best-in-class prime time ratings.

Yiannopoulos wasn’t asked about the content of the speech that was shut down. The conversation focused instead on how Berkeley proved the point that the Left was ceding its right to federal grants by cracking down on free speech.

Which raises the possibility that Yiannopoulos and Breitbart were in cahoots with the agitators in order to lay the groundwork for a Trump crackdown on universities and their federal funding.

Thursday night on CNN, I said “I wouldn’t bet against” that possibility. Almost immediately an indignant article appeared in Breitbart News, misleadingly headlined “Robert Reich Lies, Claims Breitbart News Organized Berkeley Riots.”

Hmmm. Connect these dots:

(1) Yiannopoulos writes for Breitbart News, which Steve Bannon – Trump’s strategy director – ran before joining Trump.

(2) Before Yiannopoulos speaks at Berkeley, Breitbart publishes an article saying that Yiannopoulos will call for the withdrawal of federal grants and the prosecution of university officials who endanger their students with their policies.

(3) Berkeley opens its doors to Yiannopoulos, but campus police have to cancel the event because of masked agitators.

(4) Hours later, Trump issues a misleading tweet, accusing the university of not allowing free speech and promoting violence against innocent people with different views, and threatening to withhold federal funds.

(5) The next night, Yiannopoulos on Fox News says the incident proves that universities like Berkeley don’t deserve federal grants by cracking down on free speech.

(6) That same night, on CNN, I raise the possibility that Yiannopoulos and Breitbart could have been collaborating with the agitators – saying “I wouldn’t bet against it.” This generates a belligerent column in Breitbart with a misleading headline calling me a liar for claiming that Breitbart News organized the riots.

I don’t want to add to the conspiratorial musings of so many about this very conspiratorial administration, but it strikes me there may be something worrying going on here.

I wouldn’t bet against it.

Cross-posted from Robert Reich’s blog

Comments to “A Breitbart-Bannon drive to defund universities?

  1. UC Berkeley is a magnet for leftist rioters.

    You and other contributors to the Berkeley Blog and Daily Californian are responsible for stirring things up. Here are some examples:

    “The Donald and the Duce”
    http://blogs.berkeley.edu/2016/11/02/the-donald-and-the-duce/

    “Why Trump merits the “f” word”
    http://blogs.berkeley.edu/2016/03/10/why-trump-merits-the-f-word/

    Editorial Cartoons, Friday, February 3, 2017, Students cleaning up campus
    http://www.dailycal.org/2017/02/03/students-cleaning-campus/

    “Berkeley students should organize protest against Milo Yiannopoulos”
    http://www.dailycal.org/2017/01/31/berkeley-students-organize-protest-milo-yiannopoulos/

    “Berkeley must continue fight against Trump’s xenophobic actions”
    http://www.dailycal.org/2017/01/27/berkeley-must-continue-fight-trump/

    “Berkeley College Republicans must not normalize hate speech”
    http://www.dailycal.org/2017/01/17/campus-group-must-not-normalize-hate-speech/

    “Open letters calling for cancellation of Milo Yiannopoulos event”
    http://www.dailycal.org/2017/01/10/open-letter-calling-cancellation-milo-yiannopolous-event/

  2. I do give you credit for having the strength to not delete this entire post. I probably would have by now if I were you. Have you read your own school’s newspaper lately? Nearly every editorial is written by Berkeley students claiming violence is the answer and how they and their friends were there contributing to the riot.

  3. Anybody remember when Berkeley kicked the marine recruiters out and the federal government threatened to defund causing the immediate reinstatement of said recruiters? I do. Berkeley has a history of intolerance and bad behavior. This conspiracy theory is just a bid to not get defunded for promoting intolerance.
    Here’s a novel idea. Stop drawing attention to Milo by not protesting him. Wow. What a concept. Let the guy speak to whatever audience he gathers and let it be. Instead of national coverage and negative publicity, you can just keep teaching and doing business. Milo draws his audience for a day and nobody threatens to take away funding, damage property, accost Starbucks, and the whole thing gets forgotten in the matter of a week.

  4. Actually, I did watch the interview with Tucker and Milo clearly states the lecture was to be about cultural appropriation. He even went on to explain he was upset because he didn’t get to wear his Milo bedazzled feathered headdress.

  5. Robert, Robert, Robert. How is anyone supposed to take what you’re saying as true when you begin your rant calling Milo a “racist” shouting “misogynistic vitriol”, something that is unequivocally false

  6. This is the funniest thing I’ve read all week! Talk about taking paranoid conspiracy theories to a new level. There are enough liberal whack jobs in the San Francisco Bay area to stage a major riot without the help of undercover conservatives pretending to be angry liberals. Conservatives are too busy earning a living and supporting their families to contrive such nonsense. Remember the anti-police Oakland riots a few years ago? Yep – the left can do violence and rioting just fine on their own, and there are plenty of them around Berkeley.

  7. Sounds like maybe just maybe Milo was actually telling the truth abut today’s colleges… And his point was proven right. But God forbid a conservative wins an argument with not only facts but physical proof, it must be a conspiracy or a set-up. The real truth is college professors lead a sheltered life of teaching and not doing- get out into the real world and Learn a thing or two and you would see why the country voted the way they did. California is like a whole different country and their ideals aren’t ours. They live in a bubble of their own making and refuse to even listen to ideas that aren’t theirs, as evidenced by riots in the light of free speech. Articles like this just make us more “right.” You might be appealing to your small group of Cali liberals but the left will continue to get smaller ad smaller with these tactics. The regular people look at these actions, riots, protests and “misleading articles” with disgust and people I knew who used to be super liberal are changing sides because they don’t want to be affiliated with the madness. And that’s all we see, is a party that’s far from “inclusive”, is fascist in actions while trying to fight perceived fascism (and couldn’t explain what it is if you asked them), and spout the word racist at every white person they see which is actually racist …. And I could go on and on with the hypocrisy but y’all have done a great job presenting it on your own.

  8. Robert,
    Ironically, you failed to mention the Berkley mayor’s comments that may have added to the riots. And let’s call the chaos what it was – a violent riot. And if you do just a bit of research you can find the leftist’s site (Refuse Fascism) claimed responsibility for this violence. Additionally, The Hill and KQED News reported the mayor’s comments and his stance on the event and violence that occurred. But providing a balanced examination of the events seemed to elude you. Is Milo controversial? Yes. But so are many speakers on the left whom make statements others may not agree with. But the difference is very evident when looking at the violent, rude, and/or bigoted attacks on speakers on the political right (Ann Coulter for example). Milo has called for alumni’s hold back their donations they give to their schools until they support polite and inclusive views beyond the liberal left’s point of view. By no means do I support eliminating reading and discussing Leftist, socialist, Marxist, and popular philosophy and thought. But not including Rightist, Conservative, Libertarian philosophy and thought fails to provide young adults with a full and truly diverse education that prepares them for the real world. Some food for thought.

  9. Wow. This just doesn’t fly and sounds terribly desperate. I noticed you failed to mention the scathing letter that Berkeley’s Chancellor sent out to all the students insulting Milo & complaining that he was forced due to free speech rights to let Milo appear. He was practically begging for his peeps to do this. Why don’t you stop being divisive & be constructive. I think the first commenter had some excellent points….especially why Trump won the election.

  10. Given that Black Bloc and their style of violent agitator have been around for decades, and have appeared at demos all over the US, and that here in the Uk we face the same thuggery from the same kind of people at every event that isn’t stamped as politically correct, Breitbart would have to be basically a global conspiracy able to marshal thousands of thugs, anywhere in the world, at a moment’s notices.

    That strikes me as a bit of a demented concept Robert. I’d suggest you try to re-engage with reality, and accept that these lefty fascists were exactly who they claimed to be.

  11. what a joke. this kind of mental gymnastics is the product of a man who prima facie decided that the left couldn’t possibly be full of the same undesirables its always been a magnet for–from the bolsheviks to the maoists and so on, once the left realizes its lost the war of ideas it turns to violence to ensure it gets what it wants. it’s a shame someone as “educated” as you refuses to even acknowledge the possibility that the left’s sordid history is simply repeating itself.

  12. You’re delusional, this is nothing short of a conspiracy theory, what’s worse is you post this made up, proof less theory knowing that the media will side with you anyway because how biased they are to right wing movements

    Those 150 guys you’re talking about? they’re the BlackBloc, the AntiFas, and other various sorts of far leftist anarchist movement. They’re the same people who’ve been harassing Trump supporters since before, during and after election, these are the very same people who create violent protest in every Trump’s rally, the very same people who block and harass Trump supporters in his every speech and during his inauguration, which of course the media will always blame on Trump anyway just because he offends the left, like Yiannapoulos

    Look at the news, are there any right wing movement that did violent protest? or even have the capability to create such violence? compare that to far left organisations, who’ve used to violent tactics since Occupy wall street, BLM, etc. why are you so surprised that the left use the same tactics to shut Trump supporters? what make these violent protesters any different than your usual far leftist thugs? that you could create this theory that its conspiracy theory against Universities

    Once again look up BlackBloc and Antifas, in case you really don’t know who these protesters are

    • Sadly….sometimes I find the only way to prove this is to have these folks say the Pledge of Allegiance…..the look on their face when they get to the word “republic” is priceless!

  13. LOL That “conspiracy, connect the dots”-thing you think you figured out, is actually called COMMON SENSE. I suggest you look it up!! Trump just has the amazing ability to immediately identify logical inconsistencies and regular bullsh*t, and point it out on Twitter for the world to see.

  14. My God. Can Professor Reich and UC Berkeley administrators be ignorant of the Oakland Black bloc who have been breaking windows and setting fires since the Oscar Grant protests and all through Occupy? It was the refusal of Occupy to disown the violence of the Black bloc that was one of the main causes of the failure of Occupy. Decent people who agreed with Occupy’s principles got tired of watching store windows get smashed every night.

    This is beneath UC Berkeley. Not beneath Professor Reich, clearly.

  15. The tone of this article is ridiculous … it sounds like an attempt to justify the violence at Berkeley because you didn’t like what the speaker was saying . There is no excuse for violence … ever.

    It’s time for liberals to grow up. If you don’t like what someone is saying… don’t watch . Or go attend a demonstration that does appeal to your belief . It’s really that simple.

    People on the left still haven’t figured out why they lost… these riots and the tone of this article … are why they lost .

    Liberals are doubling down on the failed election strategy. Why would anyone do that ?

  16. Yes, it was out of the ordinary that antifa rioted against a Right Wing speaker at Berkeley.

    A conspiracy is what makes the most sense.

    Otherwise, Yiannopoulos could have never anticipated (fake) antifa’s presence. Who could have? What would the precedent have been?

    I wouldn’t bet against Breitbart organizing the inauguration riots as well. If they were in on the Berkley riots, then they assuredly organized the inauguration riots. Given the obvious connection between the rioters, that is what makes the most sense.

    Thank you, UC Berkeley, for being brave enough to publish Robert’s short article. It succeeds in both absolving the University of any wrong doing in not managing the riots toward great bodily harm of several people on campus, as well as allows us to witness Robert’s obvious integrity and intellect.

  17. So a gay man, with a black boyfriend, spouts racist and misogynistic vitriol? Please. Why is it that the instant a person disagrees with any leftist liberal narrative or agenda they are labeled a racist bigot or a Fascist? I have never seen a right winged or conservative protest turn into an event full of opportunistic violence and arson. Our 1st amendment grants the people the right to peaceably assemble and to petition the Government for a redress or grievances, not to riot, loot and destroy. What are these people learning at these centers of education?
    Our institutions of higher learning were once very open to points of view from nearly any race, culture, belief system or opinion. This was to foster free independent thought and open debate in order to be well informed and intellectually prepared to analyze all sides of any issue. Now it seems as though our colleges and universities are now only institutions of indoctrination and political policy pushing.
    I am saddened that the exchange of information and ideas among those wishing to be educated is being crushed before our very eyes along with our 1st amendment rights. To censor and attack free speech, unpopular or otherwise, is a step in the wrong direction towards fascism. Once we no longer have the right to share and defend our thoughts, beliefs and reasoning with others in a peaceful manner our humanity is not far behind.

  18. God, you people are so out of touch with the rest of the country it is disgusting. For years the liberal regressives have been sprouting hate towards those who have a different idea. Now that it is all blowing back up in your face you look to point fingers to deflect the blame.

    A major part of being a man is owning up to your mistakes. You sir, are not any measure of a man. I can only hope you see the errors of your ways.

  19. Mr. Reich, instead of spewing these conspiracy theories, how about questioning why there was only one arrest that resulted from the violence? Where we’re the police? Why were the vandals and black-masked anarchists not grabbed as soon as they damaged property (you know, an actual crime)?

    You might also question the large amount of violent “protest/riots” that happened prior to President Trump’s election. You know, the ones where “protestors” were paid by DNC contractors or George Soros’-funded “community organizations” to shut down rallies in Chicago, or stir up violence in others?

    Additionally, your classification/name-calling/labeling of Milo is libelous and defamatory. He is not a racist or misogynist. He is against professional agitators like Black Lives Matter and militant feminists. He is absolutely right in declaring that those groups, among others of the perpetual victim class, are deeply responsible for the cultural division the country is facing today. Get your facts straight.

  20. So your proof of this is the fact that a free speech advocate is advocating for free speech and his boss is in the White House? Are we really going to ignore the several years leading up to this point? It’s quite clear that the regressive left is very, very real and that they have a problem with free speech and would rather throw around labels than engage in the open exchange of ideas and debate. Democrats have historically been terrible at getting rid of groups that co-opt their politics and platform and it’s something that they need to do quickly because they’re going to continue losing until they do. The political left in this country (and the West overall) needs to get their **** together considering that one of the largest groups of Milo’s audience are disenfranchised liberals such as myself who are sick and tired of free speech being shut down. Especially an event like this that takes place on a once respectable campus and is open to the public and includes a Q&A session where those who wish can speak out can do so as long as it’s in a rational, respectful manner.

  21. Robert,

    How can you be proud of such an article? Your points just prove that these protesters can get away with anything and, instead of having repercussions, there are actually people like you that will just find a creative way to always blame Trump! How about people take responsibility for their actions? You mention that Milo posted before his speech. What does this have to do with anything? The protesters still showed up, they still caused damage, they are an embarrassment to our nation and YOU blame the opposition? Wow!

    I understand and believe in free speech and peaceful protests, however democrats have gone too far. When you have to cover your face to protest, then you are planning to do something bad. People are acting like animals and pun instead, downright “nasty,” in every grotesque way that word implies. As a career focused, hard working woman, I am disgusted this is how some women in our society feel it’s ok to act. Perhaps Sharia Law will do them some good, especially since a main organizer of the march believes in it.

    As far as CNN, the Clinton News Network, there is a reason Fox is leading in ratings… more than double that of CNN and MSNBC, because the majority of people are sick of hearing garbage, like your article. It’s sad that I have to watch World News Networks to get an unbiased view of what’s going on in American. Shouldn’t that be your job?

  22. Robert, I sincerely hope you take time to digest the first comment by Mr. St. John. Further, I’d encourage you to steer clear of the current leftist vitriol by labeling disagreeable speech as “hate speech” and branding individuals racists when the label doesn’t fit, or lacks support from actual data. It takes years to earn credibility, and seconds to destroy it. You have long been a voice sought for reason and logical thought, and it would be discouraging to see you treated as an overreactionary leftist.

    Mr. St. John said the rest far better than I could. We need to learn, and we need to hold those we elect – as well as those who disseminate information to the general public – fully accountable to delivering against our expecctations of commitment and honesty. In this the mainstream media failed even more spectacularly than our existing political structure.

  23. Yvette Falarca with By Any Means Necessary just took credit for the riot, shutting down free speech, and justifying it in the name of fighting fascism. While behaving like a fascist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPrRLyFTzSU.
    Is Robert Reich try to “rain on her parade” (or, riot, as the case may be)?
    Come on guys & gals & fellow leftist fascists, lets make up your minds and take credit where it’s due. Don’t be shy! Yvette’s not shy – according to her next riot will be bigger ‘n better than ever! Don’t forget those “Burn Permits” from Bay Area Air Quality!

  24. This is really how free speech dies, stolen from within… Pretty ironic considering free speech was an angular point of this university

  25. Good Grief Robert, this sounds like a cry for help from someone who is supposed to be giving us solutions to prevent these kinds of problems. But it just shows that we are nowhere near to solving the increasingly chaotic threats to our democracy and civilization that also include uncontrolled environmental failures, worldwide violence and insoluble inequalities to make the task even more impossible.

    So maybe the number one thing we must do is find a leader, or leaders who can educate, motivate and unite us to demand solutions to the problems that our current political and intellectual leaders have proven to be beyond their capabilities because the power of money has reduced them to a state of uselessness, or worse.

    We must first accept the fact that one of the harshest lessons we learned from this election was that both of our political parties marginalized too many We The People that chose Trump out of total loss of confidence in our leaders in Washington.

    Now where do we go from here?

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