Students, faculty respond to CNN hire of local Tea Partier

| Staff Reporter

Washington University students and faculty are divided over the impact of CNN’s controversial decision to hire Dana Loesch as a political correspondent.

Loesch, co-founder of the St. Louis Tea Party, was hired this month to be the 24-hour news channel’s Tea Party expert for the 2012 election.

“I believe things have been shaken up,” Jessica A. Brown, a teacher of media literacy in University College, said. “[CNN’s hiring of Loesch] gets people out of their comfort zone, which is good.”

Loesch is the editor-in-chief of Andrew Breitbart’s website, Big Journalism, and the host of “The Dana Show,” a conservative talk show in St. Louis. She has also made numerous media appearances on FOX News, ABC, CBS and CNN and has been a guest on “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

While the controversy surrounding Loesch’s hiring is being debated across various media outlets, politically involved students have their own interpretations of the event.

Junior Kevin Paule, president of Young Americans for Liberty at Washington University, believes that CNN’s decision reflects its bipartisan audience.

“The Tea Party is not only a major force in the Republican party, but also in the American political scene,” Paule said, “[The Young Americans for Liberty] are happy to see that CNN has come to this realization as millions of Americans call for the shrinking of government.”

Sophomore Joel Yambert, president of the College Republicans, also believes that Dana Loesch will be a good addition to the network.

“I am quite excited to hear about Loesch’s hiring at the CNN network,” Yambert said. “I feel that she has a lot of good to put forward to the network, and she has a strong foundation in her ideals. I believe that she is an intelligent woman who is able to look at both sides and always tell a straight story—she tells it as it is, if you will.”

Yambert also mentioned the fact that many conservatives, himself included, feel that CNN has a liberal bias.

“I feel that her addition to their team will be great for those on the right wing,” Yambert said. “It will also provide a new perspective and add more of a fair situation in CNN’s delivery of politics to the American public.”

In contrast, Adam Shriver, a graduate student in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology at the University and the leader of the St. Louis Activist Hub, believes that Loesch’s credibility as an analyst is questionable at best.

“Hiring Dana Loesch as an election analyst severely damages the credibility of CNN as a news organization, not because of the fact that she’s extremely conservative, but rather because she is a proponent of the Andrew Breitbart approach to journalism which is fundamentally dishonest when it comes to the gathering and presentation of information,” Shriver wrote in an e-mail to Student Life.

Shriver cited Loesch’s recent comments regarding Bristol Palin’s guest speaker controversy last week as an example of her dishonesty.

“Loesch was completely dishonest about the Bristol Palin controversy at Wash. U.…she claimed that Wash. U. paid Van Jones $20,000 to speak at the school,” Shriver said. “Actually, Van Jones usually speaks for $20,000, but agreed to speak at Wash. U. for only $5,000. Green Action applied for a small amount more for a panel, but they were turned down.”

Shriver concluded by addressing what, he believes, made this hiring controversial.

“There are plenty of honest people out there who can effectively communicate a conservative message,” he said. “I see no reason why CNN should hire a person with Loesch’s track record of pushing blatant misinformation.”

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