By Peter Dreier
I'm one of the roughly 200 professors listed on the Professor Watchlist, which claims to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students.” It was launched on November 21, two weeks after Donald Trump was elected president. It is sponsored by a right-wing group called Turning Point USA and run by a 22-year conservative named Charlie Kirk. The website is getting a lot of attention in both the mainstream and right-wing media. None of the stories about it so far have sought to identify where its funding comes from or who is really behind it. Mainstream news outlets, like The New York Times, have reported about it as a controversial group that might threaten free speech. Fox News, the Daily Caller, and other parts of the right-wing echo chamber celebrate it as a useful tool for exposing the allegedly “liberal” atmosphere on college campuses.
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If the Professor Watchlist were a research paper, I'd give it an F. Much of the information about me on the Watchlist is simply untrue. The entry about me links to a right-wing website called Discover the Networks that repeats lies about me that have been published in several books and websites by right-wing propagandists and apparent lunatics. [For example, it claims, incorrectly, that I once worked for the Industrial Areas Foundation, the community organizing network founded by Saul Alinsky. And it repeats a story, published in several other places, that as a young student at Columbia University, Barack Obama heard me speak on a panel at a Socialist Scholars Conference in New York. Also wrong. Some right-wing books, articles and websites take this fabricated story even further, and claim that it was this event that inspired Obama to become a community organizer. This is all complete fantasy.