This story was written by the Ithaca Voice’s Mike Smith.

Ithaca, NY – On Monday, Fox News aired a short, half-serious segment aimed at exposing the liberal bias of Cornell faculty.

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During filming, Fox interviewer Jesse Watters was asked not to interview students on campus. He complied, but not before trying to get Cornell’s media relations team to give him a concrete reason for their refusal. Instead, media relations director John Carberry tells Watters he’ll send him a statement. That statement, according to Watters, still did not answer the question of why he could not film there.

Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple criticized Watters’ treatment in a blog post following the incident. Wemple questioned the University’s handling of Watters, noting that while it was clear that he was there to be a provocateur, he posed no real threat to the students or the University.

The response came in the form of a statement released by University relations VP Joel Malina. According to the statement, the decision to deny Watters was “motivated by our responsibility to protect student privacy.”

Malina goes on to explain that most news organizations go through the University’s media relations department to schedule interviews with students. The statement concludes: “This was one of the rare cases where the media refused to cooperate, and we accordingly implemented our policy.”

The Fox News reporter on campus. Multiple national media outlets have reacted to him being booted from Cornell

Wemple, however, raised further questions about Cornell’s decision:

Though this “O’Reilly Factor” actor may come off as a cocky and shallow emissary of the national media, he poses no greater a threat to student privacy than, like, the Internet or any number of other avenues that college students choose these days to overshare.

No one will mistake Watters’ Cornell interviews for haute journalism, but the idea that he was harming anyone is unfair. We’ve asked Cornell to specify just how Watters was trashing student privacy and will update this post if we hear back.

Meanwhile, other media outlets had a different reaction to the episode. For instance, the left-leaning publication Salon recounted what had happened with a story titled, “More Fox News sexual harassment: Jesse Watters takes ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ back to its infamous loofah days.’”

Here’s Salon’s Amanda Marcotte:

The point of the segment was just to shovel red meat at the audience, but there was a brief moment that also, purely by accident, demonstrated why it’s so wrong to write off sexual harassment as just “compliments.” …

if you watch this video, it’s a really good example of how these so-called compliments are actually veiled insults or, in some cases, threats. On its surface, asking someone out to dinner is a nice gesture, a compliment. But clearly, that is not Watters intention. No, it’s clear from context that he doesn’t really want to go to dinner with this woman. Asking her out is just a way to put her in her place.  

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.