In a highly anticipated ceremony on Thursday, President Trump signed an executive order directing the government to take action in protecting free speech on college campuses. It wasn’t something that enthused the liberal broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, and, NBC) so they omitted it from their evening broadcasts. Instead, they all cheered on New Zealand for their swift movement in banning so-called “assault weapons.” So, that’s two rights the liberal media seemingly don’t like.
The evening news on Univision and Telemundo also ignored the President's action on the free speech front, while CNN en Español's principal evening newscast gave the story a perfunctory 30 seconds.
In sharp contrast, Fox News and chief White House correspondent John Roberts covered the story early on during Special Report.
“At a ceremony in the East Room this afternoon, President Trump took a step he hopes will ensure all voices are heard on college campuses across the nation,” Roberts reported. “In an executive order, the President directed his cabinet agencies to tie federal grants for education and research to more aggressive enforcement of the First Amendment.”
At the signing ceremony, President Trump explained to the crowd how “under the guise of speech codes, and safe spaces, and trigger warnings, these universities have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity and shut down the voices of great young Americans.”
Roberts added: “The move follows incidents at several colleges and universities where conservatives have been targeted, including UC Berkeley were a student, Aidan Williams, was punched in the face for supporting the President and conservative policies.” And it was something Trump had announced during his annual CPAC address earlier this month.
The executive order was welcomed by many, including the non-partisan Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), who said in a press release: “To the extent that today’s executive order asks colleges and universities to meet their existing legal obligations, it should be uncontroversial.”
The press release added:
FIRE knows from years of experience that censorship silences students and faculty from across the ideological and political spectrum. Any principled and effective defense of freedom of expression must protect student and faculty expressive rights without regard to viewpoint. To secure the benefits of the “marketplace of ideas” for campus communities and for our nation as a whole, all students and faculty must be free to peacefully speak their minds.
FIRE did have some questions about the enforcement of the executive order, because, as Fox News noted in an online report: “Public universities seeking funding would have to certify they comply with the First Amendment, which already applies to them. Private universities, which have more flexibility in limiting speech, would need to commit to their own institutional rules.”
Roberts also reported that the executive order “also requires colleges to be more transparent with data regarding debt and earnings of their graduates broken down into areas of study.”
Again, this was something that went completely unmentioned by the liberal broadcast networks Thursday evening. ABC and NBC found it more important to hype the possible completion on the Special Counsel’s report, which was expected at any time.
The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:
Fox News Channel’s Special Report
March 21, 2019
6:05:58 p.m. Eastern
BRET BAIER: President Trump took action on another front today to protect First Amendment rights on college campuses. Chief White House correspondent John Roberts has that part of the story.
[Cuts to video]
JOHN ROBERTS: At a ceremony in the East Room this afternoon, President Trump took a step he hopes will ensure all voices are heard on college campuses across the nation.
DONALD TRUMP: We’re here to take historic action to defend American students and American values. They’ve been under siege.
ROBERTS: In an executive order, the president directed his cabinet agencies to tie federal grants for education and research to more aggressive enforcement of the First Amendment. It's a move he promised it down like at last month's CPAC conference.
TRUMP: I will be very soon signing an executive order requiring colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal research dollars.
ROBERTS: The move follows incidents at several colleges and universities where conservatives have been targeted, including UC Berkeley were a student, Aidan Williams, was punched in the face for supporting the President and conservative policies. President Trump brought Williams up on stage with him at CPAC.
TRUMP: You see people being punched hard in the face, but he didn't go down. I said you have a better chin than Mohammed Ali.
ROBERTS: Critics say the move is more symbolic than substantive because there are already free-speech laws governing federal grants to schools. But President Trump is directing his cabinet agencies to draw up guidelines what they believe is compliance with the First Amendment.
The executive order also requires colleges to be more transparent with data regarding debt and earnings of their graduates broken down into areas of study. The idea was first proposed by Senator Marco Rubio during the 2016 presidential campaign so students can make informed choices about what field to follow.