WATCH: Profs worried about Campus Reform, threaten student correspondent
PEN America hosted a Zoom discussion with professors who felt they were "targeted" by Campus Reform.
One professor even said that she knows "way more about" a certain Campus Reform correspondent "than she knows about me.”
During a Zoom discussion discussing “the experience of being threatened, intimidated and harassed,” professors Lora Burnett, who teaches at Collin College, and Sami Schalk, who teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, took aim at Campus Reform as part of the “right-wing media ecosphere.”
Burnett, who was recently fired from her job at Collin College after the school condemned a series of "vile" tweets referring to Vice President Mike Pence as a "demon" and accusing former President Donald Trump of being “the head of a death cult,” said the school “threw me under the bus.”
The event took place on November 13, 2020, over Zoom.
The panel was hosted by PEN America, which is a "nationwide community of more than 7,500 novelists, journalists, nonfiction writers, editors, poets, essayists, playwrights, publishers, translators, agents, and other writing professionals, as well as devoted readers and supporters" whose mission is to "is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible."
Burnett told her colleagues on the Zoom chat that she is frequently "targeted" by Campus Reform, who she said she has been “studying.”
After Campus Reform reported on both hers and Schalk’s tweets calling Pence a “racist f**king piece of s**t” and a “scumbag lying sonofab***h,” Burnett accused Campus Reform of exposing these tweets due to them being “women, and we both work for public institutions.”
“This will blow over for our institution because there will be a fresh, coordinated campaign of outrage targeting somebody else," Burnett said.
[RELATED: College president publicly condemns prof's 'hateful,' 'vile' tweets exposed by Campus Reform]
UW-Madison Professor Sami Schalk expressed frustration that "progressive professors" are blamed for "destroying the country."
Immediately after, she said their goal as professors is to "change" students.
“I mean, I think it’s ironic, right? that you send your kid to college and they come home with these new ideas as if education is a thing that changes people. Like yes, of course, that’s what we want to do," Schalk said.
Later in the discussion, Schalk admitted that UW-Madison’s spokeswoman, Meredith Mcglone, messages her when Campus Reform sends media inquiries and added that the IT department scrubs information from their websites when the school is contacted.
“Meredith Mcglone, who's one of the communications folks like she just has my cell phone number, and she'll text me and be like, Oop! Campus Reform emailed me about you again today -- like just a heads up,’ and then we have a plan... The IT folks know how to handle it when we need to remove all my information from the websites for a little while," Schalk said.
Jonathan Friedman, the director of free expression and education for PEN America, sided with the professors over the controversy, stating that universities should "do the right thing to stand up for faculty unequivocally."
After defending the current state of academia, Burnett said that Campus Reform “brought us together” for the meeting.
“In terms of the particular outlet that has brought us together today, Campus Reform. This is an outlet that grows out of a conservative effort to discredit and defund higher education,” Burnett said.
She then made light of "right-wing" students who feel "disrespected" for their views.
“Campus Reform didn’t come up because some poor, you know, right-wing students felt disrespected. You know, it is a top-down heavily funded, disinformation organization and for a bunch of people who cry about cancel-culture and political correctness, they spend an awful lot of time trying to get people canceled for their free speech," Burnett said.
[RELATED: Campus Reform reporters, professor targeted with death threats, online harassment]
Friedman followed these comments by insisting that there is a "parallel" to the "organized nature" on the right.
“The organized nature of it also, which doesn't exactly really doesn't have a parallel on the other side of the political spectrum currently, not that there aren't actors there. But the in terms of its organization in terms of its funding, it doesn't," Friedman said.
Burnett then took aim at Campus Reform correspondent Haley Worth, saying, “Believe me, I know way more about [Haley] than she knows about me.”
At the end of the Zoom call, Schalk chimed in on Burnett’s comments regarding Worth, saying they need to “give them a taste of their own medicine.”
“Haley Worth, I don’t like her. I don’t like that little girl. So I’m gonna go ahead and say that publicly, because she is creating harassment for me and she knows it. So yes, the journalists that are journalists in scare quotes that are participating in this, absolutely, and if I do have someone who is dumb enough to send me an email from their actual account with their actual name, dumb, brave, whatever, um yeah, I will go ahead and make that real public too because I would love for people to have their, like, family and friends know the kind of things they are saying to me… Give them a taste of their own medicine," Schalk said.
Campus Reform reached out to both Burnett and Friedman. They did not respond in time for publication. Schalk was unable to be reached for comment.
Collin College, which recently chose not to renew Burnett’s contract, told Campus Reform, “Out of respect for our employees’ privacy, the college will not provide further comment on this matter.”
This isn't the first time Campus Reform has drawn the ire of professors merely for reporting on their statements. In March 2020, as universities shifted to online courses amid the coronavirus pandemic, professors across the country took to Twitter and other social media to express their concern over their lectures being shared with "right wing sites."
Trinity College in Connecticut, in January 2020, created a "Campus Reform Early Responder" position to "monitor" what it deemed to be "attacks" on professors.