Zachary Wood

This episode flips the format, with my guest interviewing me for a change. Zachary Wood is a graduate of Williams College, where he was the president of a student group called “Uncomfortable Learning,” whose mission was to invite to campus outside speakers with a heterodox perspective (which is code for “conservative” for the most part). Invitees included Charles Murray, Christina Hoff Sommers, David French, John Christy, and others. For this transgression against campus orthodoxy, Zach was dressed down by the president of William College, and further instructed that he should “be careful” about what he wrote in the student newspaper—a story he tells in this article published recently by the National Association of Scholars.

From this experience Zach has understandably become concerned about free speech generally, and freedom of the press in particular, and when Zach told me that he was interested in recording some interviews and conversations with people (starting with me) on free speech and free press issues, but didn’t yet have an online platform ready to launch, I decided to offer him an episode of the Power Line Show to start things rolling. As journalism was my first career right out of college back around the time of the Boer War, we thought it would be fun and informative to go through some long-term perspectives on modern media.

Zachary R. Wood is an Assistant Curator at TED, as well as a former Columnist and Assistant Opinion Editor at The Guardian, and a former Robert L. Bartley Fellow at The Wall Street Journal. His recent work has appeared in The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalThe Washington PostHuffPostThe NationThe Weekly StandardTimes Higher Education, and Inside Higher Ed.  In 2017, he gave US Senate testimony opposing the recent string of college speaker disinvitations and in defense of viewpoint diversity. He’s planning to attend law school in the not too distant future.

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There are 8 comments.

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  1. Richard Easton Member
    Richard Easton
    @RichardEaston

    Good podcast. When Zach said that journalists should challenge the president, I would have asked why that didn’t happen with Obama.

    • #1
  2. Hank Rhody, Badgeless Bandito Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Badgeless Bandito
    @HankRhody

    Before I complain about journalists being labelled enemies of the people I’d like at least a little evidence that they’re not.

    • #2
  3. LibertyDefender Inactive
    LibertyDefender
    @LibertyDefender

    Zach has a very well developed perspective on Trump’s relationship with the press.  His viewpoint encompasses that of MSNBC, CNN and NPR!

    Trump is misogynist?  Give me a break.  Steve should have pushed back on that accusation.  When Trump points out to a woman that her question was so biased and disingenuous as to be “nasty,” that doesn’t mean Trump hates women.

    It seemed to me that Steve Hayward swung and missed at the question re which Democrat presidents were most effective dealing with the press.  The mainstream press is 100% Democrats.  Even Zach Wood prefaced one of his questions by saying “you’re a conservative.  I’m a Democrat.”

    I wish Powerline would get the whole band back together for the Powerline podcast.

    • #3
  4. Dr.Guido Member
    Dr.Guido
    @DrGuido

    You’re underrated. Your guest host is overrated.

    He’s young but utterly failed to hide the fact that he was NOT inclined to be objective. You, on the other hand, (if I may transpose myself into your shoes) did a masterful job of restraint. 

    I would miss you—-I will not, I think, miss him.

    • #4
  5. rdowhower Inactive
    rdowhower
    @rdowhower

    Good example of why young people should live in the real world, i.e. stay out of organizing things, avoid internships writing for newspapers, don’t go to law school, etc., etc., before being taken at all seriously or given platforms like this by accomplished and wise elders like Steve.  Steve’s guest obviously views reality through mainstream media lenses.

    • #5
  6. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    I’m just over half way through this podcast and looking forward to finishing it. One thing I’ve noticed thus far is your guest’s apparent disinterest in the press’s role in the decline in journalism. He mentions how aggressive Trump is toward the press and what a challenge that represents to the people who question him; he mentions social media and its ability to drive public perception in harmful ways; and he mentions the public’s short attention span. But he hasn’t mentioned — so far — the well documented press bias, the degree to which “gotcha” journalism has replaced actual reporting, and the group-think bandwagon style of national coverage and its obsession with turning everything into an attack on the President.

    I think he also misunderstood your point about the value of journalists knowing something other than journalism. I think this is a great failing of modern journalism, that it has come to see itself as a profession rather than a trade and therefore arrogated to itself an authority to which it’s wholly unworthy. G-d save us from the rock stars of journalism.

    • #6
  7. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    I’m just over half way through this podcast and looking forward to finishing it. One thing I’ve noticed thus far is your guest’s apparent disinterest in the press’s role in the decline in journalism. He mentions how aggressive Trump is toward the press and what a challenge that represents to the people who question him; he mentions social media and its ability to drive public perception in harmful ways; and he mentions the public’s short attention span. But he hasn’t mentioned — so far — the well documented press bias, the degree to which “gotcha” journalism has replaced actual reporting, and the group-think bandwagon style of national coverage and its obsession with turning everything into an attack on the President.

    I think he also misunderstood your point about the value of journalists knowing something other than journalism. I think this is a great failing of modern journalism, that it has come to see itself as a profession rather than a trade and therefore arrogated to itself an authority to which it’s wholly unworthy. G-d save us from the rock stars of journalism.

    Perhaps as part of his disinterest in the press’s own role in the decline of journalism, the guest host also seems unable or unwilling to distinguish between press questions challenging the President with information-seeking questions and press questions that are nothing more than bullying.

    I can’t say that I have much sympathy when a bully gets punched back. 

    • #7
  8. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Richard Easton (View Comment):

    Good podcast. When Zach said that journalists should challenge the president, I would have asked why that didn’t happen with Obama.

    I was also curious why Obama’s surveilling and harassment of the press wasn’t mentioned among the presidents who threatened freedom of the press. The guest host seemed rather stuck in his apparent view that Democrat presidents can do no wrong, and Republican presidents are presumed to be always doing wrong. 

    • #8