Confronts Trump Press Secretary at University of Chicago

January 7, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

On January 4, the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics held a program featuring Trump’s chosen press secretary, Sean Spicer. Reuters news service published a story with video clip headlined, “Incoming Trump press secretary heckled in Chicago.” The story quoted the protester with Chicago yelling, as Spicer approached the podium, “You are a press secretary for Trump who threatens the press, denies facts, suppresses science and threatens people who expose his lies.” This action punctured a carefully orchestrated “normality” being built around the Trump regime including here at University of Chicago, one of the most prestigious centers of the academy in the U.S. The Reuters video was picked up by various news sites.

Controversy began on the University of Chicago campus in the weeks leading up to the Spicer event. The Institute of Politics, led by former Obama Press Secretary David Axelrod, welcomed Spicer’s appointment and invited him to speak as part of a series of events called “America in the Trump Era.” The Chicago Maroon, the campus paper, reported that the Spicer invitation provoked opposition among some students (“Incoming Trump Press Secretary Visit to IOP Sparks Controversy,” December 24). The Maroon quoted Jake Bittle, a fourth-year student and editor of the South Side Weekly, saying, “I don’t think that we need to treat this person like a normal press secretary coming in to talk about life on the job, and I think it is insidious that Axelrod called him a friend and is tacitly normalizing the administration by having him in for a discussion. It turns out that the IOP intends to treat this administration like a normal one and I don’t think students should treat this as business as usual... You would think they would know better than to give implicit sponsorship to a man who intends to change the way that freedom of the press operates in this country.”

Bittle and another University of Chicago student were summoned to the dean’s office, related to what were clearly sarcastic comments made regarding Spicer’s visit—in Bittle’s case, on his personal Facebook page. Bittle was then interviewed in a hostile way on January 2 by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, which kicked off Twitter threats against Bittle. This is an actual example of what the protester called out at the January 4 Spicer event—how the Trump fascists threaten individuals who stand up to them (whether it’s Trump directly or through his Twitter minions, as happened to Bittle).


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