Last Week, a … [UC Berkeley] Professor Confronted a Muslim Student During a Dinner for Graduating Law Students

Here are the closing paragraphs of yesterday’s NBC News article, “Columbia University protesters resume demonstrations after mass arrests”:

Is this really a fair and objective summary of what happened at the Chemerinsky dinner? “Confronted a Muslim student,” with no further explanation, strongly implies that the student was confronted for being a Muslim, rather than that for trying to give a speech in the middle of a social occasion. I know of no evidence that Dean Chemerinsky or Professor Fisk (they are married) targeted the student for her religion, as opposed to her disruptive conduct.

If you want an analogy, imagine there was a controversy about the police arresting someone who happened to be Catholic for blocking an abortion clinic entrance, and the incident was characterized (with no mention of the person’s misconduct) as “Last week, Berkeley officials confronted a Catholic on a city sidewalk.” Would that be a fair journalistic summary?

I think even the USC discussion ought to have been framed differently: The student’s speech was canceled, I think, because she had in the past expressed support for sharply anti-Israel views, and I expect there would have been comparable outrage against her if she had been a non-Muslim expressing such views. The most accurate way to describe the incident would be to describe her as a person who had expressed anti-Israel views. (Likewise, if pro-Israel Jewish students are targeted for being pro-Israel, I think coverage of that incident should accurately characterize them as pro-Israel students, not as Jews.) But the Berkeley situation seems to me even more clearly misdescribed.