Republican Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona sent a letter to Arizona State University on Wednesday, condemning university officials’ decision to pressure a student to quit over a tweet in which she shared some facts about Jacob Blake.
A viral video showed Blake, the black man shot on Aug. 23 by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, being shot in the back seven times after he resisted arrest and attempted to get into his car. The Wisconsin Department of Justice later issued a statement saying two tasers had been deployed but failed to stop the 29-year-old suspect, and a knife was found on the floorboard near where he reached into the vehicle.
Rae’Lee Klein, a student journalist and station manager at ASU’s Blaze Radio, then tweeted out a New York Post story revealing that Blake was wanted in connection with three charges filed last month in retaliation to an alleged sexual assault against the very woman who had called police shortly before the shooting.
Klein captioned her tweet with “Always more to the story, folks. Please read this article to get the background of Jacob Blake’s warrant. You’ll be quite disgusted.”
The board of directors at ASU’s Blaze Radio station then voted for Klein’s removal from her management position. While the board doesn’t actually have the power to force Klein out, they no longer recognize her as station manager.
Lesko took issue with the board’s actions in a letter to Kristin Gilger, the interim dean at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication (under which Blaze Radio operates).
The congresswoman then shared the letter, and her disappointment in ASU, with the public on Twitter.
We must respect diversity of thought & cannot bow to cancel culture.
— Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (@RepDLesko) September 10, 2020
“I write to you to express my deep disappointment in the Blaze Radio Board of Directors’ decision to ‘no longer recognize’ Rae’lee Klein as the station manager over a tweet from her personal account,” the congresswoman wrote.
“This precipitous reaction from her fellow student-leaders gives me concern over the School’s commitment to diversity of thought, rigorous fact-finding and checking, and overall integrity in reporting.”
She went on to point out that while the Walter Cronkite College Council called the tweet “factually misleading, discriminatory, and racist,” there was no counterargument offered as to how the Jacob Blake police records could have been falsified.
“It is shameful to vilify and attempt to destroy a college student for a personal tweet that contains no threats, no racial slurs, nor even hostile wording. Ms. Klein’s sensitive fellow students grossly misinterpreted the meaning and intent of her two-line tweet,” Lesko continued.
“This display from the Walter Cronkite College Council and Blaze Radio Board of Directors, if left unchecked by the School itself, will reinforce the idea to these student organizations that it is acceptable to virtually tar and feather their peers for expressing ideas that do not conform to their own narrow worldview.”
“I recognize that the uproar is largely student-led, and I hope to see reason and justice come from the distinguished leaders of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and the administration of ASU.”
Shortly after the Blaze Radio board of directors voted to oust Klein, the young journalist spoke with The Western Journal about her experiences dealing with being canceled by her own school.
“They call me out on hurting the industry, but they’re inherently the ones doing it because they’re trying to censor which truth gets out, and just because it may be hard to hear doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be told,” Klein told The Western Journal.
“I think a lot of different news outlets, unfortunately, they pick and choose which stories that they want to tell that fits their audience and they run it like a business, and that’s not what journalism is supposed to be.”
“I’m a patriot first and a journalist second,” she said. “I will never turn my back on the people that I work for.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.