NYU Hires Disgraced Fact-Checker Caught Lying About Vet To Teach "Reporting on the Far Right" Class


“If you wonder why so many college students are so full of bs, this might give you an idea,” Brit Hume tweeted.

That’s a pretty bold claim. After all, there are plenty of things that can give you that idea. What exactly makes this stand out?

In this case, it involves Talia Lavin. You may have heard of her. She was a fact-checker for the New Yorker until June of last year.

She quit her job not because she had a better opportunity or because she made some minor internal mistake, mind you. She accused an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent on Twitter of having a Nazi tattoo when he, well, didn’t.

Oh, did we mention the ICE agent was a disabled war veteran? Yeah, that kind of increased the bad look.

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According to the New York Post, Lavin had said that ICE agent Justin Gaertner had a tattoo of a Nazi Iron Cross. It turns out it was actually the symbol for his platoon in Afghanistan. Whoops.

Anyhow, Lavin doesn’t deserve to be jobless for the rest of her life or anything. She’s obviously a talented individual who made a massive mistake, but surely there’s another job out there for her that doesn’t involve, say, being factually accurate about right-wing zealots.

Instead, she’s now being paid by New York University to be factually accurate about right-wing zealots.

“New York University has hired Talia Lavin as an adjunct journalism professor less than a year after the former New Yorker fact checker resigned after falsely accusing an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent of having a Nazi tattoo,” The Wrap reported.

Do you think that Talia Lavin should be teaching this class?

“Lavin’s undergraduate course ‘Reporting on the Far Right’ will kick off in the fall semester of 2019 at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. In its official faculty bio, the university billed Lavin as an expert in ‘far-right extremism and social justice.’”

I can just picture it now.

Lecture one on “Reporting on the Far Right:” How to mistake a regular tattoo on an ICE official for one that identifies him as a supporter of Adolf Hitler.

Lecture two: Getting a job with Media Matters for America after you lose your job for mistaking that tattoo for a Nazi symbol.

Lecture three: Taking little to no responsibility for your erroneous reporting on the “far right.”

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Lesson four: Landing a gig at NYU.

This is basically what Lavin is qualified to teach. See, after her unceremonious egress from the New Yorker, she ended up at Media Matters for America, the David Brock-founded clearinghouse for all things left-wing.

She’s apparently no longer employed there and she’s only mentioned in four articles on Media Matters’ website, including how the “learn to code” meme is coordinated harassment cooked up by 4chan and how President Trump’s criticism of George Soros “opened the gates for a wave of authoritarian and anti-Semitic attacks” on the liberal mega-donor. (On both accounts: Whatever. Also, this is the “far-right?” I can’t wait to see the syllabus for her NYU gig, in which Marco Rubio will no doubt be painted as a neo-Bircher. Yes, I’m sure some of the actual far-right will make its way into the course, but I can almost guarantee more than 50 percent of the class will involve attacks on traditional conservative values.)

But then again, it probably would have helped Lavin’s employment prospects if she showed something more than pro forma remorse for calling a disabled war vet an actual neo-Nazi when he wasn’t. Instead, she wants you to know that the real victim is Talia Lavin.

Her initial apology was kind of a step in the right direction: “To Justin Gaertner, I apologize, sincerely: all I saw in you was the photo ICE tweeted, and not the human being depicted inside it,” she wrote, according to the New York Post. “It was uncharitable, and the hasty deletion doesn’t change that. I’m sorry and I have voluntarily resigned after three years at the New Yorker.”

Everything after that was pretty much a dumpster inferno, unfortunately.

“I feel like I made a small mistake and it’s destroyed my life,” she told New York Magazine.

When ICE asked for an apology from the New Yorker and Lavin for her “baseless slander” of one of their agents, she responded: “I do not think it is acceptable for a federal agency to target a private citizen for a good faith, hastily rectified error.”

“ICE also lied about me, saying I originated the scrutiny of Gaertner’s tattoo, misspelling my name and misstating my job,” she added.

“This has been painful and scary, and as I move into an uncertain and financially precarious future, I will be focusing on my writing and any other freelance work I can find,” she said on Twitter. She then provided a link to her PayPal account.

And, in messages to the Tampa Bay Times, Lavin seemed to engage in a bit of conspiracy-mongering to explain why she was a target, implying that ICE was anti-Semitic.

“I wasn’t the genesis of this rumor; there are tweets still up with tens of thousands of likes explicitly calling the tattoo ‘Nazi,’” she said. “My own tweet was responsive to extant scrutiny, and I deleted it and issued a correction within 15 minutes, long before ICE could have been aware of it. I was targeted because I was part of a news organization critical of ICE.”

But not only that, she was targeted because she “was also a useful foil: a fat Jewish feminist with a Harvard education. ICE said I ‘baselessly slandered an American hero,’ artificially pitted me against a disabled veteran, and engineered a conservative news cycle in which I was a villain.”

And now, this individual will be teaching NYU students about reporting on the far-right.

Yeah, that sounds about right. NYU isn’t concerned about factual reporting on anything here, much less the far-right.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture