(The story was first published by the Washington Examiner as an investigative news article on 10/28/2021: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/newspaper-allegedly-censors-ad-criticizing-critical-race-theory.)
The Californians for Equal Rights Foundation was seemingly canceled by the San Diego Union-Tribune after they tried to place a voter education ad that criticized Critical Race Theory, according to a press release by CFER, a non-partisan and non-profit organization. The SDUT stated that CFER was presenting “opinions as facts” despite them providing “an item-by-item reference list of official documents to substantiate our statement that Poway Unified School District (PUSD) is teaching critical race theory (CRT).”
“Our attempt to expose the prevalence of CRT in PUSD in the forms of racial equity and ethnic studies was botched by a politically biased media platform,” said Frank Xu, president of CFER. “Not surprisingly, the Union-Tribune does not apply the same level of scrutiny to causes and advertisements they are ideologically aligned with.”
According to the press release, CFER contacted Pomerado News to place an ad in the San Diego Union Tribune earlier this month. The ad was to “raise public awareness on the issues of CRT and ethnic studies in PUSD and to announce our upcoming CRT Town Hall on November 18.” Pomerado News approved the ad but on the day the ad was supposed to go into print, the SDUT allegedly told CFER that they had to “provide detailed references to each claim, submit a disclaimer and show permission to use CRT quotes.”
One of the main issues that the SDUT allegedly identified as concerning was one of the quotes provided by CFER that stated, “Critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.”
The quote is from Critical Race Theory: An Introduction (Third Edition) by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, according to the press release. The SDUT did not respond to CFER after they provided “line-by-line sources to corroborate” their claims in the advertisement.
I contacted the SDUT to find out why they rejected the ad and also did not follow up with CFER after they provided what was asked of them.
“The headline in the ad was ‘PUSD is teaching critical race theory.’ The school district’s associate superintendent was already on record as saying, ‘Poway Unified is not teaching critical race theory,” Jeff Light, publisher and editor in chief of The San Diego Union-Tribune told me in an email. “So our ad standards group asked for the basis for this and other claims in the ad.”
“The advertiser needs to present evidence for claims presented as fact,” Light said.
Light also told me how the SDUT makes their decision on advertisements.
“The ad standards group in LA is pretty rigorous, so, yes, they are poring over the ads as they come in from the managers,” Light said. “They follow a 20,000-word handbook.”
Light provided me four important details that they adhere to.
“The company will never knowingly publish advertising that in its judgement is: misleading, fraudulent, or unfair; indecent or offensive, or which contains text or illustrations in poor taste; libelous, abusive or contains attacks of a personal, racial or religious nature; in violation of local, state or federal laws.”
Yet, according to CFER, this information was provided to SDUT in an email showing the attributions for each of their claims. When I brought this to Light’s attention, he said their email must not have met their standards. Furthermore, when I asked Light what violation CFER was guilty of, he responded that “we concluded the ad was misleading.”
I asked Light if he could tell me why the follow up from CFER providing the basis for their claims was insufficient but did not receive a reply. I also asked that why the associate superintendent’s statement was treated as fact and not given the same scrutiny of CFER’s claim but did not receive an answer to this question. I also asked how could the SDUT determine if the associate superintendent was lying or not, but I did not receive a response to this question.
Additionally, I asked who determine what is truthful or fact and how is that done so but also did not receive a reply to this question. Moreover, I asked that if CFER had changed the wording of their ad to “it is our belief, opinion, etc., that the school district is teaching CRT” would that have been sufficient but did not receive an answer to that question.
“A reputable regional news platform is supposed to provide impartial media coverage. Instead, the San Diego Union-Tribune excessively scrutinized our submission of a voter education ad,” Wenyuan Wu, Executive Director of CFER told me. “Perhaps they don’t want parents and community members to be educated or informed on the pervasiveness of a race-centric ideology in Poway schools.”
These allegations should cause alarm. It would fit the profile of the leftist agenda in trying to force CRT on the population and indoctrinate people into believing its lies are true. The fact that there is an alleged attempt to subliminally silent the voices of those against CRT speaks volumes of the depths to which supporters of CRT will sink to get their message out. Furthermore, SDUT should immediately be asked if they extend the same verification process to people and groups that support CRT. If CFER is required to verify their facts in an advertisement, safe to say, so should anyone making claims in any advertisement. Yet, looking at multiple issues of the SDUT, there does not appear to be attribution supporting claims made in advertisements.
Despite the alleged censorship, CFER has not lost any enthusiasm in their quest to bring awareness to the venomous propaganda in CRT.
“CFER is undeterred by SDUT’s censure,” the press release said. “As we forge ahead in this genuine movement for unity against the invasion of CRT, we continue to broaden our alliance and will work with partners such as Reform California to present to the public an informative event on November 18!”
“If they think ‘cancel culture’ works to silence dissent in this day and age, they are misinformed,” Wu said.
About the author: Christopher Tremoglie is a recent graduate from the University of Pennsylvania and from Philadelphia. He graduated cum laude with majors in political science and Russian and East European studies and has written for the National Review, the Federalist, Broad + Liberty, and the Washington Examiner.