By Rebecca Burton
An editorial on John Miller’s blog, a former Ryerson journalism chair, has escalated into a fight between him and Ezra Levant, Sun News Network host.
Now the network is labelling Ryerson as an enforcer of “left-wing political views.”
The personal blog post first appeared on Dec. 30, 2011 wherein Miller described Levant’s Muskoka retreat as a group of ideological warriors set to spread terror on the land — not unlike the Toronto 18. The retreat invites viewers to spend a few days up north with Sun personalities to discuss ideas and attend conferences, for a fee.
Levant lashed back on his show, The Source, by discrediting Miller’s credentials as a journalist and asking, “how many minds did he poison this way?”
Levant went on to host another segment entitled “Young Brains in Chains,” where he invited two former Ryerson journalism students, to push the idea that Ryerson limits student thought and forces their own ideals down their throats.
“I saw a tweet from Ezra about what Miller had said about him. I thought the comparison was underhanded and cheap,” said Derek Kreindler, one of the former students, said about appearing on-air.
Kreindler said Ryerson does have a predominant political view, but added that the only problem he had was with the “Critical Issues in Journalism” course as it told them to report on certain communities with an eye on empathy.
“The journalism professors are really good,” said Kreindler. “They didn’t push it down our throats.”
For Kreindler, the political ideals and censoring stemmed more from his elective classes.
Levant said, “the issue is certainly not isolated to Ryerson,” but they chose to focus on the school because of Miller’s “bizarre outburst.”
Miller, who acted as chair of the journalism school from 1986 to 1996, has since left Ryerson to continue his work as a consultant, writer and expert witness. Levant still referred to him as the “father figure of the school,” saying the general culture at Ryerson matches Miller’s ideas.
“It was very unclear to me what exactly was supposed to be so wrong with the journalism school or the university,” said current journalism chair Ivor Shapiro. “It was mostly innuendo, and vague references to something or other.”
The show used articles from the Ryerson Free Press, handpicked by the former students, highlighting an anti-Israel stance to emphasis their political point. Kreindler said he was unable to correct Levant’s focus on only one of three campus papers.
Miller posted a web response on Feb. 14 stating that the connection between Levant and the Toronto 18 was never intended as a literal comparison but rather a “virtual one.”
Levant said he has not read this response. “I invite any student that is willing to say that Ryerson is unbiased to come on my show,” said Levant who isn’t backing down.
“He used the word Ryerson a lot. He was trying to get the students on the show to say that the journalism school was filled with left wing bias, but they didn’t say that,” said Shapiro.