The Los Angeles Times recently ran an article claiming that PragerU indoctrinates conservatives. Though the Times does a decent job painting an accurate picture of Dennis Prager and PragerU, the author thought he needed to question PragerU’s credibility as well.
Initially, the Times correctly states that PragerU videos have been watched over 2 billion times, that it’s videos are “becoming a staple on college campuses” and that PragerU is filling a need “especially for conservative young people on largely liberal campuses.”
Yet, the article soon shifts to poorly crafted arguments in an attempt to undermine the reliability of PragerU. First, the Times states as fact that PragerU indoctrinates its audience. “The concise videos PragerU launches onto the internet every week to indoctrinate and motivate conservatives have been watched more than 2 billion times.” The article then goes on to attempt to substantiate the claim.
First, the article suggests that PragerU’s videos are not fact-based. “As with Trump, PragerU’s critics say it is sometimes selective with facts. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) warns that several PragerU videos… ‘function as dog whistles to the extreme right.’ The Weather Channel branded PragerU’s challenges to global warming ‘a course in climate misinformation.’ And after watching a few PragerU videos, Princeton University historian Kevin Kruse tweeted that they were ‘utterly wrong on the facts.’”
Unsurprisingly, this criticism of PragerU is devoid of facts. It is based on a logical fallacy called an appeal to authority (which occurs when an argument is said to be true solely because an authority says so). The Times suggests that PragerU is loose with the facts simply because certain important organizations and people believe it is. Rather than dealing with PragerU’s videos on a case-by-case basis, the article cites left-leaning organizations to hit PragerU. The Times should dig into their claims rather than repeat what certain left-leaning organizations and people say.
It is quite comical that the Times chose to cite the SPLC which is a liberal organization that has designated the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) as a hate group simply because it upholds traditional Christian teachings on marriage and abortion. It has also “named PragerU on its ‘Hatewatch’ blog. Subsequently, Twitter and Spotify won’t allow PragerU to advertise on their platforms” potentially in part because of the “Hatewatch” designation. The SPLC is hardly an unbiased resource to help evaluate PragerU’s claims.
Second, the Times attempts to criticize PragerU as an alt-right organization. This is a laughable claim considering that its founder, Dennis Prager, is Jewish. This is seemingly another iteration of the continued attempts to label conservatives like Ben Shapiro and Mark Levin as a part of the alt-right simply because they aren’t liberals.
Third, if the Times really wanted to examine the supposed indoctrination by large media organizations, they should investigate The Young Turks, Al Jazeera, Now This News, Vice, and BuzzFeed Video. All five of those organizations are Leftist in their ideology, and all five receive millions more views than PragerU does. For example, BuzzFeed Video has an audience of 30 million compared to PragerU’s audience of 5.5 million people.
Lastly, it’s important to note that PragerU alleges that it is being censored by large tech companies. Lawyers for PragerU appeared in court today in front of a Ninth Circuit panel to argue that Google is discriminating against them because it is a conservative organization. Their complaint stated, “PragerU brings this lawsuit to stop Google/YouTube from unlawfully censoring its educational videos and discriminating against its right to freedom of speech solely because of PragerU’s political identity and viewpoint.” It will be interesting to see how this case plays out.
While it’s possible not every claim that PragerU makes is true, they provide high-quality, fact-based videos from prominent thinkers including Walter Williams, Jim DeMint, Jordan Peterson, Eric Metaxas, Larry Elder, Arthur Brooks and Victor Davis Hanson. In a sea of leftist organizations, professors and universities PragerU does wonderful work keeping conservative students afloat. As a former college student, I am extremely thankful for their great, quality content.