With Breitbart—who started his blogging career at the political gossip site DrudgeReport—announcing in April that he would “go after the teachers” as his next mission for the Big Government website, more colleges and universities soon might be reviewing dozens or hundreds of hours of recorded lectures.
In the meantime, experts said, professors and instructors should be wary of the viral nature of online videos.
“For better and sometimes for worse, in the social media age professors have to assume that whatever they say in class may be broadcast to the world. You can’t get that genie back in the bottle,” said David Halperin, senior vice president of the left-leaning group Campus Progress. “But people who selectively edit audio or video to distort the meaning of comments need to be held accountable for the disservice they do to public debate and for the careers they damage.”
Halperin said campus officials should exercise restraint before taking action against a lecturer who is recorded saying something inflammatory in the classroom.
“Schools should act promptly to find the relevant facts and listen carefully to the accused professor’s side of the story before taking any action,” he said.
Breitbart has made headlines in recent years for his use of heavily edited videos. A U.S. Agriculture Department employee was fired last year after Breitbart posted web video showing the woman, Shirley Sherrod, making what appeared to be racist comments.
The full video, however, showed that Sherrod was relaying a story of racial healing during her time with the Agricultural Department.