Staff Reporter 

It can be scary who gets fooled these days

Write to the Point


February 8, 2018

Did you know by paying $46,000 a year and change to attend New York University — sans books, room and board of course which bumps the bite to over $63K — it apparently gives some at least the partial ability to see the future?

There are no guarantees you’ll get to know stock prices early, or see the Powerball numbers in advance, and earning that NYU degree will not guarantee a job that will easily help you pay off the loans it took to earn that knowledge.

What brings about this discussion was a recent video that, depending on point of view — or if you were a parent who saw your kid featured — either made you bend over in laughter, or get sick to your stomach.

And no, there were no clips from Florida beaches and last spring break.

On Tuesday, Jan. 23, a camera from the group Campus Reform poked around the NYU campus near Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, asking how students perceived President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union speech.

As most of us know, the president’s address actually took place a week later on Jan. 30 and has been thoroughly panned by fans and foes alike.

But somehow, certain students were able to comment on something they believed to be true but had not yet happened. Maybe there is more than just music parsing through ear buds as college students drone along, crossing streets full of traffic without a glance?

Listening to the 2-minute, 43-second clip, found at, the piece’s author, Cabot Phillips, prefaced the interviews with a baited hook. Once told that the speech was perceived as “The most racist State of the Union that’s ever happened,” the subjects naturally bit like a large-mouth bass.

The first person, a female, said “I didn’t watch it because I couldn’t bring myself to watch it.” A second female was quick to concur with Phillip’s preface, responding, ”Quite racist, at the very least if not up there with most racist.”

“It’s something that I wouldn’t have expected to happen in, like, our lifetime,” the third female said. A fourth female followed along with the drumbeat. “It is offensive, it, it is crazy, but I’m not shocked by it,” she said.

One of the few male interviewee’s said ”The way he acts, you shouldn’t be acting like that if you’re the leader of the country, regardless of what party you’re in. So that — that frustrates me a lot.”

Mind you, Campus Reform espouses its views right up front on the home page of its website where visitors learn the group is described as, “An American conservative news website focused on higher education.”

No old-fashioned “60 Minutes” gotcha’ from a hidden camera, nor Phillips doing his best Alan Funt with a “Smile, you’re on ‘Candid Camera,” however.

This is not picking on NYU either. Earlier, CR had a bunch of fun with students at Georgetown University in suburban Washington, D.C.

Here students paid $50,547 this past school year to become experts on any number of things, including commenting back in October 2017 on what they thought, or not, about Trump’s tax plan.

“Initially, students were turned off by the president’s tax plan simply because it had his name on it,” wrote Brian Saavedra of the about another Cabot person-on-the-street interview.

One student said, “It’s better for the upper class than anyone else,” with another adding, “It’s probably not the most efficient nor beneficial to the general populace.”

The twist here was when Phillips —with his fingers crossed and telling a “little white lie” — told them the plan was really authored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Independent and self-avowed socialist from Vermont.

Now the plan was described as “important,” “positive,” “a good idea” and “beneficial for the country.”

But like that scary movie with a half-dozen plot twists, this pack of Hoyas were informed the tax plan they alternately hated and then loved, actually belonged to Trump.

What does this all say?

Plenty, but a 2016 report from National Public Radio on a study out of Stanford University seemed to sum it up well.

Researchers found that “Students from middle school to college struggled to distinguish ads from articles, neutral sources from biased ones and fake accounts from real ones.” It concluded that the results were “dismaying,” “bleak” and “[a] threat to democracy.”

“If the children are the future, the future might be very ill-informed,” the NPR article said.

And who is deemed the most-scary and threatening to the future these days?

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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