Here’s how an obscure California conservative commentator is indoctrinating a new generation of right-wingers
Los Angeles native Larry Elder — a libertarian/conservative firebrand, African-American talk radio host/author and the self-described “Sage from South-Central” — has often cited Dennis Prager as his mentor and described him as a key factor in his career in right-wing media. The “mentor” part is important, as the 70-year-old Prager has set out to be exactly that to younger people on the right. And the Los Angeles’ Times’ Evan Halper, in an in-depth article, describes the ways in which Prager has been indoctrinating right-wingers of the future via his L.A.-based Prager University.
PragerU, as Halper notes in his piece, isn’t literally a university. Rather, it is a collection of short online propaganda videos addressing topics ranging from the economy to multiculturalism to climate change. And the goal is to indoctrinate right-wingers who are 30, 40 or 50 years younger than him.
Bradley Devlin, a leader of the College Republicans at UC Berkeley in the San Francisco Bay Area, told the Los Angeles Times that PragerU is viewed as a learning tool among young conservatives on campus.
“People watch these videos in between classes,” Devlin told the Times. “They watch them on the line at Starbucks. They point out the unsustainability of leftism and intersectionality and the false promises of the left.”
Prager viewed himself as a right-wing “educator” long before he started PragerU in 2009. Elder is now 67, and Prager took him under his wing back in the 1980s (Elder sounds like he’s talking about an older brother when discussing his relationship with Prager). But in the digital age, Halper explains, PragerU has given Prager a chance to reach out to Millennials via social media and let them know when a new video is available.
Halper notes in his piece that PragerU has more than his share of critics, who view many of the videos as wildly misleading. For example, the Weather Channel has described PragerU’s videos on climate change as “a course in climate misinformation” (Prager is a climate change denier despite a mountain of evidence from scientists all over the world showing that climate change is a painful reality).
Another critic is Tara McGowan, chief executive of the nonprofit Acronym — which advises liberals and progressives on digital outreach. McGowan, in Halper’s article, is quoted as saying that PragerU is “a sophisticated campaign to indoctrinate young people. The amount of money they are putting behind it is alarming and significant. They seem to have created a savvy way to push an ideology onto an audience and get a tax break in the process.”