Op-Ed: PragerU, Conservative Media Outlets Fuel Disinformation


Dennis Prager, the founder of Prager University, speaks at Turning Point USA, a right-wing advocacy organization. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Kolja Westhues, Journalist

When looking at today’s political landscape, it is clear how ideology is spread—and it is well known that misinformation is heavily circulated in online news and political discourse.

However, misinformation is not easy to distinguish, especially when information is presented in a highly produced format and is forced onto people through paid advertising on well-known websites, such as Youtube.

This is especially clear with the American-based media organization PragerU. 

PragerU is the culmination of this disinformation in American schooling, pro-capitalist rhetoric pushed by billionaires, the online right-wing radicalization of minors, and the propaganda machine of the right.”

Because the name of the organization is Prager University, one might think that it is a university or even an academic source in general. It is not—PragerU is a far-right propaganda machine forced onto the public through advertising, and portrayed through the lens of an academic institution trying to spread the truth.

The media produced by PragerU is hyper-conservative and anti-progressive, conveyed by popular figures such as Dennis Prager, Ben Shapiro, Candace Owens, Charlie Kirk, and many other far-right political commentators. The organization is funded by fracking billionaires who want disinformation spread so that their economic empires cannot be challenged by the public. 

The major problem with PragerU is that it presents itself as a non-biased academic source, with Ohio students receiving extra credit for watching the media company’s videos.

This is incredibly worrisome, as PragerU has a history of presented biased perspectives about different historical scenarios. 

In a deleted video which defends Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s legacy, PragerU even has the disgusting audacity to celebrate how he squashed a major slave uprising.

Repulsive videos like this from PragerU reach one-out-of three Americans, 70 percent of who report that content changed their mind, according to The Gravel Institute, a progressive think tank that fights against misinformation for rightwing media sites. according to a video by The Gravel Institute.

The alt-right pipeline is incredibly dangerous—it starts when you might watch an innocent gaming video, and then Youtube starts recommending videos that might be titled something like “Feminists Get Owned Compilation #45.” 

Then one might get recommended Ben Shapiro videos, as well as “edgy” and offensive-humored commentary channels. 

This ends in more children being radicalized to the far-right. Although this often happens independent of what children learn in school, in some parts of America, these propaganda-filled “history” videos are sometimes even assigned by teachers.

This is also a problem that goes deeper than PragerU: education on certain historical events vary throughout the country. In some states, schools refuse to acknowledge slavery as the overriding factor of the Civil War. Instead, students are taught that the north engaged in a “war of aggression” on state autonomy, encouraging young minds to sympathize with the Lost Cause.

PragerU is the culmination of disinformation and misinformation in much of American schooling. It’s time to fight back against indoctrination by calling out teachers who promote the credibility of sites like PragerU. Parents also need to get involved by encouraging children to consume news from other outlets. I also encourage people to create their own videos, combatting the lies and distortions found in PragerU’s content. For other ideas, check out this video, narrated by H. Jon Benjamin of Fox’s Bob’s Burgers and Archer