Alum’s position as Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief sparks controversy

Danielle Spitz

When President-elect Donald Trump named Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen Bannon his senior counselor and chief West Wing strategist, news surrounding the right-wing publication, which many critics consider to be a hate site, increased.

After the announcement, The New York Times published an article quoting Alexander Marlow ’04, who now serves as the website’s Editor-in-Chief .

Head of External Relations Ed Hu shared the article on Facebook, and alumni commented on the post disputing whether the school should have called attention to the alum’s role at the publication as an accomplishment.

Hu responded to comments saying he was not congratulating Marlow, but was simply acknowledging his part in the article.

“I expected some vocal reaction given the controversial nature of Breitbart, but not the volume of discussion that has occurred,” Hu said. “I am grateful that the conversation in the alumni community in the thread has been respectful and thoughtful, representing civil discourse which was sorely missing during the recent election season.”

On his personal Facebook and Twitter accounts, Marlow has expressed that he is against gay marriage, does not believe in anthropomorphic climate change and supported Trump for president.

“So much of the media mocked us, laughed at us, called us all sorts of names,” Marlow said in The New York Times article. “And then for us to be seen as integral to the election of a president, despite all of that hatred, is something that we certainly enjoy, and savor.”

History teacher Nini Halkett, who had Marlow as a student and wrote a college recommendation letter for him, said that Marlow showed interest in political discussion in class as a high school student and often voiced his opinion.

“Although I did not necessarily anticipate that he would choose a career in politics, I am not surprised at all,” Halkett said in an email. “I remember him as being one of the most active participants in class. He was also an excellent student – smart, responsible and engaged.”

History teacher Dave Waterhouse knew Marlow as his son’s friend and basketball and baseball teammate. He said he was extremely polite and friendly, remembering when Marlow was the only one of his son’s teammates to visit him in the hospital when he broke his arm.

“I would never have imagined that he would get involved with an organization as deplorable as Breitbart News,” Waterhouse said in an email.

Halkett said she encourages political discussion in class because she believes it is crucial to have an informed electorate in a democracy.

“I think to understand the present you have to look at the past,” Halkett said. “I would hope that coming out of our history classes students would have an understanding of the major issues that have shaped American politics, that they would have opinions based on evidence and that they would know the difference between fact and opinion.”

To discuss current partisan politics, Waterhouse said he tries to deal with political issues as neutrally and academically as he can.

“I want a classroom where people feel free to say what they think, and I want students to try to understand various opinions, regardless of whether I or they agree with them,” Waterhouse said.

Marlow did not respond to The Chronicle’s request for a comment.