Teen takes on media
ROCKLIN — A 19-year-old from Yuba City who'll graduate from college this month targeted media bias as part of an event Tuesday that drew national broadcasters and 1,500 visitors to a Christian university.
"Can you remember anything positive coming from the media about the Iraq War?" asked Colby Ackenheil. "I can't."
His senior seminar presentation at William Jessup University in Rocklin came before talk-radio hosts Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved and Dennis Prager spoke at an evening panel about the first 100 days of President Barack Obama's term. The events were featured during the university's annual Public Policy Day.
News coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign was part of the presentation by Ackenheil, who attended Faith Christian School in Yuba City and was homeschooled by his parents Ruel and Elizabeth.
Ackenheil said 200 stories he read in The New York Times about Obama were positive or neutral while the same number of stories about Republican candidate John McCain were negative. Ackenheil also cited Newsweek magazine deciding in 1998 against publishing a story about Monica Lewinsky's relationship with then-President Bill Clinton — an account that later appeared on the Drudge Report.
"Are they trying to make a political movement?" Ackehneil asked of the national media.
Appearances by the broadcasters, whose programs are carried by KTKZ AM 1380 in Sacramento, were part of a national tour.
Broadcaster and law professor Hewitt, who spoke during a luncheon, covered topics that included the November ballot measure passed by California voters to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
"I have never seen anything like this," he said of Proposition 8. "I have never seen Americans so at each others' throats."
Fringe opponents of the ballot measure targeted the religious, particularly Mormons, after the proposition's passage, Hewitt said — an effort intended to intimidate them during the next political battle over gay marriage in the state, the broadcaster added. State budget-related ballot measures that go before California voters May 19 will lose, he said, a result that will represent "a profound rebuke to the Sacramento power elite."
Moreover, the broadcaster said "there's a big pushback growing" to the attempt to the drive the country to the left politically.
Hewitt also spoke about qualities Christians should possess, including a winning, engaging style.
"If nobody wants to be in a room with you," he added, "you're worthless."
Sosamma Samuel-Burnett, chair of the public policy department at William Jessup, said Ackenheil possesses the qualities cited by Hewitt — and a timely topic in media bias.
The teen, who'll graduate May 16 from William Jessup, credits his parents and participation in plays put on at Faith Christian for his ease in public speaking.
"My family is not afraid to talk," Ackenheil said.
A conservative, he said the politics in the Yuba-Sutter area match his.
Ackenheil is interested in a fellowship program at the state capitol involving working for state Assembly or Senate members, but is also considering a range of other careers, including work in the media.
"I haven't ruled out anything except being an attorney," he said.
Contact Appeal reporter Ryan McCarthy at 749-4707 or firstname.lastname@example.org.