As the Modern Language Association gears up for its annual meeting this week, it is facing considerable scrutiny over a session on the push to boycott Israeli universities. Now the association is being criticized for refusing to grant a press pass to The Daily Caller, a conservative website that wanted to attend the meeting in part because of the boycott controversy. The Daily Caller published an article on the rejection, repeatedly calling the MLA "fascist" (and many other things). Further, the article questioned how the MLA could reject The Daily Caller when it has in the past granted press credentials to "pro-fascist" journalists, and the article used as its lead example Scott McLemee, a columnist for Inside Higher Ed, who has in fact attended the MLA in the past. The article was by Eric Owens, education editor of The Daily Caller.
The article complained that the MLA had not given a reason for rejecting Owens. Via email to Inside Higher Ed, Rosemary Feal, executive director of the MLA, explained the rejection this way: "The MLA provides media credentials to qualified reporters who are employees of or freelancers on assignment to locally or nationally recognized print or broadcast media outlets with a demonstrated history of reporting on academic issues. Based on that policy, we have accredited a range of media outlets with a history of serious reporting on academic issues, including several that have been critical of the MLA. In keeping with that policy we reviewed the archive of Eric Owens, the reporter who requested credentials for the MLA convention from the Daily Caller, but determined that his reporting was not of a caliber that merited free admission to the MLA convention."