Sarah Huckabee Sanders' appearance at Chapman University event draws controversy

YORBA LINDA, Calif. (KABC) -- Controversy lingered as President Donald Trump's former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders spoke at a Chapman University event held in Yorba Linda Wednesday night.

It was the launch of the school's new Center for Freedom of Expression and Media Integrity, a topic critics say Sanders should stay away from.

"This is what we expected, it's what we want," said School of Communications Dean Lisa Sparks. "We want to bring that controversy. We want to bring new ideas, different ideas, controversial ideas to the table."

Sparks pointed out that they also had President Barack Obama's former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on stage. She believes Wednesday's event and the new center will help tackle major issues.

"What is media bias? How do we operationalize media bias? What is media integrity? How do we operationalize media integrity?" she said. "What happens when a story's out there and then it gets retracted. If it's retracted in the same way, does it get the same impact?"

The center's executive director who initially chose the speakers says he stands by his decision.

"Whenever you're having political speakers in this particular climate, you're gonna have controversy," said Executive Director Brian Calle. "And if you're launching a center for free expression, and civil discourse and media integrity, you know, controversy's probably a good thing."

From fake news to media bias, they believe the event is crucial.

"You can't have a truly unbiased media center if you're unwilling to seek the opinion of people who criticize media," Calle said.

"A lot of times students are just engaged in one side of the argument and they're not really exposed to all sides of the argument and that's really really important," said Sparks.
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