Roger L. Simon

A Tale of Bandwidth and Tuition Fees

I agree with Belmont Club that the Ward Churchill kerfuffle is small beer, to say the least. The spectacle of some desperate nitwit pretending to be an Indian in order to get a job in an Ethnic Studies Department is right out of an Italian comedy of the seventies (Pietro Germi or maybe Lina Wertmuller). The “gulled” gentlemen and ladies in the various academic departments (not to mention the bozos over at “prestigious” Hamilton College) would be marvelous foils for, say, Giancarlo Giannini at his height. Not even the great Gogol himself could make such delicious mockery of boneheaded “political correctness.”

The Eason Jordan Affair is the exact opposite, something far more important than it appears. The Washington Times this morning has an editorial detailing how Jordan has made his disputed (or semi-disputed) allegations more than once about US servicemen deliberately “targeting” journalists, although the numbers have shifted, first ten deaths, now twelve, sort of “grade inflation,” to use a Ward Churchillian analogy.

But kidding aside, there are three possibilities, my dear Watson: 1. Jordan is right. 2. he is delusional. 3. he is lying. 1. is the least likely since we can assume that if Jordan had some proof, he would have long ago produced it. This would have been the scoop of scoops, even capable of getting many a hawk to reconsider his or her stand. No, 2. and 3., separately or in combination (there are myriads), are more likely.

Whatever the case, what does that say about the editorial decisions of CNN for whose judgments he is largely responsible? What does that say about the accuracy of the information we–and the rest of the world–have been receiving? CNN has a prominent position on nearly everyone’s cable and satellite feed. For a great many years it was the sole 24-hour news outlet. Free speech is absolutely necessary to society, but to what extent do they owe us an allegiance to the facts? How do we penalize them when what they present veers toward propaganda (as it did when CNN played footsie with Saddam)?

This has no easy solution. Eugene Volokh, who has far greater knowledge than I in this area, thinks Ward Churchill should not be fired. He’s probably right (although I wouldn’t blame a rump group of parents who paid tens of thousands of dollars in tuition for their children to be “educated” by this clown for taking matters in their own hands), but what about Eason Jordan– in terms of influence a Tyrannosaurus Rex to Churchill’s ant? For now, Jordan seems to be under the protection of his colleagues in and out of CNN. I wonder how long that will last.