Phi Beta Cons

Politics & Policy

The Chronicle Displays its Low Standards

The Chronicle of Higher Education is predictably slanted. That is the case with a recent piece about the Pope Center, which was filled with comments from people who don’t bother reading much of what we publish but who have an ideological ax to grind. They don’t think that’s necessary because they just know we’re up to bad stuff because a) we’re largely funded by the evil, right-wing Pope Foundation and b) are staffed by people who aren’t leftists and therefore must be enemies of all that’s right and good.

Writing on the John Locke Foundation’s blog, our Harry Painter gives the piece a good going over. I would just like to add my view that it’s really lazy journalism to quote ideological enemies such as Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch, who opines that we have malevolent intentions. I have only met him once, very briefly, and would not claim to have any insight into his intentions. I believe that most of the NC Policy Watch agenda is counter-productive, but wouldn’t say that Fitzsimon or his organization has malevolent intentions. And yet, based on his vague impressions of what the Pope Center would like to see changed in higher education, Fitzsimon says that we’re malevolent. My objection is not so much to his eagerness to attack our motives as that The Chronicle regarded his opinion as worth publishing.

Same for former UNC chancellor James Moeser, who puts us in league with legislators who “don’t even like universities.” We do like universities, just not the way they’ve drifted for the last several decades. I understand that Moeser can play Bach with great nuance, but when it comes to tossing around opinions about an organization that has often disagreed with him, good bye to nuance.

You’d never know it from this piece, but the Pope Center often finds common ground with liberal critics of the high cost and low standards that now exemplify much of American higher education. That could make for an interesting story, if anyone at The Chronicle wanted to pursue it.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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