You are herePress Think: Lefty journalism professor tries to discredit the Tea Party by passing along sensational footage to his buddies at the Times!!!
Press Think: Lefty journalism professor tries to discredit the Tea Party by passing along sensational footage to his buddies at the Times!!!
Yesterday I was the target of a “sting” operation by right wing trickster James O’Keefe. I will tell you what happened.
-By Jay Rosen
It started with a request from a staff person at NYU to allow a prospective graduate student named “Lucas” to sit in on my class on October 17. This is something that happens 8-10 times a semester. Students want to know what they can expect if they come to study at NYU. I said yes because I always say yes. The class he wanted to observe is called “Digital Thinking.” That day I had scheduled a guest speaker: my colleague Clay Shirky. The students had read all of Shirky’s major writings about the transformation of journalism in the digital age and they were eager to ask him questions. #
When I got to class, Lucas was already there. I welcomed him, introduced him to the class, and asked my students to be nice to him because he was thinking of coming to study at NYU. About 30 minutes later Clay showed up and we did what college professors do thousands of times a day at universities everywhere. We tell stories with ideas inside them and share how we think. We answer students’ questions and get them to share how they think. We try to complicate their picture of the world and inspire them to inquire further. This is the work of education. And this is what Clay and I did. #
The next day I got a note from “Lucas.” It said: #
Dear Professor Rosen,
Thank you very much for the opportunity to sit in on your class. It was a treat to learn from Clay Shirky. I am leaving town on Friday. I was wondering if we could meet this week to discuss NYU, concentrations and a piece I am working on about Occupy Wall Street. Let me know what days and times work for you. I am pretty flexible.
I met with him two days later in my office. I will tell you what happened there in a moment. #
Six days after that, on Oct. 26, the phone rang in my office. It was James O’Keefe. He said he wanted me to comment on something or other. I said there must be a context to this call, so what’s the context? And he began to read me quotes from the class session with Clay Shirky. It took me a few minutes to recognize that, yes, these were things that were said in class, so he obviously had a recording. Once I realized what he was up to I laughed at the absurdity of it and told him, “James, do whatever you want to do.” #
At first I was confused about how the tape got made. I asked each of my students if he or she had taped the class. They each said no. I believed them. Then one student remembered we had a guest that day and it all fell into place. #