Lauer for the Defense: Matt Asks Colorado Teacher "Were You Set Up?"

Turns out the real culprit in the Colorado kerfuffle over the teacher who compared Pres. Bush to Hitler is . . . the student who complained about it. Just ask Matt Lauer.

Interviewing teacher Jay Bennish this morning, Lauer laid out this sympathetic scenario:

Lauer: "The family here, the student's family, didn't go to the school board with this tape."

Bennish: "They never contacted me."

Lauer: "They shopped it around to conservative media outlets and finally released it to one and created an uproar. On the tape you can hear Sean Allen [the student in question] asking you questions that seem to be egging you on a little bit. Do you feel you were set up?" (More of the transcript here with thanks to Geoffrey Dickens.)

Wait a second, Matt. Isn't the essence of the teacher's defense that he was trying to provoke discussion of these issues? Didn't you just hear him say that "my job as a teacher is to challenge students to think critically," that he was trying to "encourage critical thought" and that students would "get extra credit regardless of their viewpoints"?

But when a student does just that, he is "setting the teacher up"?

Think Lauer would have floated the same "set up" theory if, say, a Muslim student had recorded a teacher propagating the notion that Islam is an inherently violent religion?

And speaking of "shopping" a story, Matt, didn't Bennish shop his exclusive to a "liberal media outlet" - the Today show?

Finkelstein lives in Ithaca, NY. 'Right Angle', the TV show he hosts, was recently named 'Best of the Best' among public-access shows in his area. Contact him at: mark@gunhill.net

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.