PBS 'Reporter': College Presidents Should be Liberal Advocates

According to the note at the bottom of his column, "John Merrow . . . reports on education for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS." [Emphasis added]

"Reports"? Then what was Merrow [pictured right] doing writing an op-ed opinion column distributed nationally by the Christian Science Monitor?

And what was the gist of Merrow's opinion piece, entitled "We need the voices of America's college presidents?" That America's college presidents aren't spending enough time being advocates for liberal causes.

Oh, to be sure, Merrow didn't quite put it in those terms. But it didn't take much reading between the lines to understand what kind of advocacy Merrow had in mind.

What one issue did he specifically identify? Intelligent design. He praised Cornell's Hunter Rawlings III and two other college presidents for speaking out "against treating intelligent design as science," lamenting the "overwhelming silence" among other college presidents on the issue.

Merrow also described as "an act of certain courage" the letter that the Chancellor of the University of Kansas for wrote in opposition to intelligent design.

"Act of courage"? Really? At the University of Kansas? The place where the head of Religious Studies Department was someone who openly mocked people of faith and claimed that in his 15 years in the department he was unaware of any religious believers on the faculty? Sounds as if the good Chancellor was in fact preaching to the choir, if he'll pardon the expression.

If there was truly an act of courage, it was that of Harvard President Larry Summers, who bucked the overwhelming feminist tide that dominates academia to suggest that there might exist some sex-based differences in intelligence and was met with a firestorm of criticism from outraged liberals.

So, did Merrow praise Summers' true courage? Hardly. To the contrary, he cited Summers in support of his notion that the only time today's college presidents get noticed "is if they say something outrageous" or commit acts of misfeasance.

This is the Merrow standard, then: liberal advocacy = act of courage. Anti-PC speech = outrageousness.

Merrow is certainly entitled to his opinion. But [as if they had any real doubts] PBS viewers should be aware of where Merrow is coming from the next time the network airs a piece by this "reporter."

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.