Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Student Press Bias at Long Beach City College

I don't normally comment on campus politics, but my college's student newspaper's published a wildly innacurate article on an Iraq war panel discussion in which I participated.

The article, "
Panelists discuss Iraq in town hall meeting," badly misrepresents my statements at the college forum. Indeed, the piece is a poorly veiled, miserable attempt to impugn my debate performance and my reputation as an informed commentator on the war.

Here's the piece, in full:

About 15 students gathered and listened as a panel of four men sat behind a folding table in LAC's dimly lit Nordic Lounge and discussed the widely debated issue of Democracy in Iraq Monday, Nov. 7.

The panel, chosen by the Political Science Club, included two liberals, LBCC history professor Dr. Julian DelGaudio and political analyst Peter Mathews, and two conservatives, LBCC political science professor Dr. Donald Douglas and republican activist Ed Williams.

Panel members spent an hour answering 9 questions, conceived by political science students, that focused on the United States' decision to invade Iraq, issues present in Iraq, and the future of Iraq.

"The invasion of Iraq is illegitimate," said Dr. DelGaudio. The history professor was quick to respond to Dr. Douglas' support of the U.S. invasion. Douglas said that the invasion was justified because Saddam Hussein was violating a United Nations truce from the Gulf War. DelGaudio continued calmly, "This was actually done in opposition to the U.N. which never voted for an actual invasion of Iraq. In fact, I recall the Secretary General of the U.N. at the time saying that this was an illegal war."

The panelists then discussed Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, or the lack thereof, and the effect that this issue had on inspiring pro-invasion sentiment amongst Americans.

"We in this country talk about our soldiers that we've lost in this war, but they don't amount to one week of the death squads of Saddam Hussein," Williams said as he hunched over the table to get closer to the microphone, his volume and tone indicating angry excitement.

"No weapons of mass destruction? You ask a Kurd and they'll tell you yes, there were weapons of mass destruction used against us," Williams continued, pounding his index finger on the table. "Why aren't we talking about that, do the Kurds not matter because they are desert people?"

As the debate moved on, three of the four men openly agreed that President Bush is, in the words of DelGaudio, "a pathological liar". Douglas was the only one who didn't comment on the statement, though he said nothing to argue it.

Congressional hopeful Mathews criticized President Bush's policy on Iraq by saying, "You cannot go into Iraq with guns blazing and impose or build democracy from the outside."

Mathews, a progressive Democrat, will make his eighth bid for congressional representative of the 37th district in June, 2008. The first seven have been unsuccessful. He concluded, "Mr. Bush had this idea in his mind that he could help build democracy in his own way, but a lot of the approaches he has used have been vacant."

Dr. Douglas, who, according to his website enjoys reading works of international intrigue, had a differing perspective, "Democracy in Iraq is beginning to take hold, they've got elections, they're making political progress, they're establishing their oil resources and rebuilding industries, peace is returning to the cities," he said. "In fact they're trying to open restaurants and bars, which will be terrific."

However, when the audience asked him about the Iraqi constitution being contradictory to the premise of establishing democracy he said, "It's not going to take months or years, it's going to take decades to really establish democracy."

He also said that he is not yet familiar enough with the Iraqi constitution to give a hard and fast answer on the subject.

Article 2A in the Iraqi constitution states, "No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established."

The panel did unanimously conclude that even if congress votes to withdraw America from Iraq, our soldiers will be there for years to come.

"The United States is going to be staying in Iraq for some time," said Douglas. "Freedom is not free."
Sadly, this is essentially a commentary piece purportedly offered as "objective" student journalism. One wouldn't know this from the story, but with all due respect, Professor Del Gaudio, a colleague in my department, is a hardline Marxist historian who's an advisor to my college's "campus progressive" club, a front-group for the local International ANSWER chapter. I vehemently disagree with his antiwar positions, and I robustly defended the Bush administration and the war at the forum.

During the panel, Professor Del Gaudio denounced the war in Iraq as a disaster, conducted in violation of international law, and launched on the basis of lies put forward by the administration. I rebutted his arguments - succinctly and point-by-point - noting that the war was in fact waged to force Saddam Hussein's compliance with the 1991 U.N.-imposed Gulf War truce and subsequent resolutions for complete Iraqi disarment. Indeed, the U.S. and British invasion was launched to uphold the very resolutions the U.N. Security Council itself refused to enforce.

I noted, further, that the U.S. was now winning in Iraq, but that no measure of success on the ground would satisfy antiwar forces who've worked diligently to weaken public support for the deployment.

The audience member's question about the "Iraqi constitution being contradictory to the premise of establishing democracy" came after about 40 minutes of debate in which I laid down a barrage in indicators countering decisively every point of the left wing panelists. Naturally I don't claim to be an expert on the Iraqi constitution, though I noted that Iraq's governing regime contains parliamentary safeguards for proportional representation and poltical equality. The student reporter's game here is to whitewash the disastrous performance by Professor Del Gaudio and Peter Mathews. My statements were taken completely out of context, and the whole article demonstrates a clear leftwing, antiwar bias.

Especially pathetic is the author's completely irrelevent reference to
my campus webpage, where I mention my personal interests, such as taking "walks on the beach" and "reading works of historical fiction and international intrigue." No other background information of this sort was provided for the other panelists, so perhaps the reporter thought my interest in spy novels might discredit my command of counterinsurgency in Iraq.

In any case, I've had my run-ins with the student paper before. Indeed, my participation on an Iraq panel on March 19, 2003, at the start of the war, began my process of being "radicalized by the radicals." Back then as well, my school's newspaper botched its coverage of my participation at the earlier campus forum, and in subsequent years the LBCC Viking's demonstrated its brand of far-left student journalism, lackadaisical reporting, and absence of journalistic integrity.

I understand these are students learning a craft, but my repeated critical responses to the editors and the faculty advisor have been treated with hostility, and indeed with violations of campus free speech policies.

The current reporting is just another chapter in this sorry history, and what's sad about it, ultimately, is that it's the student journalists who are being poorly served by a lack of professional direction in the standards of responsible press reporting.