LA Times continues to publish David Horowitz despite his history of misinformationJanuary 24, 2006 5:42 PM EST ››› SIMON MALOY
On January 22, the Los Angeles Times printed an op-ed by right-wing pundit David Horowitz, who claimed that "a student's right to an intellectually honest, intellectually diverse education [is] in jeopardy because of professors -- particularly from the left -- who were determined to indoctrinate students with their own political opinions." The Times allowed him space on its opinion page as an expert on the topic of "academic freedom" despite his extensive record of false statements and unsupported allegations on this very topic. Horowitz's January 22 op-ed marked the 29th time Horowitz has been published in the Los Angeles Times since 1990, according to a Nexis search.
Horowitz is the president of Students for Academic Freedom (SAF), an organization whose purported goal is "to end the political abuse of the university and to restore integrity to the academic mission as a disinterested pursuit of knowledge." Horowitz often touted as an example of "anti-conservative" bias on campus the unsupported story of a University of Northern Colorado (UNC) student who, when asked on a midterm essay exam to explain "why President Bush was a war criminal," allegedly received a failing grade for answering instead why Saddam Hussein was a war criminal. Horowitz hyped the UNC story despite a lack of verifiable evidence in support of it, and his own admission that the facts he reported were "wrong." Media Matters for America documented Horowitz's many positions on the story: He initially hyped the alleged incident; then issued a correction acknowledging that "the information we reported appears to have been wrong"; then "corrected" the correction and declared "we were right"; and then revisited the controversy after proclaiming his indifference to it. Horowitz repeatedly accused Media Matters of "slander" and of "lying" for pointing out the factual holes in his arguments. The UNC incident is still listed as one of the "Bias Incidents and Free Speech Violations on Campus" on the SAF website.
Horowitz also publicized dubious allegations of political bias at Foothill College (California) by student Ahmad al-Qloushi, who claimed he received a failing grade on a term paper about the Constitution because his paper was "pro-American." Al-Qloushi's professor disputed al-Qloushi's and Horowitz's allegations, claiming: "When I read the paper, it became clear to me that it did not respond to the question" the students were assigned to address in the paper. Similarly, conservative blogger and political science professor James Joyner described al-Qloushi's work as "an incredibly poorly written, error-ridden, pabulum-filled [sic], essay that essentially ignores the question put forth by the instructor." Another conservative blogger, political science professor Steven Taylor, concluded: "I can see how this essay resulted in a failing grade."
More recently, according to a January 11 article on InsideHigherEd.com, Horowitz "admitted that he had no evidence to back up two of the stories he has told multiple times to back up his charges that political bias is rampant in higher education." According to the article, the purported incidents dealt with a biology professor who reportedly screened filmmaker Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 during class, and "a student in California who supports abortion rights and who said that he was punished with a low grade by a professor who opposed abortion." On his FrontPageMag.com blog, Horowitz labeled the article an "[a]cademic hit job."
Other examples of Horowitz's misinformation abound:
- Falsely claiming that the Senate Intelligence Committee "exonerated" President Bush's claim in the 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq sought uranium from Niger. After Media Matters documented and corrected this false claim, Horowitz attacked Media Matters with yet another falsehood.
- Citing a reader comment posted on the Media Matters website to falsely accuse Media Matters of labeling entertainer Bill Cosby a "racist."
- Labeling a wide variety of people and organizations as "racist," despite his own racially insensitive rhetoric and his acknowledgement that "[b]ecause the term 'racist' has the power [to] wound and to kill, it should be used cautiously."