Archive for the ‘FAU’ Category

The outlaw editor

Who doesn’t like Pye?

Apparently, Florida Atlantic University doesn’t.

In April, senior Joe Pye was elected editor of FAU’s student newspaper, cleverly called the University Press. He was supposed to start his new job this week. But FAU won’t let him. Why? An administrator says he’s “not tact.”

FAU’s reasons are as weak as its grammar, but we’ll get to that in a moment. First, you need to know three amusing things…

  • Right now, Pye is acting editor. As in, he’s acting as editor. As in, he’s pretending. Pye is listed as editor on the University Press website. He’s running the newsroom, and the staff considers him the boss even if FAU doesn’t.
  • Two lawyers think this is really weird. SPJ has hired one of them to sue FAU.
  • Meanwhile, we’re selling T-shirts. Lawsuits are boring and take time. Shirts are fun and on sale now. Proceeds go to SPJ’s Legal Defense Fund.

Get a piece of Pye.

What journalist can pass up a pun? Buy a shirt here. It won’t solve Pye’s problem, but you’ll look sharp while supporting him.

Pye himself sees the humor in his banishment.


He was unanimously elected by FAU’s Student Media Advisory Board and unanimously won a staff vote. But FAU weirdly gives its Student Government the power to approve the editor who covers Student Government.

News flash! SG leaders torpedoed Pye when they asked him about his goals as editor, and he replied, “Keep watch over all you guys.” An administrator defended SG by saying Joe was “not tact in his responses.” (Check out the sordid details and silly grammar here.)


Administrators reassured Pye he could appeal – to Student Government. Says Pye: “I felt like the only sane person in the room, asking why would I file an appeal to the same people who shot me down.”


Being sane, Pye appealed. It took more than a month to finally (and inevitably) be denied. The wheels of justice grind slowly but exceedingly absurd.


The newspaper’s faculty adviser suggested Pye “have a little more patience” before talking to a lawyer because, “There remains the risk that a legal battle could spur SG to cut all of its funding to the student paper.”

Of course, it’s against the law for a public university to retaliate like that. So FAU is basically urging Pye not to fight for his rights because it might violate even more rights.

Speaking of attorneys…

FAU is the Wild West of conflict of interest.

Frank LoMonte has been a national media attorney for a decade, and he can’t recall another public university that lets Student Government decide who’s the editor.

“Just about every college in America delegates the task of hiring editors to a publications board of knowledgeable stakeholders with independence from the political process,” says LoMonte, who’s executive director of the Student Press Law Center in Washington, DC.

“What’s happening with Joe Pye is the object lesson in why we don’t let government officials decide who can and can’t be in charge of covering them – because they’ll vote against the people who present a threat of covering them aggressively,” LoMonte says. “Student governments should have zero involvement in selecting editors of newspapers, period, end of conversation.”

Alas, it’s not the end of the conversation. But it might be the beginning of a lawsuit.

Frontier justice?

Justin Hemlepp looks too young to be an attorney – he turns 37 on Monday – but he has lots of experience suing Florida universities. And lots of success.

Hemlepp has sued the University of Central Florida three times on behalf of its student newspaper. He’s won each time. Last year, a judge ordered UCF pay his legal fees. UCF appealed, he won again, and he was awarded legal fees again.

SPJ has hired Hemlepp to represent Pye. He’ll submit an official letter to FAU on his birthday, and FAU’s response will determine what happens next. But Hemlepp thinks there’s a solid case.

“I know of no other university where the Student Government gets to choose the journalists that cover it,” Hemlepp says. “The foxes truly are guarding the hen house, and I’m certain Lenin and Kim Jong Un would be proud.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

If Pye isn’t the editor, who is? FAU says it’s Kerri-Marie Covington, the current managing editor.

Except she says it ain’t.

The 20-year-old Covington learned she was the new editor in a group email to the newspaper’s senior staff. FAU originally said its student media rules dictate the managing editor “serves as the Interim EIC until such time as the Student Media Advisory Board shall, by a majority vote, appoint a replacement for the remainder of the term.”

Except if you click the link, it doesn’t say that at all.

Instead, that edict is buried in a separate set of rules FAU never posted online. I had to request those rules, and I’ve posted them here.

Weirdly, these “Student Media Statutes” seem to date back to 2013, although none of the current newspaper staff has ever seen them, and there’s no record of who approved them. There are also many red lines and underlines, indicating changes that aren’t dated.

Making it even more confusing, Covington says, “No one from administration has reached out to me.” She doesn’t know how long she’s interim editor for, because the Student Media Advisory Board has no meetings scheduled.

So she has an announcement of her own…

“As of today, I’m refusing to be the interim editor-in-chief of the FAU University Press.”

Covington adds, “I’m not doing this out of spite. I’m not doing this out of disrespect. But if nothing changes now, it never will.”

At least one member of FAU’s Student Media Advisory Board agrees with her.

This board member is on board.

Dan Sweeney is a state politics reporter at the South Florida Sun Sentinel. From 2011-14, he was the full-time adviser for the University Press.

So when he proclaims “concerns,” he’s speaking as someone who’s worked in both pro and college journalism.

“The prevention of Joe Pye from getting his job as editor in chief violates not just his own constitutional rights, but potentially violates the rights of everyone around him,” says Sweeney, who was appointed to FAU’s Student Media Advisory Board just a few months ago.

Besides the “chilling effect on the free speech of students,” Sweeney says there’s an “educational issue.” It’s worth quoting him at length…

When a governmental entity prevents the editor-in-chief from assuming his duties, it strikes a near-fatal blow to the ability of the newspaper to train professional journalists. In the real world, journalists are by necessity forced into conflict with the subjects they cover – this is especially true in government coverage.

By demonstrating to students that government has such control over journalists, the university is providing budding journalists with exactly the wrong lesson – that they should be cowed before government, avoid conflict, and seek to mollify their critics in the power structure. That is literally the 180-degree opposite lesson these students should be taught.

Get Joe’s back by putting this on yours.

So if you’re amused, confused, and/or outraged by this twisted situation, maybe you’ll buy a shirt. It costs $15, and we’ll donate $3 of that to SPJ’s Legal Defense Fund, which pays attorneys to assist journalists.

(In case you’re wondering, the other $12 goes to the online company making the shirts. In other words, we’re not drinking it.)

If you order a T-shirt today, expect delivery before the end of July. It’s an open question which will arrive first: Your shirt, SPJ’s lawsuit, or FAU’s reinstatement of Joe Pye.

Full disclosure: I’ve advised the FAU student newspaper as a part-timer and volunteer since 1998. Over the years, this isn’t nearly the dumbest thing I’ve seen there. Or the funniest. This might be. Or this.

Finger in the Pye

Can pointing a finger cost you a job?

It did for Joe Pye, a senior at Florida Atlantic University. And now he’s fightin’… amused?

Pye recently ran for editor of FAU’s student newspaper. The staff voted for him 12-0 over his opponent, and the school’s Student Media Advisory Board – consisting of professionals, professors, and students – unanimously chose him.

That was two weeks ago. But he still didn’t have the job.

FAU lets its Student Government “confirm” the editor. Yes, the same Student Government the newspaper investigates.

In the decade since FAU created this silly – and you’ll soon see, illegal – rule, no editor has ever not been confirmed. Until Pye.

What did he do to piss off SG? He “was not tact in his responses to the questions posed by the senate,” says Andrea Oliver, a Student Affairs associate vice president.

Here’s how he was not tact…

It wasn’t even a middle finger.

Tuesday evening, a student senator began the “confirmation hearing” by asking Pye about his plans as editor.

“What do I plan to do?” Pye replied, pointing at them. “Keep watch over all you guys.”

They really didn’t like that.

They also didn’t like his attitude, especially about their suggestion to add a newspaper rack on a satellite campus 25 miles away, which teaches less than 150 of FAU’s 30,000 students.

“Do you want me to put a bin there?” Pye asked. “We don’t have money for that.” He suggested they give him the money, but that went nowhere.

Student senators persisted with questions about this small campus — which one admitted to never visiting. Here’s my favorite question, lifted verbatim from a recording the student newspaper made:

How do you plan on, like, broadening … are there going to be interviews on other campuses … what do you plan on doing to create a better connection between the campuses … you guys are the press.

Joe simply replied, “We have the website. I don’t have any other bins.”

All told, his hearing took less than five minutes. Since none of the questions were about what the newspaper actually reports, Pye’s last words before the vote were, “You should read us sometime.”

He lost 5-2. Now the fun begins.

This man laughed when he heard what happened.

Frank LoMonte is a noted media attorney and executive director of the Student Press Law Center in Washington, DC. He called FAU’s confirmation process “a horrible, horrible mechanism.”

Then he laughed dismissively.

“If this isn’t the only place in America that does this, I’ve never heard of it,” LoMonte says. And he’s been studying college media for nearly a decade.

LoMonte calls FAU’s rule “an invitation to break the law.” Why? Because at a public university, the newspaper can’t be punished for anything to do with its content – that’s the very definition of the First Amendment.

Yet LoMonte says, “When you interview for a job like this, there’s no way to keep content out of the interview.”

What makes LoMonte really laugh is this question: “Where does FAU think it goes from here?”

This is where FAU thinks it goes, according to associate VP Oliver…

The first step is for Joe to file a petition to the student court and request a hearing. He will then have an opportunity to discuss the senate meeting. The student court can uphold or overturn the court’s decision. If the student court upholds the senate’s decision, the student can then file an appeal with the Vice President of Student Affairs. The Vice President of Student Affairs would review the senate hearing meeting minutes, the student court meeting minutes, and the appeal submitted by the student. The Vic President for Student Affairs can uphold or overturn the decision. The decision of the Vice President is final.

…and if you read that without your corneas glazing over, you get a cookie.

Pointing back at FAU.

This afternoon, Pye will discuss his next steps with his staff. Among his amusing options…

  • Meekly go through the laborious appeals process and hope someone recognizes the law when it smacks them in the face.
  • Fiercely go through the appeals process and use every chance to decry and mock it.
  • Call himself the editor, run the paper, and force FAU to do something about it. If FAU holds up his paycheck, sue the school.

What will Pye do? He’s mulling it over. But he doesn’t seem to be leaning toward “meekly.”

“I personally find it ridiculous that Student Government needs to have a say over who is editor of the newspaper,” he says. “If my ‘conduct’ wasn’t to their liking, I hate to see how they’ll react as real politicians getting grilled by real journalists.”

Or how they’ll react to a real lawsuit in front of a real judge.

Full disclosure: I’ve advised the FAU student newspaper as a part-timer and volunteer since 1998. Over the years, this isn’t nearly the dumbest thing I’ve seen. Or the funniest. This might be. Or this.

Rack ’em!


You just can’t top this…

Yesterday, Florida Atlantic University miraculously found a new place for South Florida Gay News to distribute. All it took was the threat of topless women strolling around campus, handing out copies of a gay newspaper.

See yesterday’s post )

FAU had insisted it would take 16 months – until May 2017 – to “renovate” the single metal rack where SFGN offered free copies of its weekly issues. FAU has built parking garages quicker than that.

Now SFGN will have two campus locations: one outside the library, the other outside the student union. After a month of ignoring his efforts at compromise, SFGN editor Jason Parsley says FAU promised him those racks would be installed within the next 2-3 weeks.

“I’m happy we were able to resolve this issue so quickly,” Parsley says. “But in the future, I would advise FAU to respond to people in a timely fashion, in order to avoid a situation like this spiraling out of control.”

Yesterday, FAU’s student newspaper offered to help. Editor Emily Bloch says SFGN can borrow some University Press racks until SFGN’s racks are ready.

Parsley is pleased, and he has no regrets…

This was just one distribution point out of hundreds that we have here at SFGN. I could have just as easily said it wasn’t worth my time. While I’m sure FAU sees this differently, I saw it as First Amendment issue. And it’s important to remember the First Amendment is non-negotiable. Our freedom of speech and the press are two civil rights that nobody can take away.

So all’s well that started stupidly. Alas, tomorrow’s topless distribution protest has been called off.

Too bad, because I was really looking forward to FAU frat boys eagerly accepting newspapers from topless women, only to read them and realize, “Hey, this is gay!”

Michael Koretzky was FAU’s part-time newspaper adviser from 1998 until 2010, when he was fired. The staff asked him to volunteer, which he still does to this day.


Nice rack


Staying abreast of the news…

On Wednesday, topless women will distribute a gay newspaper at a public university in South Florida.

Why? To defend a free press.

South Florida Gay News is the southeast’s largest weekly gay newspaper, but Florida Atlantic University only allows SFGN to distribute in a single spot on campus.

It’s a metal rack FAU built, which sounds generous until you learn the school banned SFGN from having its own racks. The school says it’s trying to “beautify” the campus by getting rid of ugly newspaper boxes.

That’s fine as far as it goes – those things are ugly – but earlier this month, FAU sent this poorly written email to SFGN editor Jason Parsley

The newspaper racks that was assigned for placing the South Florida Gay News publication were removed from the breezeway for renovation project. At this time we do not have an alternate location. Please suspend the delivery of the magazine until further notice.

Parsley inquired, “Do you have a timeframe on when the project will be complete?”

This is the full text of FAU’s reply: “The project is expected to be finished in May of 2017.”

That’s a long time to renovate a metal box. It’s also illegal, as we’ll see in a moment.

Parsley didn’t give up: “Are there other locations on campus where publications display their products?”

FAU didn’t give in: “Unfortunately the breezeway was the only location. I will let you know if we will identify other locations in the meantime.”

Parsley tried again, but FAU is no longer responding. On his own, he learned FAU also booted a couple other free publications. But they don’t cover news – they’re glorified shoppers – and they didn’t object.

So what’s going on here? I have a theory: FAU is banning several small publications to get to SFGN, and it has nothing to do with being gay.


The naked truth…

Two weeks before FAU ousted Parsley’s newspaper, he wrote this column criticizing his alma mater for violating Florida’s open-meetings law. (Parsley was editor of FAU’s student newspaper in 2007.)

Is FAU retaliating against SFGN? If not, this sure is a coincidence. Which isn’t lost on Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center in Washington, DC.

“A public university can’t single out certain disfavored publications based on editorial content and give them inferior distribution locations – or none at all – to penalize or restrain unwanted messages,” LoMonte says.

LoMonte says the law is “murky” about public universities being required to distribute off-campus publications. But…

Once a college in fact has made the decision to allow newsracks on campus walkways, then there must be some reasonable justification for deviating from that policy unrelated to the publication’s content, and the speaker must be provided with some reasonable alternative way of reaching the audience.

If FAU is effectively banning the publication from campus, it would have the burden of showing that the decision is both unrelated to the publication’s content and that no alternative location exists, which would be awfully hard to do.

That’s “awfully hard” because only 16 days separate Parsley’s critical column and FAU’s ungrammatical emails. Plus, two daily newspapers aren’t being booted for renovations. LoMonte calls this “circumstantial evidence of a cause-and-effect” – and he says it’s “quite strong.”

So SFGN could sue FAU. And it might. SFGN’s publisher is an attorney who has gone to court over First Amendment issues before – and won. If a lawsuit happens, SMACK will help him apply to SPJ’s Legal Defense Fund.

But that could take months. We have a better, quicker idea.


How to get the circulation going…

If FAU doesn’t back down, SMACK will take off the gloves – and the tops. On Wednesday, volunteers will walk around campus handing out SFGN’s latest issue.

You can see the cover above. It’s about the Go Topless Movement, which seeks equal treatment under the law: If men can walk around bare-chested, why can’t women?

So it only makes sense that topless women will hand out the paper. Luckily, the forecast is sunny and 74 degrees. (This plan wouldn’t work at the University of Vermont.)

We’ll notify local media, and our volunteers will even hand-deliver copies to the office of FAU President John Kelly.

If campus cops arrest our volunteers, SMACK will throw their bail. And if everyone has a good time, we just might do this for every weekly issue of SFGN.

Or FAU can finally reply to Parsley and come up with a solution that won’t take 16 months. But now that we’ve organized all of this, I kind of hope they don’t.


Michael Koretzky was FAU’s part-time newspaper adviser from 1998 until 2010, when he was fired. The staff asked him to volunteer, which he still does to this day.


Ha! Ha! That’s terrible!


This joke is hilarious…

Q. What do you call a meeting of journalists who want to discuss the journalism in the student newspaper at a public university?

A. Closed to the public.

Welcome to Florida Atlantic University, which is a real funny place. Last semester, FAU appointed a Journalism Task Force of mostly faculty. Their mission: “Improve” the reporting in its student newspaper. But they closed their meetings to the public after I showed up at one.

“Your last visit caused concern for some faculty who felt it was disruptive to have a non-member of the task force at the table,” JTF chairman Neil Santaniello emailed me.

He added…

The Communication Department consulted with FAU General Counsel on whether the JTF meetings were open to the public. The interpretation we received: the task force is a fact-finding body, not a decision-making body. In short: JTF meetings are not public. The school director, David Williams, came to the same conclusion

That’s funny for three reasons…

  1. I sat in the back of the meeting and said nothing unless spoken to. How is that “disruptive”?
  2. Santaniello and three other JTF faculty members are former journalists who once quietly observed meetings themselves.
  3. FAU’s attorney is so wrong, it’s not even funny.

This joke is illegal…

“Under Florida law, advisory committees formed for the purpose of making recommendations are subject to both our open meetings law and the public records law,” says attorney Barbara Petersen, who’s also president of the First Amendment Foundation, based in Florida’s capital of Tallahassee.

In the nation’s capital, another attorney agrees.

“Legally, I think the answer is pretty clear,” says Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center in Washington, DC. “This is really a ‘task force’ appointed to participate in the decision process — it’s not just six people informally getting together for a brainstorming session.”

Because of that, “Under Florida law, it’s a public meeting and must comply with all of the legal formalities — including giving public notice and letting the public attend.”

I’ve twice emailed David Williams, the director of FAU’s Communication School. In an amusing twist, he refuses to communicate with me.


This joke is sad…

After hearing these legal opinions, FAU administrators still didn’t open those Journalism Task Force meetings. Instead, they shut down the entire project.

Here’s the joint statement yesterday from arts and letters dean Heather Coltman and student affairs vice president Corey King

Due to the desire of some individuals to create unnecessary conflict that does not contribute to the progress of student journalism at FAU or aid in the progress of designing a better learning experience for students, we have decided to suspend the activities of the task force.

I’m fairly certain I’m one of those “individuals.”

I had threatened to crash the next JTF meeting and force them to arrest me, because that would’ve been hilarious: Journalists calling the cops to arrest a journalist trying to report on a meeting of journalists talking about journalism.


This joke is typical…

Weirdly, Coltman and King believe open meetings do “not contribute to the progress of student journalism at FAU.”

That confuses the SPLC’s Frank LoMonte…

Leaving the law aside, it’s ponderous why any discussion of the structure of a journalism program should exclude interested campus stakeholders. The biggest question would be: Why would you want to?

The reason we have a legal requirement to conduct meetings in the open is because closed meetings inherently breed distrust. Any decision produced by a meeting from which the public is purposefully and consciously excluded will be tainted by a cloud of illegitimacy.

Of course, if the real purpose of the Journalism Task Force was to scheme ways to gut the newspaper’s embarrassing coverage of FAU, then secret meetings make sense.

LoMonte and many others wouldn’t be shocked if the JTF was just the latest assault on a student newspaper that’s uncovered uncomfortable truths in the past – like its investigation of FAU’s Board of Trustees that found those 13 overseers of the school’s finances have personally accumulated “three bankruptcy filings, seven foreclosures, 21 tax warrants, and one federal tax lien.”

Now that’s good comedy.


This joke ain’t over.

The punchline here is: College media rarely “win” these battles, but if they always fight with a smile, they’ll never lose. In this millennium alone, FAU has, among other things…

  • tried locking students out of their newsroom
  • illegally frozen the newspaper’s budget
  • fired its adviser
  • threatened the editor with student conduct court if she met with that adviser even off campus

…yet FAU’s student journalists have always gotten the last laugh, then landed good jobs. That’s because you value most what you must fight to keep. And FAU loves to pick a fight.

“If there’s any university in America that has earned zero benefit of the doubt in its treatment of journalists,” LoMonte says, “it’s Florida Atlantic, with its deplorably long rap sheet of stonewalling and harassment.”

So if the students at FAU can win weirdly, you can, too. We’re here to help. Check out SMACK for details.

Michael Koretzky was FAU’s part-time newspaper adviser from 1998 until 2010, when he was fired. The staff asked him to volunteer, which he still does to this day.


Bad press, hot mess


A journalism professor was fired this week.

Everyone’s talking about it, but few are complaining about it.

Although he’s vowed to fight to get his job back, tomorrow is James Tracy‘s last day at Florida Atlantic University, an obscure state school between Palm Beach and Miami Beach.

So why has CBS News and NBC News covered his firing? Why has the story spread from The Washington Post to The Jerusalem Post?

Because Tracy accidentally accomplished something no journalist (or politician or celebrity) could pull off on purpose: Enrage both the liberal left and extreme right, plus most of the moderate middle. So basically, everyone.

Tracy is arguably the nation’s most-hated and best-educated conspiracy theorist. He’s paranoid with a PhD.

On his personal blog called Memory Hole, he insists “the federal government and its major media appendages” are behind almost every act of terrorism — foreign and domestic — in this country…

  • The 1993 World Trade Center bombing: “was in fact a FBI sting.”
  • The Boston marathon bombing: “finely tuned stagecraft” by the federal government to exert more “government-corporate manipulation.”
  • The San Bernadino shootings: “Clear evidence” of a government “drill gone live.”

But what got Tracy interviewed on CNN and mocked by late-night TV hosts a few years ago was this declaration: The Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre “never took place.” It was really a “live shooter drill” featuring “crisis actors” hired by the federal government and covered up by national media.

That, of course, means those 20 children who the media said were shot dead are still very much alive. Which means their parents are part of the cover-up.

As offensive as that is, Tracy wasn’t fired. He was only “reprimanded” because…

  • He’s a tenured professor.
  • FAU is a public institution.
  • Faculty defended his right to free speech and academic freedom.
  • Everyone thought this would blow over.

Except it blew up. Tracy has gone from talking crazy to acting crazy.

Last month, on the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, two parents wrote a guest column in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the daily paper closest to FAU. In it, Lenny and Veronique Pozner called for FAU to finally fire Tracy, claiming…

Tracy even sent us a certified letter demanding proof that Noah once lived, that we were his parents, and that we were the rightful owner of his photographic image. We found this so outrageous and unsettling that we filed a police report for harassment. Once Tracy realized we would not respond, he subjected us to ridicule and contempt on his blog, boasting to his readers that the “unfulfilled request” was “noteworthy” because we had used copyright claims to “thwart continued research of the Sandy Hook massacre event.”

Tracy replied on Facebook…

The local conspirators in Newtown, such as the alleged parents of the murdered children, including Lenny and Veronique Pozner, have made out very well financially, soliciting contributions from generous yet misinformed Americans, where the families have averaged more than $1,000,000 apiece.

That was enough for FAU, who many observers thought would nail Tracy for the harassment — but instead cited a paperwork problem. As The Huffington Post reported…

In a notice of termination obtained by The Huffington Post, the school chastised Tracy for failing to submit paperwork about outside employment or “professional activity” required of all faculty. Instead, Tracy provided a letter saying he shouldn’t have to fill out the forms, according to the notice.

So that’s as tidy a summary as this reporter can muster. If you’ve made it this far, ask yourself: Would you have fired James Tracy now? Before? Or never?

Me, I agree with firing him now.

That might seem like a weird thing to say on a blog that champions college journalism. But I look at it like this…

Journalists frequently investigate cops, doctors, and lawyers who defend their own kind even when they repeatedly screw up. These are compelling stories because they reveal professional hypocrisy, and because real people get hurt.

For noble reasons, I don’t want SPJ to become that kind of story. For greedy reasons, I don’t want to excuse bad journalists because it undermines SPJ’s credibility when we stick up for good journalists.

So besides Tracy tormenting grieving parents, here are four unreported reasons why I’m conspiring against him…


1. James Tracy can’t write.

I doubt many of Tracy’s caustic critics and casual supporters have actually read his blog. I have. And it’s awful.

I’m even not talking about the content. I’m talking about the clarity. Tracy’s writing is impenetrable. Here’s one paragraph from a Sandy Hook post titled, Continued Ambiguity and Augmented Realities

Along these lines and despite countervailing facts and inconsistencies the official story of the Sandy Hook shooting is now part of the nation’s collective experience, consciousness and memory. To declare that the shooting “never took place” is cause for intense opprobrium in most polite circles where, in familiar Orwellian fashion, the media-induced trance and dehistoricized will to believe maintain their hold. Similarly, an individual who contends that Timothy McVeigh was an accessory in a much larger operation at Oklahoma City, Osama bin Laden was not responsible for the events of 9/11, or the World Trade Center Towers were brought down by controlled demolition is vigorously condemned for thought crimes against the state. Such are the immense dimensions of mass manipulation where fact and tragedy may be routinely revised and reinforced to fit the motives and designs toward a much larger apparatus of social and geopolitical control.

Interestingly, Tracy says he’s “misunderstood” by the general public. But if you can’t write clearly about a topic you know is controversial, maybe you shouldn’t teach others about writing.


2. James Tracy hates the mainstream media.

But maybe that’s because he doesn’t understand it.

Tracy says he was “attacked” by Anderson Cooper in a 2013 broadcast. But the CNN anchor simply caught Tracy in a lie. Cooper said this about the Sandy Hook victims…

In his blog Tracy suggests they may have been, and I quote, “trained actors working under the direction of state and federal authorities and in coordination with cable and broadcast network talent to provide tailor-made crisis acting,” end quote. Tracy even cites a company called Crisis Actors that provides actors to use in safety drills and the like. Apparently, that is supposed to bolster his case. By the way, there is such a company, and they are appalled by his comments.

In a statement today they said, and I quote, “We are outraged by Tracy’s deliberate promotion of rumor and innuendo to link Crisis Actors to the Sandy Hook shootings. We do not engage our actors in any real-world crisis events.”

How did Tracy respond? He wrote an open letter to Cooper: “I challenge you to join me on a reportorial quest to Newtown and Sandy Hook in order to revisit and rigorously question the painful affair.”

Of course, that never happened.

Did Tracy really expect Anderson Cooper to hand him a microphone so they could jointly interrogate Sandy Hook victims? What reporter asks a controversial source, “Hey, wanna go interview some people with me?”

No journalist would do that, and no journalism professor would teach that. Yet Tracy closes his letter by boasting, “This could very well be a landmark event in investigative journalism.”

Elsewhere in the letter, Tracy complains that CNN pestered him after he refused to comment: “Your staff then repeatedly telephoned my residence, later filming in front of my home.”

That’s legal and common. Doesn’t Tracy understand how reporting works?

It’s hard to tell, because he can’t write: “Major news media operate in a de facto censorial fashion with the federal government to highlight certain phenomena while simultaneously rendering important artifacts down the memory hole.”

If you don’t like something and don’t understand it, why would you want to teach it?


3. James Tracy isn’t a great professor.

He’s not a terrible one, either.

I asked several FAU alumni about his classroom demeanor and got a Goldilocks range of responses: hot, cold, just right. That’s typical of any professor who’s taught for more than a decade.

Those who took his classes years ago – from Introduction to Media Studies to Public Opinion and Modernity, among others – seem to have liked him more than those who have taken them recently…

He was incredibly strict and his class was challenging, but the content was actually fascinating and I really enjoyed his class. I think his craziness got a hell of a lot worse in the last few years.

One simply said, “That man is vile,” while another adored him…

I carry a lot of what I learned in his classes in my pockets everyday. Some it was far-fetched. Some if it not. All of it challenged me to rethink why it might be far-fetched, though, which forced me to consider common explanations we often take for granted. He was one of my favorite professors.

But because Tracy is such an unabashed conspiracy theorist, one professional editor who took his class eight years ago told me…

I honestly don’t remember him doing anything overtly weird. But because he had such a negative view of the media, it did make question whether or not I wanted to be a journalist.

…and that’s dangerous. If Tracy scares one college journalist out of the profession for reasons easily proven wrong — according to investigations by the same media he loathes — his downside swamps his upside.

There’s no shortage of engaging journalism professors who can enlighten without frightening. And in fact, some FAU alumni believe Tracy benefited from teaching in a Communication School that lacked many compelling professors – he was simply fascinating by comparison.


4. James Tracy is delusional.

Tracy insists he’s the victim here…

“I was being publicly excoriated and my livelihood threatened for essentially doing what I was trained and hired to do — media analysis and criticism.”

But where’s the “analysis and criticism” in this

It is now beyond question that the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr. all involved patsies, additional gunman and perhaps most importantly, mass media complicity to achieve their political ends.

“Beyond question”?

Even so, I defend Jim Tracy’s right to write. But harassing the parents of dead kids and getting paid with tax dollars while doing it? To quote Tracy…

“One is left to seriously ponder the informal yet persuasive constraints placed in intellectuals today who concretely address certain controversial issues and topics.”

Whatever the hells that means.

Michael Koretzky was FAU’s part-time newspaper adviser from 1998 until 2010, when he was fired. The staff asked him to volunteer, which he still does to this day.



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