Professor labeled a dangerous academic
URBANA – Robert McChesney has been labeled a "dangerous academic," but the charge doesn't leave him very concerned.
He called the new book that cites him, "The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America," an attack that is "sloppy and unimpressive, an apparent rush job."
McChesney is a communications and library science professor at the University of Illinois who is highly critical of the media, in books as well as on his WILL-AM radio show,
In David Horowitz's book, which was ranked 478 in sales at Amazon.com on Wednesday, McChesney makes the list of 101 professors for negative remarks about President Bush and the mass media.
Horowitz promises to expose 101 academics "who also happen to be alleged ex-terrorists, racists, murderers, sexual deviants, anti-Semites and al-Qaida supporters."
McChesney is not accused of any of that. Horowitz quotes the UI professor as calling Bush "the moronic child of privilege."
The book quotes him as writing "Consider the manner in which the press reported President Bush's 'victory' in the 2000 election. It is now clear that the majority of the people in Florida who went to vote for president in November 2000 intended to vote for Al Gore. . . . But Al Gore isn't president. Why is that? Or to put it another way, why didn't the press coverage assure that the true winner would assume office?"
He also quotes McChesney: "No one should be surprised by the polls showing that close to 90 percent of Americans are satisfied with the performance of their selected president, or that close to 80 percent of the citizenry applaud his administration's seat-of-the-pants management of an undeclared war. After all, most Americans get their information from media that have pledged to give the American people only the president's side of the story."
McChesney said Horowitz's goal is "to attack critical work in the academe, especially critical work that does not restrict itself to the classroom, but sees intellectuals as having a necessary public role. Visible public outreach is A-OK for Milton Friedman, off-limits for liberals and the left."
McChesney said he hasn't had any repercussions from the attack.
"What I've been surprised by is this book has had no discernible effect on anybody," he said.
His boss, Ronald Yates, the dean of the College of Communications, said in an e-mail that "I wouldn't characterize things like this as an attack on academic freedom. It is a political disagreement – or perhaps more accurately, a disagreement about the role of big media in our society, which is something McChesney is often critical of.
"An attack on academic freedom occurs when the institution – i.e., the university administration – censures or disciplines a professor or instructor for saying something or doing something it disagrees with."