How Talking To A Political Reporter Gave Me A Black Eye

The current political campaign is, as I have learned to my deep regret, a dangerous place in which to speak about past events. In this instance, an article by Charles Johnson in the Daily Caller on September 12 attributed to me factual errors that I did not make, and could not have made – namely, that Barack Obama had never taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School, which he did regularly, and further that I was a former Law School dean, when I had only served as a interim dean from February to June in 2001.  

Since that time I have received an apology from both Mr. Johnson and Mr. David Martosko, the Executive Editor of the Daily Caller. Mr. Johnson stated that he had become confused about the issue and acknowledged that the statement was false, and that he was sorry that it had made it into the announcement, and that steps have been taken to publish a correction on this matter.

 It is important to note, however, that the  damage from these initial false statements is not easily undone, as stories like this travel all too quickly. I think that it is important to make therefore a fuller statement of the situation.  The sole purpose of my remarks was to confirm the point that Jody Kantor in the New York Times was in error when she wrote that Mr. Obama had received a tenure-track offer in 2000, prior to my time as interim dean.  I had mentioned to her then that I thought the story was a mistake, and thought that I was just repeating old news. 

On this occasion I want to reiterate that nothing that I said then or now was meant to criticize anything that President Obama said or did in 2008 or at any time thereafter.  His position is beyond reproach.  At the time that Mr. Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago, he held the title of senior lecturer, which is in fact the University of Chicago title that typically is sparingly granted to former professors, like myself, who continue to teach and work at the University of Chicago on a part time basis.

I am pleased that both Mr. Johnson and the Daily Caller have issued a correction on that matter, but was disappointed that the current account of this story lists me as a former interim dean, when nothing I said reflected anything that I did in the four months that I held that position, which had happened a year earlier. I hope that this matter will be put to rest.  I want to make it clear that whatever my policy differences with the President, I regard these false statements about his record as a serious professional journalistic breach.  I also offer my own deep and unconditional apologies to everyone who was hurt in this episode—to the President, and to the University of Chicago Law School, and anyone else who rightly took offense at the false statements and misimpressions of the Daily Caller article.

  1. Joseph Eagar

    Hopefully this matter will be cleared up soon.  This sort of wild-eyed attack does our side no favors.

  2. RightinChicago

    I hear steaks are good for black eyes. Can’t wait for the next podcast.

  3. Albert Arthur

    So what you’re saying is that you fired Barack Obama from the University of Chicago Law School when you were the president of the university?

    What? That’s not what you’re saying? I regret that my previous statement was not entirely accurate. But you understand how these things happen…

    ;-)

  4. Erik Larsen

    Front page headlines in 32 font, corrections on Page A18 in 8 font 

  5. dittoheadadt

    I guess I’m not clear on why you need to offer deep and unconditional apologies for something someone else did. I suspect I’m missing something in this episode, but just not sure what that might be.

  6. Herkybird

    Funny, but I don’t know of a case where talking to a reporter didn’t prove to be counter-productive.  They can never seem to get the little things right, yet we still trust them to shape or view of the world.  No wonder we’re always disappointed.

  7. Douglas

    The Daily Caller is a tabloid rag. They had a story a couple of months back with a Gawker-ish title, “Kim Kardashian is definitely *not suitable for Ricochet CoC* Kanye West now. In the comments, there were a LOT of “Tucker Carlson needs to apologize for this stuff and pull it from the site”, but he never did, and the story stayed up. Carlson may present this clean cut boy reporter image of himself, with his bow-tie and striped shirts, but his site reads like a right-leaning Perez Hilton knockoff at times.

  8. genferei

    MSM – and those that ape its tropes – delenda est.

  9. Fredösphere
    dittoheadadt: I guess I’m not clear on why you need to offer deep and unconditional apologies for something someone else did. I suspect I’m missing something in this episode, but just not sure what that might be. · 3 minutes ago

    It’s clearer in the video version of this apology, where Prof. Epstein’s eyelids can be seen to be blinking the word “TORTURE” in Morse code.

  10. Eeyore

    My apologies for bringing the article up in the member feed. My main takeaway was the clarification that the President had been a senior lecturer as opposed to a professor. You took pains to say that nothing you were saying was intended to reflect poorly on the President’s work. I did miss the”Did Obama teach constitutional law? No, says Epstein” page 2 tag line of the article. 

    eeyore3.jpgI guess it’s time I take my lumps for shooting first and aiming later (or something like I heard lately).

  11. Spin

    Professor,  

    Kindly switch political preferences.  Then you can say whatever you like (so long as it’s not about another liberal) and no one will bat an eye.

    Thank you,

    The Establishment