Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Houston, We Have a Tipping Point!

Now I know how Al Franken felt when Fox sued him.

Your humble blogger actually gets singled out by Mark Hyman in his most recent “Point” commentary. You’d assume that with everything I’ve written, Hyman would be complaining about something I’ve said about him on this blog. And in a way he is, but he doesn't have the courage to do it directly.

Rather than contradict anything that’s been said on this blog, Hyman does what has become all too familiar to those of us who know him well: misappropriate and misstate information about a political rival rather than actually talking substantively about the issues.

In what I’m sure is simply a coincidence [editor’s note: please drizzle several ladlefuls of sarcasm over previous comment], less than a week after being interviewed by "Ring of Fire" on Air America, Hyman includes yours truly in a list of “out of touch” academics. That’s right—I’m lumped right in there with the guy who compared 9/11 victims to Nazis. What did I do to deserve such scorn? According to Hyman, I think plagiarism is just fine and dandy. Here’s the exerpt:

The University of Iowa's Ted Remington cautions that
while plagiarizing work shortchanges the student's own learning it doesn't
really hurt anybody.

"While plagiarism is often defined as 'stealing' someone else's
words or ideas, it is rarely the case that published writers or public speakers
are harmed by having their words or their thoughts 'stolen' by a college

If you need to plagiarize would you at least turn
your in assignments on time. I've got a latte waiting for me at the campus
coffee house.

You know what’s coming, don’t you? Altogether now: I never said that.

Here’s what happened. Apparently deciding that my little blog and 15 minutes (literally) of Air America fame was a fly worth swatting, Hyman & Co. went on a search for something he might be able to embarrass me with. What he found was the course packet for the online rhetoric course offered through the University of Iowa. I currently teach this course, but I had nothing to do with the writing of the course materials. Not a single word. I’m simply listed as an instructor.

Not fazed by that, Hyman excerpted a portion of the standard statement on plagiarism, the point of which is that plagiarism is bad not because it does any major damage to an established author to have her or his words cited without credit by a college freshman, but because it is stealing. Here’s the excerpt in its full form:

Plagiarism is a serious academic offense that entails presenting the words and/or ideas of others as though they were original to you. While plagiarism is often defined as "stealing" someone else's words or ideas, it is rarely the case that published writers or public speakers are harmed by having their words or their thoughts "stolen" by a college student. On the contrary, the real harm of plagiarism is the harm that students do to themselves. Encountering new ideas and information, thinking about them critically, and finding effective language to express independent thinking is the central activity of a college education. When students "steal" the words or thoughts of another and present them as their own original words and ideas, they shortchange themselves educationally. To simply reproduce the form of something another has said or written is to skip the mental processing (reflection, comparison, critical evaluation, etc.) that is the essence of learning.

Such is the “fringe” thinking here at the University of Iowa’s Department of Rhetoric.

So Hyman, in order to make his point, has not only misappropriated a quoted source (plagiarism), but taken it completely out of context as well. You know, Mark, we do a pretty good job here at Iowa of teaching our freshman to cite sources correctly and how to use quoted material in its proper context. There’ll always be a desk available for you in my classroom if you’d like to stop by and learn something.

But it gets even better!

As I am wont to do, I sent a copy of yesterday’s Counterpoint to the head honchos at Sinclair. I received an email from Mr. Barry Faber, vice president and chief legal representative of Sinclair. As you’ll remember, yesterday’s Counterpoint responded to Hyman’s approval of Maryland Governor Ehrlich’s edict banning reporters from the Baltimore Sun from speaking with any member of the state’s executive branch or attending press conferences. Mr. Faber wanted to know if I was aware that one of the reasons for Mr. Ehrlich’s consternation was the fact that an opinion columnist for the Sun had said made a remark about one of the governor’s spokesmen “having trouble keeping a straight face” when announcing a particular policy of the governor’s. The columnist in question wasn’t even at the press conference, so (according to Mr. Faber) he could not possibly know the actual facial expression on the man’s face. Mr. Faber assured me that if anyone at Sinclair misrepresented the facts in a similar way, he would personally recommend that they be fired.

I pointed out to Mr. Faber that “keeping a straight face” was obviously used in a metaphorical sense (as it usually is) as a means of suggesting that the stated policy was at odds with reality. It was clearly not intended to state the physical reality of the situation.

But then I saw the transcript of the most recent “Point,” and I can’t help but compare the two incidents. The Sun reporter, for using a metaphor, deserves to be fired. Hyman, on the other hand, willfully misquoted a source and misrepresented its content to score political points against a foe.

I’m just wondering, Mr. Faber: when will Mark Hyman be asked to clean out his desk?

And that’s The Counterpoint.


At 9:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark Hyman's "The Point" is simply air pollution. I complained about this recurrent abuse of the air waves to KCRA, the Sacramento television station with the dubious distinction of being California's only Sinclair outlet. I was not given the courtesy of a reply. Perhaps they decided I was out of touch with reality when I complained that Hyman was using his daily editorial time to smear John Kerry and pimp for George Bush.

At 10:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Mark Hyman's Commentary, quoted from MediaMatters post

"Mark Hyman smeared two university professors and a college's women's studies program, distorting statements and taking them out of context in order to argue that American universities are home to "unemployable individuals [who] are paid to proselytize intellectually bankrupt viewpoints.""

There is just one minor distortion with the above statement, and it is easily correctible. If Mr. Hyman had only substituted the words "Fox News" or "Sinclair Broadcasting" for "American universities" in the above statement, it would be perfectly accurate.

This problem would never have seen the light of day in a truly professional news organization. Sinclair will continue to be a "bush league" outfit until they get these types of problems under control.

Keep rockin' Ted.

Myron Biggs

At 12:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's one thing to act dispicably to smear an opponent -- but it's a completely different thing to do it incompetently.

It's incompetence. Hyman's The Point is sheer incompetence.

And on behalf of all the people in opposition to the Point (a group which I'm sure includes not only liberals -- but anybody opposed to mindless drivel in general): thanks Ted for keeping this site up. I admire your endurance in putting up with this inexcusable tripe.

At 9:23 AM, Blogger Mark701 said...

Hyman is a fool and only fools give him any credit. Look at it this way, his attack on you is proof you're beginning to get under his skin. Keep up the good work!!

At 11:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, have complained to my local station, KGAN in Cedar Rapids, IA, about Hyman and I have never received a response. I was happy to find this site, as my wife and I feel very alone in our opposition to the use of what we consider 'our' local station running this crap under the guise of news. Keep up the good work.

At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just found this sight--Keep up the good work--I get Hyman on my local Fox affiliate in Pittsburgh. He's atrocious. He isn't even a "good" conservative in that he simply reiterates the most addle minded conservative rhetoric. He's the worst stereotype of a conservative. I swear he is plagairazing from a George Wallace speech.

At 3:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess Mr. Hyman knows how to come to this comment section and defend himself. Did he offer you a chance to defend yourself on his turf?

At 6:31 PM, Blogger gensu said...

It seems to me that you have a pretty strong libel case here. Have you consulted with an attorney?

At 11:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll add KGAN to the list of Iowa media outlets I won't look to for news. Already on the list, the Cedar Rapids Gazette who recently decided that to "balance out" Molly Ivins they need to bring Ann Coulter to the op-ed page. Thank goodness we have the interweb.

At 7:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ted,

This incident has inspired several people to say "enough is enough".

It is one thing to state opinions on the stations you owns. It is another to use the public's airwaves to smear people and:

- not offer equal time (or any time) to rebut the smear

- offer a "Mailbag" segment (on the Saturday edition of The Point, when viewership is lowest) in which Der Hyman belittles opposing views and selects viewer comments out of context.

This is simply despicable.

Welcome to the SBC: Soviet Broadcasting Corporation.

How low have we sunk.


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