N&O columnist: Time for UNC to send right-wing mega-donor packing

Carroll Hall UNC Hussman School of Journalism (Photo by Mihaly I. Lukacs CC BY-SA 4.0)

Be sure to check out columnist Ned Barnett’s fine essay in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer. In “As Hussman returns to UNC, it’s time for UNC to say goodbye,” he offers a clear explanation of why the UNC School of Journalism should end its relationship with the man — right-wing publisher Walter Hussman, Jr. — who did so much to lead the racially-charged opposition to the hiring of acclaimed journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Hussman is returning to campus today and tomorrow, and this visit, Barnett rightfully points out, ought to be used by school leaders as an opportunity to sever the relationship. Here’s the excellent conclusion to Barnett’s essay:

According to [faculty member] Steven King’s memo, Hussman and the school’s administrators and a few selected faculty are expected to meet Friday to draw “a road map for working through our differences that is agreeable to Faculty and Mr. Hussman.”

It might be best if the road map includes an exit. Hussman has only delivered a small portion of his pledge and $12.5 million of it won’t be paid until he and his wife are deceased. Hussman and UNC should use this juncture to consider cutting their losses. He can keep the remainder of his pledge and UNC’s journalism school can try to restore its reputation.

And the damage isn’t limited to Hussman’s actions. The UNC administration has engaged in a witch hunt by searching faculty emails to find who might have leaked information on Hussman’s contract. Really, a journalism school is cracking down on information disclosed about the operation of a public university.

Even without the Hannah-Jones controversy, the idea of a UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media is a stretch. Hussman’s support of conservative politicians often falls short of another core value of journalism: “Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.”

Indeed. Click here to read the entire column.

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