Chapman University’s Center for Freedom of Expression and Media Integrity is continuing to underwhelm, beyond all my expectations. First, it hired Brian Calle–who in just his few hours as publisher managed to reduce the once-thriving LA Weekly into a meaningless mash-up of fluff stories and nonsense–to be its executive director. Then it booked former White House Press Secretaries Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Robert Gibbs to some sort of “launch event.”
“The event, scheduled for Nov. 20, is ticketed and will take place at The Richard Nixon Library located in Yorba Linda, California,” states this Nov. 3 story by Chapman Panther Editor Louisa Marshall, who broke the story. “Brian Calle, a professor of communication at Chapman and the executive director of the center, confirmed the event in a Nov. 1 email to The Panther, saying the nature of the event will result in ‘quite a conversation.'”
Of course this embarrassment will happen at the Nixon Library! This is America, where an organization with the words “Media Integrity” in its name hosts individuals who were paid to lie to the American people at the library of the only U.S. president forced to resign from office in disgrace because of his corruption.
Sanders lied so much in the service of President Donald Trump that when she finally left the White House earlier this year, Vanity Fair posted this nostalgic look back at “her biggest lies.” Who’s to say which was the worst, but this one certainly stands out:
Smearing the many, many women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment or assault and claiming they are the liars
And Gibbs, honestly, he wasn’t much better. In fact, his attempt to justify, rationalize President Barack Obama’s ordering of a drone strike in October 2012 that killed 16-year-old American citizen Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was downright disgusting, as this Atlantic piece from back then makes perfectly clear:
REPORTER: It’s an American citizen that is being targeted without due process, without trial. And, he’s underage. He’s a minor.
GIBBS: I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children. I don’t think becoming an al Qaeda jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business.
Seriously, fuck these two.
Peter McLaren, a Distinguished Professor in Critical Studies at Chapman University, isn’t happy about the event, either. “In these difficult times of political bloodlust and fascist politics playing out not only by the White House administration (the media are the enemy of the people, the Democrats are traitors, etc.) but all around the globe, to remain hospitable to the ravings and machinations of authoritarian populists like Donald Trump as well as his enablers and cheerleaders (the respectable Republicans are now ex-Republicans), is at best unconscionable,” McLaren said in a Nov. 4 email. “The one sign of hope left on Chapman campus is the solitary statue of Paulo Freire, patron of Brazilian education, who was cast into prison for his work on literacy with Brazilian peasants, and whose legacy is currently under assault by the Trump’s ‘friend’, Brazil’s fascist president [Jair] Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro, like today’s Republicans in the US, are frightened by critical literacy, by an education that condemns fascist ideology and promotes critical thinking and social justice initiatives. By supporting these ideologues on the right, we are slouching not towards the radiant city on the hill, but towards the dungheap of history.”
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.