More troubles for Sam Zell, Heather Mills is coming to town, and half of Bear Stearns employees are facing the ax. Click through to read the rest of our news roundup from the fields of media, law, finance and real estate.
When a noose was found tied to the office door of Teacher's College professor Madonna Constantine back in October, the university rallied around her. "I will not be silenced," the professor and author of several papers on multiculturalism said in a statement to media at the time. The crowd around her applauded, but no doubt some were rolling their eyes. As it turns out, Constantine has been the focus of a plagiarism investigation by the college for the last eighteen months, and they've now announced that they've found “numerous instances in which she used others’ work without attribution in papers she published in academic journals over the past five years.” Awkward! Constantine, unwilling, it seems, to let go of her status as the Rosa Parks of Morningside Heights, sent out an e-mail to students and faculty calling the investigation “a conspiracy and witch-hunt.”
“I am left to wonder whether a white faculty member would have been treated in such a publicly disrespectful and disparaging manner,” she wrote. “As one of only two tenured Black women full professors at Teachers College, it pains me to conclude that I have been specifically and systematically targeted.” Exactly how other people were responsible for the fact that Constantine totally plagiarized from her own students is unclear.
Columbia Cites Plagiarism by a Professor [NYT]
Earlier: Columbia Students Have Something Noose to Be Indignant About
Today a Dartmouth student blog took a peek at the numbers of alcohol-related infractions per thousand students in each of the Ivy League schools. Unsurprisingly, Dartmouth itself came out on top. There's not a lot going on off-campus in terms of nightlife, and since the popular fraternities are in and around school grounds, it makes sense that the university would be busting people with high regularity. But what we find more telling is that Columbia University is the Ivy League school with the second-lowest percentage of drinking infractions. Below Brown. Is that possible? There are plenty of reasons kids at Columbia wouldn't get busted as much (they can drink anywhere in the city, they are too cool to get drunk), but the laws of physics imply that there would be a high level of obvious partying up there in Morningside Heights. We're talking:
Hundreds of Freshman + Dozens of Places to get IDs x Thousands of Delis Where Owners Don't Care If You Are Underage / Limited Entrances And Exits To Dorms That Are Monitored For Safety = Easily Detectable Drunkenness
This makes us worry. Surely our proud Manhattan Ivy Leaguers should be getting busted more frequently. Clearly the school is not working hard enough. Or is it possible that our best and brightest are the second-lamest in all the Ivy League*? That would be pretty devastating.
How Do the Ivies Stack Up on Alcohol Enforcement? [Joe's DartBlog via IvyGate]
*Daily Intel does not advocate underage drinking. As to whether or not we think it is "cool," we plead the Fifth.
Have you turned on the TV lately? On it, you can see fat people voluntarily getting weighed in front of studio audiences, young models who travel across the country to be shamed for not having enough self-confidence, washed-up rock stars telling total strangers that they really need to let their guard down and open up their hearts. Judgment is hot right now. Everyone wants to be judged. Which is probably the reason Columbia Journalism School dean Nick Lemann, who was supposed to be sending graduating students their final evaluations, instead "accidentally" e-mailed his students the evaluation he had written for the provost — of himself. In the memo, now on Romenesko, he praised his administration for creating the Masters of Arts program and adjusting the curriculum of the Master of Science program in "response to the rapid onset of the Internet as the dominant delivery medium for journalism," among a bunch of other good things. But is it enough? No, Lemann reports, it is not. "I don't think I have been nearly effective enough in persuading either our own Journalism School community, or other journalism schools, or the wider world of the profession, that the professional education of a journalist should include intellectual content," he said.
Like many before him, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham went to speak to the students at the Columbia Journalism School and found that kids today are nothing but a bunch of ungrateful no-goodniks with no respect for their elders. Did anyone in the room even read his magazine, he asked plaintively, according to the Observer? "No!" a black-turtleneck-clad pupil shouted back. They all read the Economist now, the student explained. (Obvs! Because it has way better fonts and is funny in that British-y way, you know, like with the "sir" thing.) "The success of the Economist — the fact that you read it, a black-turtlenecked guy at Columbia," Meacham sputtered. Then he began, sadly, to plead. "Look, I need you," he said. "I need — I've got people out there risking their lives right now … I've got four people in Baghdad who could be killed at any moment … and how to get you past this image that we're just middlebrow, you know, a magazine that your grandparents get, or something, that's the challenge. And I just don't know how to do it, so if you've got any ideas, tell me." The students suggested he try "re-branding." Hey, maybe he could hire Jay-Z!
Jon Meacham's Cri de Coeur [NYO]
• The falling market has shaved off a big chunk of Wall Street hottie John Thain's compensation. Don't worry, Thainie-boy, we still love you. [DealBook/NYT]
• Wondering what the hell's happening in the markets? Watch one trader lose his life savings in a single day. (NSFW) [Crossing Wall Street]
• Ex–Goldman banker becomes underwater gravedigger. Say what? [NYT]
Today, the New York Times set out to blow open the little-discussed enigma that is Barack Obama's three-year stint of living in New York. He only mentions the period briefly in his memoir, and a campaign spokesman says "he doesn't remember the names of a lot of people in his life" from that time. So Times reporter Janny Scott is on the case to find out what really went on while he was here as a Columbia student and organizer, and what he's been hiding. And the answer is nothing! Sure, he remembers some things wrong or exaggerates them (he says he had a secretary during one job, and he didn't; he overstated the size of a company where he worked), but mostly it just seems like his time here was, well, unremarkable. Kind of like what New York discovered when we looked into his Harvard Law career. In both cases he claims he was active in black student and political organizations, but fellow students don't always remember him. Can it be that when he was younger, the Democratic miracle boy just wasn't that special? That while Hillary Clinton was making magazine covers and nationally noted speeches, Barack Obama was just normal? We won't believe it! Candidates can't be just like us — because we know ourselves pretty well, and people like that have no business running for president.
Memories of Obama in New York Differ [NYT]
Earlier:The Making of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama
• Rupert Murdoch minces words: "When asked whether he was aiming to kill the New York Times, Mr. Murdoch replied simply: 'That would be nice.'" Meanwhile, isn't this a fun graphic in Murdoch's Post? [Guardian]
• Murdoch may get a little help thanks to Morgan Stanley, who sold off their entire 7 percent stake in the Times. But one analyst says Morgan Stanley is the real loser, since the firm completely failed to change the Times' structure and took a big hit on the sale. [NYP, NYO]
• n+1 continues its campaign to corrupt young minds, slipping pamphlets under the doors of unsuspecting Columbia freshmen. [NYS]
An e-mail went out to Columbia students this evening:
From: Lee C. Bollinger
Date: Oct 11, 2007 5:20 PM
Subject: Recent Bias Incidents
Dear member of the Columbia community,
I am saddened to report that one of the bathrooms in Lewisohn Hall was sullied with an anti-Semitic smear. It has been promptly removed and is now being investigated.
Here we go again. It's like the sixties all over again! Only, you know, without all the good stuff.
As we never would have guessed, the Columbia noose scandal has blown up in the pages of the tabloids. It's worth the ink, but we couldn't help but notice the different ways the New York papers have handled the role of Madonna Constantine's rival professor, Suniya Luthar (who is Indian). The two had some professional scuffles that resulted in Constantine filing a defamation suit against Luthar in May. The Daily Newsmentions her name in its main article, making it clear, though, that Luthar was "not a suspect" in a police investigation of the noose incident. The Timeswas even vaguer, protecting Luthar from the ire of readers by leaving her name out of its coverage entirely. Since police say there are no "persons of interest" in the case so far, both papers seem to reason, why drag Luthar's name through the mud? For salaciousness' sake, of course! That's why the Post devoted an entire article to the Luthar-Constantine spat, implied that Luthar was being questioned suspiciously in the headline, and ran a giant picture of her across page six of the paper. We love Post logic: Why only have one person's life be traumatized when you could have two?
Sleuths Seek to Question Rival in 'Smear' [NYP]
California state representative Duncan Hunter was on Fox last night, and he's still got his knickers all in a twist about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Columbia last week. Late last week, he introduced legislation that proposes cutting Columbia's access to federal funding (the university received $458 million in '05) in order to punish them for hosting an adversary of America. Basically, Hunter postulates that Ahmadinejad's appearance at Columbia, and the attention surrounding it — the discussion, the blogs, the numerous tabloid covers — might have given the wee Iranian Heidi Montag Disease, the recently identified condition in which a minor character is plucked from obscurity and elevated by a bored and restless culture to a level of fame far greater than their original stature ever warranted. Except, you know, Hunter doesn't exactly mention the condition by name (maybe because Heidi is a constituent?) Anyway! Hunter's bill does not, unfortunately, call for an end to The Hills.
Only just yesterday morning, Columbia University president Lee Bollinger was about as popular as Alger Hiss during the Red Scare. His decision to invite Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak during the annual World Leaders Forum was criticized everywhere: In newspaper editorials, by presidential hopefuls, not to mention all the students and protesters who hung around Morningside Heights, handing out flyers saying things like, "Bollinger, too bad bin Laden is not available."
But since he laid his verbal smackdown on Ahmadinejad, boy has he bounced back! Immediately after the debate ended yesterday afternoon, Columbia's student newspaper, the Spectator reported the university was being "flooded with calls to congratulate Columbia on the Ahmadinejad invitation talk about a change of heart." Seriously! It continued this morning.