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Week of 17 September 2004 · Vol. VIII, No. 3

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Los Angeles Times: Come clean quick

Within 24 hours of the airing of a September 8 CBS News report alleging that George W. Bush received preferential treatment in the Air National Guard in the early 1970s, other news organizations raised questions about the authenticity of a key document referred to in the story. Observers voiced suspicion that CBS had fallen for a hoax designed either by Bush detractors to besmear the president or by Bush supporters to discredit criticism of his military record. But the day after running the story, CBS issued only a terse statement asserting its credibility, then was slow to name the document experts their reporters initially consulted. “The first rule of public relations is to get all the bad news out right away,” says Tobe Berkovitz, COM associate dean and an associate professor of mass communication, advertising, and public relations, in the September 12 Los Angeles Times. “It looks like CBS News has made some serious errors here, and if so, they should plead nolo contendere and not do the perp walk later.”

Times-Picayune ( New Orleans): Tragic, but not systematic

The opening this month of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian has sparked public debate about whether the mistreatment of Native Americans by our nation’s European settlers qualifies as genocide. It does not, according to many historians, because encounters between Europeans and Indian tribes were disparate, and whole populations of Indians rarely were intentionally annihilated. The European conquest of the New World may have been “monumentally destructive,” the September 12 New Orleans Times-Picayune quotes from The Holocaust in Historical Context, a 1995 book by CAS Religion Professor Steven Katz, but mass death among native Americans, according to the book, was “almost without exception caused by microbes, not militia. . . . This depopulation happened unwittingly rather than by design.”

Plain Dealer (Cleveland): Finders keepers?

Archaeologists and art critics agree that the Cleveland Museum of Art this summer purchased a legitimate treasure: a relatively unknown ancient bronze sculpture of Apollo, the Greco-Roman god of light, music, and poetry. But the museum shouldn’t have done so, they say, because the work’s ownership history is marked by suspicious gaps. Critics say that when museums purchase such pieces, they encourage art looting and smuggling. “The root cause of looting is collecting,” says Ricardo Elia, a CAS associate professor of archaeology, in Cleveland’s Plain Dealer on September 12. Elia is considered an expert on the ethics of collecting. “It’s supply and demand. . . . Museums like the Cleveland Museum of Art are outrageous in their acquisition policies.”


17 September 2004
Boston University
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