Procrastination on September 21, 2017

Live from Harvard Professor John Stauffer Sets His Reputation on Fire: Apropos of the role of the university, we had this quote last week from Stauffer re Michelle Jones:

We didn’t have some preconceived idea about crucifying Michelle. But frankly, we knew that anyone could just punch her crime into Google, and Fox News would probably say that P.C. liberal Harvard gave 200 grand of funding to a child murderer, who also happened to be a minority. I mean, c’mon...

Stauffer says that the facts have been "selected and distorted" here. I believe that the Marshall Project selected facts. But how is this quote distorted?

I read this letter below as an admission that this quote is accurate.

Josh Marshall: John Stauffer Replies: "Back on September 15th I wrote... on Michelle Jones.... who spent twenty years in prison for murdering her son and is beginning a PhD program at NYU...

...her rejection from the history PhD program at Harvard. In the original Times story and in my post responding to it, John Stauffer, a Professor at Harvard, played a leading role. Stauffer has submitted the following letter to clarify his position. I’m publishing it in full:

To TalkingPointsMemo.Com:

In his article, “From Prison to Ph.D.,” published last week in the New York Times, Eli Hager argued that Harvard University did not give Michelle Jones a fair review, owing to her criminal record.

Hager writes for the Marshall Project, an advocacy group that seeks to “create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system,” according to its website.

In developing his argument, Hager said that “top Harvard officials” rejected Jones’s admission “out of concern that her background would cause a backlash among rejected applicants, conservative news outlets, or parents of students.”

This is simply wrong. It misrepresents what I emphasized in my interview, which was the widespread support, including my own, for Jones’s admission, despite potential backlash.

Hager further suggested that the memo my colleague, Daniel Carpenter, and I circulated was a highly unusual procedure. In fact it was standard procedure. In the past fifteen years, I have regularly contacted deans over questions I’ve had in admissions cases, and their feedback has been invaluable. In Jones’s case, while Professor Carpenter and I continued to support her admission, we noted some discrepancies that merited additional investigation.

Unlike Chelsea Manning, whose visiting fellowship was rescinded, Michelle Jones never received an admissions offer from Harvard. Jones’s case became front-page news only because the Marshall Project, which encourages leaks, received some, and then both selected and distorted facts, apparently in the service of its advocacy goal.

John Stauffer, Sumner R. and Marshall S. Kates Professor of English and of African and African American Studies, Harvard University