Through Jaundiced Eyes: Palm Beach Post, Sun-Sentinel’s Hardcore Bias in TracyvFAU Coverage

What Would Fair and Balanced Journalism Have Looked Like?

By James F. Tracy

The Palm Beach Post and South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s overall coverage of the December 2017 TracyvFAU trial looks as if it could have been written by the Defendant University’s “Department of Media Relations.” Post and Sun-Sentinel managements recognize how FAU’s multitude of advertising dollars is a key  support in their erroneous and uncritical reportage of complex public events and broader operations. With the trial each outlet skewed its reportage and editorial commentary to heavily favor the school, thereby securing for their client a positive verdict in South Florida’s court of public opinion.

One need look no further than the Post and Sun-Sentinel‘s article titles to gather an overview of the TracyvFAU’s editorial thrust:

-“Trial To Begin for Fired FAU Professor, Conspiracy Theorist James Tracy,” Sun Sentinel, November 27, 2017

-“Ex FAU Professor, Conspiracy Theorist James Tracy, Testifies about Firing in Free Speech Case,” Sun Sentinel, November 30, 2017

-“FAU Professor James Tracy Claims School Fired Him for Sandy Hook Rants,” Palm Beach Post, November 30, 2017

-“Ex-FAU Prof on Trial Tries To Downplay Attack on Sandy Hook Parents,” Palm Beach Post, December 1, 2017

-“FAU Prof Wasn’t Fired Because of Sandy Hook Blog, FAU Official Testifies,” Sun Sentinel,December 4, 2017

-“Christie: Tracy-vs-FAU More about Arrogance Than Free Speech, Insubordination,” PalmBeachPost.com, December 5, 2017

-“FAU Prof James Tracy’s Firing ‘Wasn’t a Surprise’ to Him, University Officials Say,” Sun Sentinel, December 5, 2017

-“What It Was Like in the Class of FAU’s Conspiracy-Spinning Professor,” Palm Beach Post, December 8, 2017

-“Claims against FAU by Sandy Hook Denier Headed To Federal Jury Monday,” Palm Beach Post, December 8, 2017

-“Jury Rules against Fired FAU Prof James Tracy in Free Speech Case,” Sun Sentinel, December 11, 2017

An editorial by Palm Beach Post opinions editor Rick Christie, arguing that the content of Tracy’s speech and disbelief in government-endorsed conspiracy theories make him “arrogant.”

In fact, the papers pulled their reporters from the courtroom entirely when crucial testimony was given by Professor Tracy’s colleagues and fellow union officers giving the lie to the central argument of FAU’s million-dollar defense—that Tracy consciously violated a school policy rigorously adhered to by all other faculty and employees.

In reality, the policy was used selectively to target this author and justify his unlawful termination for practicing his free speech on his own time that addressed various matters of public concern.

With the above in mind, here is the story that was never written, and the testimony FAU’s fawning publicity brokers deliberately hid from public view.


FAU Selectively Enforced Policy to Fire James Tracy, Sandy Hook Skeptic Vindicated By Colleagues’ Testimony

Thursday, December 7, 2017
West Palm Beach, Florida

By Earnest Ernst the Reporter
Special to the Palm Beach Post

A federal jury heard testimony from faculty colleagues of fired FAU conspiracy theory professor James Tracy today. The statements of Professors Douglas Broadfield and Christopher Robé call into question the university’s main defense on its Outside Employment/Activities Policy school that officials claim all instructional and administrative employees must follow.

The evidence is especially important because Broadfield and Robé were both high-ranking officers in FAU’s faculty union, the United Faculty of Florida, five years ago when university administrators first disciplined Tracy. At that time FAU argued the conspiracy-minded professor who claimed Sandy Hook was a hoax didn’t have a disclaimer properly positioned on his personal blog.

Several days ago when Tracy was on the witness stand US District Judge Robin Rosenberg once again agreed with FAU attorneys who objected to the jury hearing that two major civil rights organizations, the American Association of University Professors and the Foundation For Individual Rights in Education, wrote letters to FAU’s president in 2013 protesting Tracy’s discipline.

Robé, an Associate Professor in FAU’s School of Communication and Multimedia Studies previously served as FAU’s faculty union president. Taking the witness stand today Robé explained that the school’s Outside Activities Policy was difficult for him and other professors to understand and haphazardly enforced by administrators before and after Tracy’s termination.

Like Tracy, FAU Professor Christopher Robe teaches media studies and has social media accounts. Unlike Tracy, Robe has never been asked by FAU management to fill out “Outside Employment/Activity Forms.” He’s still employed FAU. A former faculty union president, Robe testified before a federal jury today that he still doesn’t understand the policy FAU used to fire Tracy. Image Credit: FAU

Robé and Tracy became colleagues in the same department when Robé  joined the FAU faculty in 2004. Like Tracy, he has social media accounts where he freely discusses his professional activities and offers infrequent diatribes about politics. Over the past several years Robé has also published numerous non-scholarly blog posts and articles online. When the film studies scholar was asked by Tracy’s attorney, Matthew Benzion, if he had ever been asked by his superiors to fill out an Outside Employment Form for his online speech conducted on personal time he replied flatly, “No.”

When Robé was further asked if he was ever given “in-person training on how to comply with the conflict of interest/outside activities policy,” Robé again responded, “No.” When Benzion asked the professor if the university’s policy “ever confused you,” he responded, “Absolutely!”

“It seemed to be applied differently at different times,” Robé continued.

I was union president in 2013, and I first became aware of it with [English Department] instructors who were teaching outside at other universities.  Quite honestly, FAU was not paying them enough money … and so I became aware of it then, the way it was being applied.

Following Robé, Professor Douglas Broadfield took the stand. Broadfield was a professor in FAU’s Anthropology Department from 2001 to 2014, and is now a research professor at University of Miami. In 2013 he served as the faculty union’s “Contract Enforcement Chair” when Tracy was first disciplined for his online speech by FAU administrators. Later that year Broadfield negotiated a settlement for Tracy with FAU Associate General Counsel Lawrence Glick and Vice Provost Diane Alperin. (Glick presided over Tracy’s firing and inexplicably vacated his lucrative FAU post in April 2016, less than one week after Tracy’s attorneys filed suit.)

When asked by Tracy’s attorney Louis Leo IV if he believed FAU’s Outside Employment Policy was evenly enforced and followed by all university faculty, Broadfield responded, “In my experience with the faculty I had contact with, I don’t think that it was applied evenly across all members of the university.”

When Leo asked Broadfield why he thought this, the former FAU professor responded,

There were faculty who filed outside activity forms for, in particular, paid activities and those certainly seemed like the university had signed off on, but there were also faculty who engaged in outside employment who never filed and they have been known, in my knowledge, by a chair or somebody like that to have been doing outside activity and never told to file or required to file.

Broadfield continued to testify that United Faculty of Florida counseled Tracy to oppose FAU’s discipline in 2013 because it violated Tracy’s First Amendment rights to publish on his personal blog. In 2015 the faculty union abandoned this premise and recommended Tracy comply with the university’s directives and fill out current and retroactive Outside Employment Forms for the blog.

The testimony of Robé and Broadfield contradict FAU’s defense, repeatedly pointed to in previous testimony by school administrators  Heather Coltman and Diane Alperin, that all faculty and university staff must comply with the policy. Two days earlier, for example, Coltman testified that Tracy “was a tenured faculty member who had been a president of the union. This wasn’t a surprise, he wasn’t ignorant of his responsibilities.”

Sun-Sentinel coverage of December 5, 2017. (The headline’s pronoun incorrectly references Heather Coltman as a male.)

Last week FAU marine biology professor Stephen Kajiura testified that he was disciplined by the university in 2016 for repeatedly failing to fill out the Outside Employment/Activity Forms reporting his numerous combined business ventures and research activities.

Unlike Tracy, Kajiura received a five-day suspension without pay. Yet from the witness box Kajiura went on to tell the jury how “there were a lot of other things” FAU administrators inflicted on the professor and his students that were excluded from documents the court permitted on record.  “They denied a Federally awarded grant to me, shut down my research, which impeded my duty to do the job and impacted the students to complete their graduate education,” Kajiura said.

In September 2015, just three months before FAU terminated Tracy, numerous faculty members also complained to FAU President John Kelly and Provost Gary Perry in a public meeting of the FAU Faculty Senate that the Outside Employment Policy was vague and confusing. After strong objections by FAU attorneys to suppress a recording and transcript of the confrontation submitted by Tracy’s attorneys, Judge Rosenberg ruled the lengthy and contentious exchange was “hearsay,” and that the professors were not capable of determining whether the policy was “confusing” or “being applied correctly.” This forbade any mention of the contentious exchange before the jury.

Closing arguments for both sides are scheduled for next Monday, after which the case will be submitted to the jury. Since Rosenberg threw out most of the case and granted individual FAU Defendants immunity, Tracy will only be entitled to reinstatement and back pay in the event the jury decides that Tracy’s speech was a motivating factor in the termination.

End of story.


 

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4 thoughts on “Through Jaundiced Eyes: Palm Beach Post, Sun-Sentinel’s Hardcore Bias in TracyvFAU Coverage”

  1. Hopefully this is not the end of story. But anything’s possible in a world where a tenured professor (or anyone) can be fired for exercising his right to free speech, the judicial system can be rigged, the press can be bought, and the lawyer for FAU can be appointed to a prestigious judgeship by the governor “just hours after he won” his case for FAU.

    A report on the trial and indictment of the Florida press and their biased coverage can also be found at Global Research:

    https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-death-of-academic-freedom-prof-james-tracy-denied-first-amendment-rights-by-federal-court/5623420

  2. In the book “IBM and the Corruption of Justice in America” by Earl Carey, Bismarck House, St. Louis, 1992, the author wrote a 353 page Treatise on gross corruption in our Federal Courts in America and thoroughly documented his claims by dotting every i and crossing every t. Mr. Carey, a former engineer, who had worked for both GM and Ford, became involved in a labor dispute with the computer giant in the State of Arizona. Carey also had a Master’s degree and was a very intelligent individual.

    His case should have easily been resolved in State Courts in Arizona. While he had a lawyer at first, he decided to act as his own lawyer Pro Se. All he wanted was a simple jury trial on the merits of his case as “guaranteed” by Amendments 5, 6 and 7 of the U.S. Constitution. He tried every legal means but every legal means failed. The lawyers for IBM quickly sought to expand the case and transfer it to the Federal Courts where they had corrupt control of the situation. Carey made it totally clear from the outset that he wanted a jury trial. He lists no less than 42 federal judges by name and location, from Anchorage to Phoenix, from Pasadena to St. Paul, who patently violated the rules they took a meaningless oath to follow! They basically did as they please unbridled by any legal or ethical constraints. Carey even sought to have federal judges arrested by the FBI! Carey outperformed them in every way, shape and form but he lost not because he lost the debate, but because they were totally corrupt and should be sitting in a jail cell for life along with the lying lawyers for IBM. This is a terrifying book. This could happen to anyone. It is a total gang rape of our precious Constitution by the very people entrusted to cherish and defend and comply with its edicts! These judges are a shameful disgrace to America.

    Large companies like IBM or Ford or institutions like FAU HATE a jury trial and their lawyers pull off every trick in the book to avoid them or corrupt the outcome if they must face a jury. This is of course what happened with Professor Tracy with the corrupt Judge Rosenberg who used a ruse to censor vital information from the jury which should have been provided to them to make such a decision. This is the kind of corruption which went on every day in the federal courts described in Carey’s very disturbing saga of total corruption in the federal courts of America.

    Now contrast the above remarks with a verdict in a federal court in Michigan described below. An industrial engineer from Lebanon with a Ph.D. in industrial engineering had worked for Ford Motor Company for about 15 years. He was very successful until his supervisors began to belittle him and seek to embarrass him over the way he spoke and expressed language. This was shameful. However, in this instance evidently a rare “honest” federal judge presided at trial and allowed the jury to evaluate all the evidence. The result is a massive multi million dollar award for this Ph.D. level engineer.

    Here is a link and brief quote from the article:
    https://nypost.com/2018/04/05/ex-ford-employee-awarded-17m-in-discrimination-case/
    “DETROIT — A jury has awarded nearly $17 million to a former Ford engineer who sued the automaker for discrimination because he says two supervisors repeatedly berated and criticized him for his Arab background and accent.
    On March 28, a federal jury in Michigan ruled that Faisal Khalaf was subjected to workplace discrimination and retaliation after he reported the abuse, the Detroit Free Press reported. Khalaf was born in Lebanon and holds a PhD in industrial engineering. He worked for the automaker for more than 15 years.
    “There was a high-level executive at Ford Motor Co. that my client reported to … that would berate him and criticize him week after week about his English,” said attorney Carol Laughbaum.”
    The jury awarded Khalaf $15 million in punitive damages, $1.7 million in retirement and pension losses, and $100,000 for emotional distress for the actions of Ford supervisors Bennie Fowler and Jay Zhou.
    The harassment started when Khalaf was placed under Fowler’s supervision in 2012.
    Before the supervisory change, Khalaf earned a “top achiever” performance rating. After, Khalaf received frequent and unwarranted criticism and hostility over his ability to speak and understand English. He was put into “demeaning” and “servile” positions, including being asked to bring Fowler coffee, according to the complaint”

    Unfortunately an honest Federal judge is a rarity. The judge in Professor Tracy’s sham trial obviously favored the crooks at FAU and poisoned the jury verdict against Professor Tracy by deliberately withholding vital information which would have obviously led them to the truth and a stiff ruling against the prejudiced criminals who run the intellectual cesspool called Florida Atlantic University which ought to be shut down by the citizens of Florida. It is a lying, cheating cesspool which sets exactly the wrong example for young wards to follow. Shame on this federal judge. She had betrayed the so called “profession” of law and the people she had a duty to support. She failed in her basic duty to reach truth. She should not have immunity but be prosecuted for violating her meaningless oath of office. Her misconduct is what gives all lawyers and judges a well deserved bad name. She is in the same club with the 42 criminal judges listed by Earl Carey.

    Winfield J. Abbe, Ph.D., Physics.

  3. Here is a great joke about the time God threatened to sue the Devil. The Devil merely laughed and replied, “How can you? I’ve got all the lawyers!” “If you want to sue the Devil, you will have to do it as a Pro Se. Then you are faced with the predicament that the Devil will probably move the case to federal court where he has all the judges too.” Quoted from: “IBM and the Corruption of Justice in America” by Earl Carey, Bismarck House, St. Louis, 1992, page 318. Judges hate a pro se because they can’t control them as they can lawyers.

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