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Vol 1 No. 12                       January 20, 2005 

Profiles in Chutzpah
A report by
Hart Williams

Let’s start with Richard Mellon Scaife and work forward from there. You remember Scaife? He’s the one who funded most, if not all, of the stuff that led to Clinton’s impeachment. Underwrote “The American Spectator” and David Brock’s (who’s since repudiated it) ”Troopergate” investigations. Paid for the outing of the Paula Jones “story” and probably paid for her rhinoplasty and orthodontia (and Linda Tripp’s too!).

One of the “vast Right Wing Conspiracy” organizations that Scaife funds very generously (through the “Sara Scaife Foundation,” the “Scaife Family Foundation” AND the “Carthage Foundation,” to the tune of over $2 million between 1-1-1995 and 1-1-2002) is “Accuracy In Media” -- a right wing media attack group whose usage of “accuracy” is derived from the same dictionary that Faux Nooz’s “Fair and Balanced” comes from. Accuracy in Media decided a few years ago to set up a satellite attack group called “Accuracy in Academia.”

This is where our real story begins.

From their website: “What is Accuracy In Academia?

“Accuracy in Academia, a non-profit research group based in Washington, D. C., wants schools to return to their traditional mission-the quest for truth. To promote this goal, AIA documents and publicizes political bias in education in Campus Report, its monthly newsletter. CR articles focus on:

  • The use of classroom and/or university resources to indoctrinate students;

  • Discrimination against students, faculty or administrators based on political or academic beliefs; and

  • Campus violations of free speech.

For a good chunk of 2003, AIA was staffed by a young woman, fresh out of Yale, named Sara Russo. Ms. Russo had been an arch-conservative at Yale, and also at George Mason U. which she seems to have attended. She maintained a blog, entitled “Russo’s Republic” wherein she opined on such matters as a Woman’s Right To Choose (ain’t got none); American Idol (liked it); GOOGLE (liked it because of her high ranking); how many pictures there are of her in the Yale DAILY NEWS (“one photo has me holding a sign that says ‘Al Gore is the Unabomber’”) and other weighty matters.

Her “Conservative Activism” page states: “I started this site because as a recent graduate of Yale University and a veteran of many activism campaigns, from protesting a campus celebration of the 50th anniversary of the People's Republic of China to assisting a campaign to stop Yale from using student tuition to fund abortion, I realized I had many ideas to share. 

“In my day job as a program officer and conference director for Accuracy in Academia, I routinely meet conservative students from all over the United States.”

A virulent anti-abortionist, she even had a separate page on how to convince people to her side. She brays about writing for AIA as an undergraduate, praising GOOGLE for including “my many articles for Accuracy in Academia.”

Here is a sample: “Bias Revealed Among Ivy League Faculty --Professors Voted 84% for Gore, 9% for Bush

“A new poll of professors at Ivy League universities has found an alarming disparity between the numbers of liberal and conservative faculty on the campuses.

“Commissioned by the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, the survey revealed that of those Ivy League faculty that voted in the 2000 presidential election, more than 80 percent voted for Democrat Al Gore while only nine percent chose Republican candidate George W. Bush. By contrast, the popular vote in America was evenly divided, with 48% going to each candidate.

“The other findings of the poll are similarly startling, and reveal how wide the breach is between the views held by Ivy League professors and the beliefs held by ordinary Americans. When asked about a number of highly controversial political issues, including abortion and slavery reparations, the professors consistently gave answers far to the left of the American political mainstream.”

One can only gasp at the presumption of these awful professors. Why, they probably don’t drive pickup trucks or drink Budweiser. How DARE they not be “ordinary”? Clearly Sara was a woman on a mission.

Young Sara Russo had the world by the tail: A Yale Graduate, a nice Washington DC job with AIM/AIA, a nice neocon resume and the experience of running AIA’s “Conservative University.”

This fact didn’t stop her from archly tooting her own horn when she wrote: “A record enrollment of over one-hundred students converged on Washington, DC, July 18 to attend Accuracy in Academia's most successful Conservative University to date. The students from such schools as Harvard, Stanford, and UCLA were joined by dozens of interns from the Washington, DC- area, who gladly gave up their weekend to hear eminent conservative speakers such as Burt Folsom and John Lott cover topics that are absent from their campus curriculums.

“Thousands more were able to participate in the four-day event through nationally televised coverage from C-SPAN, which aired lectures by Conservative Caucus chairman Howard Phillips, Accuracy in Academia conference director Sara Russo, National Republican Senatorial Committee research editor Shamed Dogan, and Accuracy in Media prize-winning film producer Roger Aronoff.”

Passing over the questionable ethics of praising your own event in a “news story” on a website purportedly devoted to “accuracy,” it should be noted that Shamed Dogan was an old friend of Russo’s from Yale, linked from her blog to his blog, and, that Sarah Russo shortly thereafter changed her name, reflecting her new marital status, to “Sara Dogan.” Hmmmm.

So, perhaps it will come as no surprise that when former liberal David Horowitz, of Southern California, decided to launch a frontal assault on the “ideology” of university faculty, he would pick Sara Russo (soon to be Dogan) in 2003, to head his “Students for Academic Freedom,” a typically disingenuously named right-wing attack group pushing an equally dishonest proposal of Horowitz’ entitled, “The Student Bill of Rights.”

So Sara moved her desk from 4455 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 330, Washington, DC 20008 to Students for Academic Freedom, 1411 K Street, NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20005, and became: “Sara Dogan (formerly Sara Russo), National Campus Director, Students for Academic Freedom.” (from their website 1-17-05). From a location on the outskirts of power (near Tilden and Nebraska Streets), Sara was now six blocks from the White House, and less than a mile from the Capitol.

Perhaps Horowitz was convinced by this in Sara’s Ivy League Bias article: “David Horowitz, President of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, the organization that commissioned the survey, believes that the poll's results indicate a disturbing conformity in academia. "This survey confirms what I have been saying for years-that our universities are less intellectually free than they were even in the McCarthy era, when I was an Ivy League undergraduate myself," commented Horowitz.

"For all the Ivy League's talk of diversity, it is painfully evident from this survey that there is no real diversity when it comes to the political attitudes and social values of Ivy League professors," Horowitz continued. "Not only is there an alarming uniformity among liberal arts professors at our elite universities, but this uniformity bears the clear stamp of the Democratic Party and the political left."

Sarah Russo and David Horowitz were ideological soul-mates inasmuch as both believed that the evil “leftist” Democrat professors were Joe McCarthys, stamping out the hate-speech of the Right. And so Sara was installed as Oberstgruppenfuhrer of Horowitz’ SA(F) -- a seemingly wholly-owned subsidiary of the CSPC.

According to Transparency in Media, CSPC has received $5,425,000 since 1989 from Scaife foundations. And another major funder, The Bradley Foundation (“Name a conservative idea -- whether it's school vouchers, faith-based initiatives or the premise that there's a worldwide clash of civilizations -- and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation is apt to have its fingerprints on it, “ wrote reporter  MARK O'KEEFE of the Newhouse News Service; the Foundation is also noted for funding “the Project for a New American Century” and for their strong ties to the Bush Administration) gave CSPC $13,173,000 over the same period.

[It’s interesting to note Scaife and Bradley also gave, during the same period, an aggregate of $75,465,077 to the uber-conservative poster-group, the Heritage Foundation.]

By early this year, the so-called Students for Academic Freedom boasted that they had 135 chapters at Universities around the USA.

They had created a  stir at the University of Colorado at Boulder, according to the right-wing (Rev. Sun Yung Moon-owned) WASHINGTON TIMES, 9-15-2003: “A Republican proposal to boost pluralism in academia in Colorado has enraged the left, prompting cries of McCarthyism and calls for an investigation.  The flap erupted last week after word surfaced that Colorado Republican leaders are throwing their support behind the ‘Academic Bill of Rights,’ a document drawn up over the summer by Los Angeles-based conservative activist David Horowitz.

“The eight-point manifesto calls for increasing intellectual diversity in academia by urging universities to seek more conservative professors, include more classics in the curriculum, invite conservative speakers to campus, and protect students who disagree with liberal professors from academic harassment.“

A similar fracas ensued at Ball State University late in 2004, as professor George Wolfe was accused by the SAF schlock troopers as “supporting terrorism.” Er .. make that David Horowitz himself.

According to the Muncie Star Press, 11/30/04, the accusation, “resulted in Wolfe receiving so much hate e-mail from Oregon, Florida and other places that he has had to close down his e-mail. ‘My e-mail is impossible to manage,"’ Wolfe said. "One person said I should move to a communist country.’"

“The controversy started when conservative Ball State student Brett Mock, who took one of Wolfe's classes, filed a complaint with Students for Academic Freedom accusing Wolfe of being biased. SAF is a national organization founded by Horowitz to expose politically biased college professors and administrators.”

In both cases, the National Campus Coordinator, Sara Dogan, was all over it, responding to every editorial, writing letters to the University presidents, and beating the drum for the well-orchestrated attack on the wrong-partied “ideology” of professors.

Clearly the agenda is to use the media megaphone provided by fanatical contributors like Scaife and Bradley to crush any remaining “blue state” pockets of resistance that might be hiding in the Universities.

And they’re succeeding. Donald Lazere, professor emeritus of English at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo reported, in The CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION on July 2, 2004 (the 228th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, ironically enough) “In March the Georgia Senate adopted the Academic Bill of Rights Resolution, modeled on David Horowitz's campaign calling for colleges to promote intellectual diversity and academic freedom on their campuses. In May the American Legislative Exchange Council -- which describes itself as "a clearinghouse of information for 2,400 conservative officeholders in 50 states, almost one-third of the 7,500 state legislators in the country" -- adopted a sample resolution and model statutory language based on Horowitz's bill, and pledged to work toward the statute's passage in the legislature of every state. Meanwhile, according to the Horowitz-affiliated Students for Academic Freedom, Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican, plans to sponsor a resolution in the Senate in September echoing the language in the ‘academic bill of rights.’ Sessions's bill would accompany a similar House resolution introduced last fall by Rep. Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican. ‘It's been an incredibly successful week for Students for Academic Freedom,’ boasts the May 14 announcement by the group's national campus director, Sara Dogan.” Well, the boasting we already know about.

Which brings us home to Oregon. And to the REGISTER-GUARD, who, on January 2, 2005 wrote an editorial entitled: “A slippery slope: 'Academic bill of rights' law isn't the answer,” noting rightly that “the bill of rights is a Trojan Horse.”

And, being the paid attack-dog that she is, Sara Dogan wrote a letter to the editor published on January 10th, claiming that the bullying left-wing U of O professors were oppressing noble conservative students. In part it reads: “The liberal faculties of universities in Oregon and elsewhere refuse to hire conservatives. A recent study by Professor Daniel Klein of Santa Clara University shows that in the next generation, liberal professors will outnumber conservatives by a factor of 30 to 1.”

Funny: for a party that repudiates science and reason, e.g. “evolution” I can’t imagine why more professors aren’t big conservatives. But, be that as it may, the cited Klein turns out to be a rabid Libertarian (hates Democrats with a purple passion) and has a methodological skew in his “results”: Only “liberal arts” professors are counted, to find “liberals.” This is the sort of literal mindedness that characterizes Right Wing thinking, of course. But then, of course, since the Earth is only 4000 years old, nuance just hasn’t had enough time to develop, one might posit. The R-G could not go unchalleneged, evidently.

Sara Dogan, pampered poster child of the New Right, concludes with this purring threat: “If academics answered the editorial's call ‘to demonstrate a genuine willingness to acknowledge and address legitimate complaints of bias’ or adopt the Academic Bill of Rights themselves, we would be happy to withdraw the legislation - as we have already done in Colorado.”

Except ... the R-G editorial doesn’t say a THING about legislation. So, what is this “legislation” she’s referring to? Bragging and threatening: these are the “conservative” values that universities are expected to show more tolerance for?


A member of the National Writers Union, AFLCIO, Hart Williams has been in print since 1973, and has written for THE WASHINGTON POST, THE KANSAS CITY STAR, THE SANTA FE SUN, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, THE OREGONIAN and many others.