UC Berkeley News


Letters to the Editor

02 February 2006

Thank you for giving frontline attention to the question of executive compensation at the University of California. The San Francisco Chronicle has in my judgment taken a position as an editorial policy to poison many wells, and it would appear that there is a policy at the paper to generate information or misinformation irrespective of the veracity and depth of the research involved prior to the release of its stories.

The University of California for over a century has been a huge driver and engine both directly and indirectly of the economy of the great State of California. It is most useful for you to bring enlightenment to your readers on this matter of UC compensation. It is my sad belief, however, that most of what you have written will never make it into the hands of the public at large. To the extent it does not, we have, again, a large body of our populace that is either totally ignorant of the facts or at the very least badly misinformed and misled by the editorial practices at the Chronicle.

I support UC entirely in its mission to provide one of the best educational and research opportunities on the face of the earth to the citizens of this state.

Robert B. Let '57

* * *

So far, I have only had a chance to glance at Barry Bergman's Jan. 26 article about political science professor Paul Pierson ("The Republican right, and how it grew"), but I note this sentence at the beginning of the second paragraph: "All of which, by most reckonings, is good news not just for Democrats, but for everyone who fears the GOP bandwagon is taking the country in the wrong direction."

There is absolutely no way that could be considered an unbiased sentence in what is purporting to be a news article (the loaded term "fears" should be a giveaway). It may be that this statement is Paul Pierson's contention; however, Pierson has yet to be introduced in the article, and therefore the only reasonable way to take that statement is that it reflects Mr. Bergman's own thinking.

Here the Berkeleyan does exactly the same thing that it has accused the San Francisco Chronicle of doing in its articles about compensation at UC: slanting things to make their point. This is wrong, it is illegitimate, and after the Chronicle's hatchet job I would think you would have the decency to examine the Berkeleyan's practices objectively.

Yes, we are in a blue-state region in a blue state, but you are presumably state-funded, and therefore you have an ethical and moral obligation to eschew political asides in what are purporting to be news articles. If your writers want to write editorial comments, fine - let 'em get jobs on magazines or newspapers where that is more acceptable, or let them label their articles as "commentary." But this kind of thing is completely illegitimate, and you should have the decency and the professionalism to see that it is not part of a publicly funded newspaper.

Kevin Peet
Lawrence Berkeley Lab
Life Sciences Division

Barry Bergman replies:
Before making accusations of bias, Mr. Peet might consider finishing the article - or at least slogging through the first two paragraphs. The first paragraph says, essentially, that Republicans have had a bad year. The next one begins by saying, essentially, that "by most reckonings" a bad year for Republicans should be good news for the political opposition, a.k.a. Democrats and "everyone who fears the GOP bandwagon is taking the country in the wrong direction." The latter part of this paragraph - indeed, the entire article - goes on to explain that this conventional wisdom, in the view of Off Center co-author Paul Pierson, is wrong. So much for structure.

The characterization to which Mr. Peet objects so vociferously describes, whether he likes it or not, a rather large constituency. (I take it Mr. Peet does not count himself a member, though I doubt he would deny such a constituency exists.) Moreover, to assert that "the only reasonable way to take that statement is that it reflects Mr. Bergman's own thinking" is, well, unreasonable, and suggests a willful misreading. If I'd written that Osama bin Laden and his supporters "hate" America, would he similarly consider "hate" to be a "loaded term" and presume that the statement "gives away" my personal point of view? Would that, too, be "illegitimate"?

Berkeleyan readers who fear there's bias under the bedsheets - a constituency whose perspective, I hasten to add, I do not share - are apt to find it, the evidence notwithstanding.

* * *

Pierson's premises, from beginning to end, are all disingenuous. He is missing all of the facts and simply respewing what the liberal spin is. Nothing new and no ideas. But I suppose his craziness sure sounds good to the whackos in Berkeley. He and his article are the very reason Conservatism is thriving across the nation.

The tide has turned toward the Conservatives, not by grabbing political machinery, but by good old fashioned discussion of fact, discount of the liberal spin, rebuke of socialistic propoganda and transparent democrat lies about conservatives. Tom DeLay will be exhonerated from trumped up charges by a political hack. We all know that Abramoff gave money and influence to both political parties. Hurricane Katrina was a natural disaster of unimaginable proportion and city and State officials were to blame for poor response to its wrath. Wire tapping w/o a warrant is only done to those speaking with known Alquada operatives - This was okayed by both parties in Congress. The CIA leak amounts to nothing since Valerie was not an CIA operative. It is apparent that the liberals do not connect with reality just those that wish to shape it. Liberals are simply made of socialists that want to tell others how to live their lives and what to think....

I could go on and on about Paul's fantasy America, but I won't.

William Dunlavy, Jr.
via the Internet