Playwright Tony Kushner is at the center of controversy at the City University of New York, where the board of trustees on Thursday issued a statement defending its decision to block giving him an honorary degree. On Monday, they voted to table the honor after one trustee raised objects over what he characterized as Kushner’s anti-Israeli views.
The board’s statement said that it “acted independently in exercising its judgment and authority. Mr. Kushner has indicated in published reports that even if the Board were to reconsider and approve the honorary degree, he would not accept it. The Board’s actions, however, should not be interpreted as reflecting on Mr. Kushner’s accomplishments and we regret any such misunderstanding.”
Kushner told the New York Times, “I have been honored many times by prominent Jewish organizations, proudly identified as a Jew and maintained a passionate support for the continuous existence of the State of Israel. An apology should come from the Board of Trustees for not following the dictates of simple fairness and decency when this happened, and allowing someone who deserved better treatment to be treated shabbily.”
Update: Board chairman Benno Schmidt says that the matter will be reconsidered by the executive committee. “I believe the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees needs to reconsider the Board’s decision to table the motion to approve the award of an honorary degree to Tony Kushner. I would not ordinarily ask for reconsideration of a decision so recently taken. But when the board has made a mistake of principle, and not merely of policy, review is appropriate and, indeed, mandatory.” More here.
Past and Present: Newton Minow, the former FCC chairman under John F. Kennedy, will sit down with current chairman Julius Genachowski on Monday at a forum at the National Press Club marking the 50th anniversary of Minow’s speech in which he declared television “a vast wasteland.” He made the speech before the National Assn. of Broadcasters, which was probably as enthusiastic about the comments back then as they were about Genachowski’s comments this year calling for them to give up spectrum through voluntary auctions. The event is dubbed “From Wasteland to Broadband” and will be moderated by Frank Sesno. It’s sponsored by George Washington University’s Global Media Institute.
Obama Town Hall: Bob Schieffer and Erica Hill will host a town hall on Wednesday with President Obama, with a special focus on the economy. The event, in partnership with YouTube, will be streamed online and will be shown during the 8 a.m. hour of “The Early Show.”
Latino Museum: Eva Longoria and Emilio Estafan were on hand on Thursday as a federal commission recommended the creation of the National Museum of the American Latino on the National Mall, to be part of the Smithsonian Institution.