I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Monday, August 13, 2012

UPDATED: "Bob Bowden" Makes a Serious, Unfounded Charge


I've said my piece about Bob Braun's column in today's Star-Ledger; no need to rehash it. But I just went to read the comments below Braun's piece, and saw this:

It would be nice for the Star-Ledger to only use columnists who are independent-minded, rather than paid spokesmen for the teachers union.  
Or if they are indeed dead set on the notion that polemicists bring readers, maybe 
one from each side? [emphasis mine] 
Now I don't know if this the actual Bob Bowdon: the guy who made the anti-NJEA schlockumentary The Cartel, which Bruce Baker eviscerated in a series of great posts at his blog. The guy who inserted himself into the war between Janine Caffrey and the Perth Amboy Board of Education with a one-sided video devoid of any balance. The guy who gets help from the right-wing Moving Picture Institute to make his little reformy videos. Who funds them? No one's saying...

Yet here is someone claiming to be Bowdon, calling Braun a paid spokesman for the teachers union. I'd like to see his proof. I'd like to know exactly how Bowdon can makes such a serious claim. If he can't. he owes Braun an immediate apology.

As for bringing in "one from each side": did Bowdon do that when he defended Maureen Castriotta? Not hardly. It takes a lot of nerve for someone like Bowdon to question anyone else's objectivity.

UPDATE: So I went on Twitter to ask Bob Bowdon to confirm that he was really the one who left the comment on Braun piece.
 Is this really you, saying Bob Braun of  is paid union spokesman?  
Bowdon responds over several tweets:
Indeed, JJM. If you'll accept perhaps an overly grammatical distinction. Paid "to be" a union spokesman. Money is fungible, 
...& I'm not very concerned about the source. So whether the money comes from the unions directly or union devotees doesn't 
interest me much. I suspect if a guy from our side had Braun's job, with no mirror image counterpart, you'd be equally 
critical of the arrangement. Meanwhile, congrats on being a prolific defenders of the ed establishment & nice to meet you.
Slick, huh? Braun is "paid to be" a union spokesman... not by the union, but by the Newhouses. Is that how you read Bowdon's comment? If not, congratulations: you're a normal functioning human being. And Bob Bowdon still owes Bob Braun an apology.

As to the rest: I'm quite intrigued by this idea of money being "fungible." You mean between the union and Advance Publications, Bob? Do you really believe there is a money trail running from NJEA headquarters over to Conde Nast? Or is S.I. Newhouse just some crazy union-lovin' billionaire who forces the S-L to write pro-union pieces?

If so, the NJEA is really getting ripped off, considering how the op-ed page of the Star-Ledger is just about the worst enemy New Jersey public employee unions could possibly imagine in the media. Hell, even Braun, who you accuse of being their "paid spokesman," isn't on the NJEA's side, as is obvious from his piece today.

By the way, you do have a guy on "your side," and his name is Tom Moran, the Editor of the S-L's op-ed page. He's said the teachers union is based in "old school greed." He's repeatedly hung NJEA's president, Barbara Keshishian, on a quote he has never presented in context (at least as far as I've seen, and I've been looking for a long time).

If Braun has written anything nearly as supportive of the NJEA as Moran has been critical, point it out to me. I guarantee you can't.

Last thing: just in case anyone was wondering why Bowdon might have a problem with the Star-Ledger, even though the op-ed page hates the NJEA and loves reformyists like David Tepper...

Take a look at their review of Bowdon's film, The Cartel:
Unlike Moore, Bowdon isn’t a natural filmmaker; his sarcasm is heavy-handed, and the film’s style (which relies on some crude animation and lots of old TV clips) is flat. But he does share that more famous rabble-rouser’s dislike for balance. In the twisted view of “The Cartel,” every New Jersey school is in a slum — yet also full of eager, well-parented students who arrive ready to learn, only to run headlong into incompetent teachers and corrupt fat-cat principals.
That’s his reality. Is it yours?
That's still got to sting, and it probably explains why Bowdon doesn't like the S-L - even when they're on his side.

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