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“You were playing right into the hands of Bush’s handlers.”—Rena Fraboni Bloom ’60
Not ‘With the President’
I was appalled when I saw the cover of the Fall 2004 issue of Rochester Review [“With the President: A Reporter’s Story of 9/11” by Richard Keil ’83]. I could not believe that my alma mater would abandon even the pretense of political neutrality and feature a cover with symbols sympathetic to George Bush and a cover story, soppy at best, whose basic theme was what a great man Bush is.
This is an election year, remember? The country is deeply divided. At stake is whether the leadership of the country can make wise decisions based on evidence and guided by concern for all Americans and the entire world community, as I thought I was taught to do at the University. The candidate you featured on your cover and in your story does not seem to be guided by these principles.
Or, to put it another way, how could you be so politically stupid? When, barely a month before the election, you feature the White House on the cover and any article about its occupant, especially one with such sympathetic pictures, you were playing right into the hands of Bush’s handlers. They know very well that any graphic that puts Bush’s face or actions before the public, particularly those in connection with 9/11, with all the fear that that is meant to evoke, is a positive step toward reelection.
If this is the University I was proud to attend, I would have expected to see another issue of the Review out a week before election day. This one would feature a positive story about John Kerry on the cover. Then at least you will be able to claim that you have a balanced view.
Rena Fraboni Bloom ’60
In the 44 years since graduation, this is the first time I have been impelled to contact you. The partisanship evidenced in featuring George Bush so close to the election was deeply suspect and utterly inappropriate.
This was a time when he was more candidate than president, and it is unlikely that you would have an opportunity to rectify this injustice with equal exposure of John Kerry.
I hope you will exercise better judgment in the future.
Susan (Peedee) Weil Shaw ’60
Roslyn, New York
Your choice to write a human interest article on George Bush was an extremely poor one. Why not have asked the extreme right of the Republican party to advertise on the president’s behalf in the Review? Your essay blithely paraded Bush before your readership as though he were not in a tight political race, an election whose outcome, were Bush elected, would, in the informed opinion of some, lead to further disasters for this country and the world.
However, I do not wish to speak as a partisan Democrat, but rather as a reflective and well-educated Rochester graduate, thank you very much.
Your article, in its coziness, was a partisan political article. Such a disingenuously presented article risks offending the good judgment of the best Rochester graduates, those who have promoted Rochester as a fine place for promising young minds to develop critical thinking skills and breadth of understanding, qualities not apparent in whatever decision went toward commissioning the Bush essay.
I certainly understand that Bush receives support from some Rochester graduates, and that the Review ought to represent Rochester graduates in general. You must realize, however, that some of us have evaluated Bush’s presidential performance as autocratic, undemocratic, ignorant, and willfully self-serving. May I suggest that you write a human interest story about another man with dictatorial tendencies. How about Saddam? Hitler?
Such a story would be easy to write and to present while completely ignoring, as you have done in Bush’s case, the mistakes and the international horrors wrought by one ill-educated person, a Yale undergraduate, though from his speech and lack of writing one would not notice.
As it is too late for you to present an equally appealing article on John
Kerry, I suggest that you owe your well-
Stephen Gottlieb ’60
Professor Emeritus of English
I found it interesting that you chose to print this story three years after that tragic day, with the election just around the corner. This article did not succeed in its attempt to humanize a president responsible for so many needless deaths in Iraq. I think it was a poor choice for the Review and clearly partisan.
Wanda Ronner ’88M (Res)
Haddonfield, New Jersey
Editor Scott Hauser replies: Rochester Review has an 82-year tradition of featuring stories about and by alumni who are doing newsworthy, compelling, and important work in their fields and in their communities. We asked Richard Keil to write about his experience on September 11 because his role as one of only a very few outside observers allowed to travel regularly with the president fell squarely within that tradition of profiling the work of an alumnus at the top of his profession. We were well aware that the story would fall during the election season—as would the three-year anniversary of September 11—but tried to make clear that the story featured the perspective of an alumnus with a unique window on a unique day in American history. (It was, for example, Keil’s photo on the cover, not the president’s.)
As we’ve discovered, not all readers saw the story that way, including
some who questioned our motives. We have never entertained the idea of using
the magazine to affect the outcome of a national election, nor do we think credible
the notion that we would be able to influence one if we tried.
Regarding “Treasures Abound” [Fall 2004], the Sibley Music Library does have a collection unique and wonderful, full of treasures.
However, I do not think you gave Miss Barbara Duncan and her sponsor, George Eastman, enough credit. I worked under Ruth Watanabe ’52E (PhD) for three or four years when she was Miss Duncan’s assistant.
Miss Duncan was awesome! Eastman sent her to Europe with an open checkbook to buy, buy, buy. Europe was deep in its Depression, which began a little earlier than ours. Although Miss Duncan was not an “accredited librarian,” she was brilliant, sensible (the two don’t always go together), practical, and inspired.
She was a product of a Boston finishing school, and a very proper Bostonian
she was. Her student assistants were paid $.35 an hour, but when she heard that
the boys on the men’s campus were getting $.50 an hour, we got a raise.
Working in the library was among my most pleasant memories of my years at Eastman.
Frances Paul DeGermain ’46E
A Site for ’81 Eyes
My junior and senior years at Rochester, from 1979 to 1981, were heavily photographed. It has been my pleasure to scan many of these images and share them on my Web site. Also included are items from the Campus Times and Logos, as well as from Frosh Week and Orientation guides.
The site is an ongoing effort. I invite everyone to visit, and, I hope, provide feedback about any historical inaccuracies or further details about events.
Contributions in the form of images, sound clips, and stories would happily be added and credited. E-mail me at richard (at) richardsfault (dot) com.
Richard Priest ’81
In the Fall 2004 issue, the employer of Zhe (Zack) Zeng ’95, ’98S (MBA), one of the alumni who died on September 11, 2001, was misidentified. Zeng was employed by the Bank of New York.
In the list of the members of the College Class of 2008 in the Fall 2004 issue,
Noah Kolko should have been listed as the grandson of Dvorah Goldman Kolko ’50.