Letters to the Editor (Nov. 13)

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November 13, 2007

10:25 PM

**Disputed beard column**

p. To the Editor:

p. It is completely unfair and biased that you allow Charolatte Savino to print her slanderous reports against the bearded community.

p. I wrote a polite e-mail describing our position last week, and yet it did not get published. What does get published? Quotes used out of context and without permission defiling the good name of our group. This is unfair and wrong. Why is the good name of people with beards being dragged through the mud without fair and adequate representation?

p. Is this what The Flat Hat stands for? Unfair and unbalanced slander?

p. I certainly hope not, and you can prove this to me by printing this as a letter to the editor.

p. __— Zach Claywell ’10, creator of “The Official No-Shave November” Facebook group.__

p. **Response to Gazette editorial**

p. To the Editor:

p. The Flat Hat correctly points out in its Nov. 6 staff editorial, “Gazette report misleads,” that Susan Robertson’s conclusion in The Virginia Gazette is at the least premature and at the worst an egregious attack not yet supported by the facts in evidence. But you should be aware that journalists who tend to make this kind of mistake often know more than the rest of us and are acting upon information or sources they have not yet nailed down.

p. Their editor’s job is to hold the piece until it is properly backed. A classic case is former Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee’s interaction with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein during their Watergate coverage.

p. The Flat Hat is basically right that, without direct and on-the-record statements or documents from the prime parties who have knowledge of the December interaction between such participants as College President Gene Nichol, former President Timothy Sullivan and James McGlothlin, neither The Flat Hat, The Virginia Gazette nor anyone else can draw any verifiable conclusion yet.

p. But, ironically, The Flat Hat then goes on and makes just as significant a journalistic error of its own in the penultimate paragraph of this editorial.

p. There is no reason The Flat Hat has cited in its editorial to exclude Robertson’s conclusion as a possible alternative explanation. Not to include an equally likely, if more unpleasant theory, gives a false impression of The Flat Hat’s partiality.

p. As a professional mainstream media reporter, editor and commentator for many years, I would suggest you might have done better to add the following to the end of the last line of that paragraph:

p. “Nichol may have lied about not knowing about the withdrawn gift and ignoring that knowledge in making an official statement that pretended that the College had exceeded its target six months early. The fact remains that until we have first-hand testimony or the documents The Flat Hat and others have FOIAed, we are not able to draw any of the conclusions above. And neither, so far as we know, is anyone else.”

p. In correctly refuting too early a conclusion, your summary opens up the possibilities. It doesn’t exclude any reasonable explanations and Robertson’s is one and there may be others as well.

p. It is also worth commenting on the clear fact that public servants like Nichol who do not volunteer evidence in their possession but have to have it FOIAed out of them are acting strangely indeed.

p. There is no reason for Nichol to drag the resolution of the current unhappy impasse out any longer, much less cast suspicion on his predecessor while hiding material documents from the public he is supposed to be serving.

p. Nichol may be innocent of the Gazette’s accusations, but these counterproductive, legalistic delaying tactics from a former law school dean cannot help but continue to generate reasonable suspicion.

p. __— Thomas H. Lipscomb ’61__

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