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Letter to the Editor: The ‘Prince’ failed readers with one-sided coverage of POCC

<h5>The Princeton School of Public Policy and International Affairs (SPIA)</h5>
<h6>Mark Dodici / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
The Princeton School of Public Policy and International Affairs (SPIA)
Mark Dodici / The Daily Princetonian

The following is a guest contribution and reflects the author’s views alone. For information on how to submit an article to the Opinion Section, click here.   

To the Editor:

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On Jan. 19, The Daily Princetonian published an article entitled “Eisgruber defends SPIA Dean Jamal amid POCC criticism of statement on Rittenhouse verdict.” The subject was related to an exchange that I, as well as Abigail Anthony ’23 and sixty other Princeton Open Campus Coalition (POCC) members, had with University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 regarding a statement released by School of Public and International Affairs Dean Amaney Jamal after the Rittenhouse verdict. That exchange — though disappointing — addressed matters foundational to University life. Your readers deserved a balanced and thoughtful distillation of the arguments made by all. Instead, the coverage was snide, underdeveloped, and divulged a clear disdain for my organization. 

I have nowhere near enough space to refute every issue I had with the reporting done by the ‘Prince,’ so I instead share a few observations.

First, contra the ‘Prince’ morning newsletter, President Eisgruber did not “rebuk[e]” the POCC’s concerns. President Eisgruber responded graciously, cordially, and in short order to our letter. He expressed his disagreement with our arguments, and he did so in good faith. To be clear, I think President Eisgruber was wrong to claim that Dean Jamal spoke in her personal capacity in condemning the Rittenhouse verdict, for reasons Anthony and I laid out in our article published by National Review. Your publication asked me about those reasons, but they went unreported. By contrast, President Eisgruber’s position on the question received generous coverage.  

Second, your atrophied and context-stripped treatment of our arguments did not give readers a fair understanding of the substance of the POCC’s objections. Though your publication would suggest otherwise, we took no issue with Dean Jamal’s charge for students to examine our justice system and broader societal institutions with an eye towards improving them. For that, we laud her. Instead, we objected specifically to the Dean’s promulgation of a substantive and morally-hued viewpoint on the verdict itself. 

Finally, the disparity between The Daily Princetonian’s treatment of President Eisgruber and the POCC shatters the illusion of balanced reporting. Your publication does a great service for President Eisgruber: you tell readers what he argues and how he argues it. For the POCC, you tell readers only what we argue, and you strip our theses of necessary context. You do not summarize our positions, let alone with the care extended to President Eisgruber. You quote paragraphs of his, but only a couple dozen words of mine — never mind the fact that I responded to your pertinent questions at several paragraphs’ length. 

I close with a simple request: Read in full the material hyperlinked in your coverage of our exchange with President Eisgruber. Upon doing so, you’ll have no difficulty grasping the one-sidedness of your reporting. If your readers care about keeping abreast of hot-button Princeton news, it seems they’ll have to read the ‘Prince’ as skeptics from now on. You owe them a remedy. Build the “trust” you profess to care so deeply about. 

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Myles McKnight is a junior studying Politics. He is the President of the Princeton Open Campus Coalition. He can be reached at mylesm@princeton.edu.

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