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Teacher Jay Bennish Fights Back - Goes to NBC, Not FOX

Reported by Marie Therese - March 8, 2006

Jay Bennish is the Colorado high school geography teacher who was suspended pending review as the result of a 16-year-old student named Sean Allen taping him during a classroom lecture he gave after the State of the Union address. That student's father, Jeff Allen, who works for Buena Vista Games, the video game arm of the Walt Disney Co., gave the tape to a conservative radio station. The ensuing firestorm resulted in Mr. Bennish's suspension and a flurry of FOX News appearances by Sean Allen and his mom, Patti Allen. However, yesterday in a move clearly designed to stick a finger in FOX's eye, Jay Bennish appeared on NBC's Today show in an interview with Matt Lauer. (As many of you know, FOX Entertainment lost the Olympics to NBC and MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has a grudge match going with Bill O'Reilly. There's no love lost between these two media conglomerates.)

This morning during FOX & Friends First they aired this clip of Mr. Bennish giving an interview to a FOX (?) interviewer at an undisclosed location.

BENNISH: "I present alternative perpectives and I encourage kids to think critically and to develop their own ideas and to support their ideas with research and documentation. I never grade students based upon their political viewpoints. I only award points based upon your ability to write as a social scientist and a historian by supporting your particular viewpoints with documentation and evidence ..."

"You know I have to say this," said Judge Andrew Napolitano just after this clip aired. "I read the entire speech or lecture, which is the subject of this and at the very end he says 'You know? I'm not tellin' ya' what to believe. I'm not even saying if I believe this. I'm suggesting that you question authority and I want to stir the pot and I want you to think about these things.' That's what a teacher is supposed to do."

Alisyn Camerata then went off on a tangent about the fact that she had never had geography in school and therefore couldn't find Minnesota. Ultimately she finally got around to asking the question she was supposed to, i.e., "Is that what you're supposed to be teaching and are those the questions you're supposed to be asking in geography class?"

Doocy piped up with "And in particular, with this particular teacher, he says he has presented a fair and balanced debate on the issues of the day in this (winks his eyes) geography class, so our Question of the Day is this: Classroom Warfare: Is he a teacher or is he a preacher?" Give us a call ..."

COMMENT

It seemed to me that Judge Napolitano was making the case that the school district doesn't have a leg to stand on and that Mr. Bennish will get his job back. The Rocky Mountain News has reported that the family is considering a change of schools for their son, as he has experienced severe backlash, even from some kids he considered his friends.

Why am I not surprised? Blowback happens. Sean Allen may think twice next time he wants to haul someone he doesn't like over the media coals without first going through all the proper local mediation steps.

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