WASHINGTON – A student journalist accused of misleading those she interviewed for an inflammatory column about racial profiling of Arabs has been fired, the editor said.
Columnist Jillian Bandes (search) told three campus sources — two Arab students and a professor who teaches a course on Arabic — she was writing an article about Arab-American relations, Daily Tar Heel opinion editor Chris Coletta wrote in an article published Thursday.
Instead, Bandes' column, published in the paper Tuesday, argued that racial profiling of Arabs was essential to national security. The column began with the line, "I want all Arabs to be stripped naked and cavity-searched if they get within 100 yards of an airport."
The Daily Tar Heel (search) is the student paper at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The column resulted in numerous complaints but also expressions of support for Bandes' views.
Coletta said he did not fire Bandes for her views, but because all three people she quoted in the column — students Sherief Khaki (search) and Muhammad Salameh and professor Nasser Isleem — thought they were to be interviewed about Arab-American relations after Sept. 11, 2001, not a column in support of racial profiling.
In the column, Bandes quoted the conservative commentator Ann Coulter saying that "any time she had a need for physical intimacy, she would simply walk through an airport's security checkpoint." Some travelers have complained about overly intrusive physical searches at airports.
"I want Arabs to get sexed up like nothing else," Bandes wrote. "And Arab students at UNC don't seem to think that's such a bad idea."
She then quoted Khaki, Salameh and Isleem speaking in support of airport security measures. The newspaper said they never intended to endorse being "sexed up."
Bandes was fired because "she strung together quotes out of context. She took sources' words out of context. She misled those sources when she conducted interviews," Coletta wrote. "In other words, she conducted journalistic malpractice."
Bandes was interviewed on several talk radio shows Thursday. In an article in the Carolina Journal, which is published by the conservative John Locke Foundation, Bandes said Coletta gave her no opportunity to defend herself before she was fired. Bandes said she didn't believe her column violated any journalistic standards.
"I wanted to get people talking," Bandes said. "I did that. It also got me fired."