University of Colorado President Wants Professor Ward Churchill Fired

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," May 29, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: It is the "Big Development." University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill fired up many Americans by teaching his students to think of some of the 9/11 victims as Nazis. Now the president of the school wants him fired, but he doesn't get to make the final call. "Big Story" correspondentDouglas Kennedy has the latest in the saga from the Colorado campus.

DOUGLAS KENNEDY, "BIG STORY" CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, John, this is going to have to go through some school committees first, but the university is clearly talking tough. And both sides agreed this will most likely end up with a lawsuit.


KENNEDY (ON CAMERA): For two years, Ward Churchill has been the conduit of controversy on college campuses.


(CHANTING): Down! Down!

KENNEDY: But his dynasty of dispute may be coming to an end. University of Colorado president Hank Brown now says he wants the tenured professor fired.

HANK BROWN, UNIV OF COLORADO PRESIDENT: Being a celebrity or having a lot of notoriety isn't a get out of jail free card. This is not a Paris Hilton kind of defense. You can't excuse falsification of research material because you are simply well-known or a celebrity.

KENNEDY: Churchill calls it a blatant violation of the right to free speech, which he predicts will have a terrible consequence on the country as a whole.

WARD CHURCHILL, UNIV OF COLORADO PROFESSOR: ...the curtailment of the right to speak, but also the right to hear. We need to take it seriously because they are very serious.

KENNEDY: Two years ago, the long-haired self-proclaimed hippy thrust himself onto the national stage by comparing the bond traders who died in the World Trade Center to "little Eichmanns" and calling American financial foreign policy "unjust." In investigating the comments, the university says it discovered a pattern in Churchill's published research that included fabrications, misrepresentations and plagiarism.

CHURCHILL: Get your camera out of my face.

KENNEDY: The university insists Churchill will be let go for his ethical breaches and not for his personal beliefs, but Churchill attorney David Lane isn't buying it and says a large lawsuit is looming.

DAVID LANE, WARD CHURCHILL'S ATTORNEY: We're almost there. We're almost there. Ward Churchill will almost be able to take his case into federal court.

KENNEDY: The president's recommendation first goes before a tenure committee and then before the board of regents. It's an end to a two year process that university calls necessary, particularly, they say, for a tenured professor, like Churchill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not a business enterprise where people can be fired the same day and escorted out of the building with all of their little stuff in a cardboard box. IT isn't how we work.


KENNEDY: Brown would not reveal Churchill's specific violations, but he did call them "serious" and said there were multiple cases of clear falsification. So, John, clearly they think they've got Ward Churchill this time.

GIBSON: All right, Douglas, thank you.

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